Inside this issue you’ll find insight into the design, construction and sustainability of our new learner residence, which has been inching skyward since last August. When we cut the ribbon later this year, its five storeys will provide accommodation for students who have chosen Lethbridge College for their post-secondary education.
Some might ask “why a residence, why now?” It’s a fair question in a time of economic restraint, when funding for education is scarce. Perhaps we should have put the $11.5 million into classroom development, for instance, or purchased equipment.
Well, let me tell you, Lethbridge College turns away hundreds of students every year, not because we can’t accommodate them in our programs, but because they can’t find places to live. The city’s vacancy rate is notoriously low due to several factors, including the needs of post-secondary students on our campus and at the University of Lethbridge.
Well, OK, so why worry about students from outside the area? Aren’t there enough young people coming out of Lethbridge high schools? Frankly, no: the city is demonstrating a declining high school demographic. To fill our programs and maintain the breadth of learning we offer, Lethbridge College depends on enrolment from across Western Canada and beyond. They want to be here, but won’t come if they can’t find affordable housing.
It’s considered a rule of thumb that a residential post-secondary institution should be able to provide 22 per cent of its students with housing; with the new residence, we will stand at about 14 per cent, but it’s an improvement.
Realize, too, Lethbridge College learners benefit from this influx of students, especially from those coming from other nations. Some 30 languages are spoken on campus, representing a United Nations of cultures. That creates a rich experience for students, some who have had no exposure to anything other than life in southern Alberta.
Education is far more than textbooks, and Lethbridge College endeavours to graduate young people with a global perspective. What better way to learn of the outside world than from people who have lived in it? The ability to understand a culture other than one’s own creates critical thinking, a skill we encourage in all who learn here.
So, the new residence is the start of a larger campus renewal, one that will ultimately embrace our trades and technologies and the Buchanan Library. We’ve signed the Pan-Canadian Protocol for Sustainability developed by the Association of Canadian Community Colleges and, as you’ll read in this issue, we’ve made “green” our new byword.
We will continue to be driven by a desire for excellence and innovation.