It’s a controversial opening but it probably won’t be the last time it gets mentioned here. It is time to tear down The Cowshed. Honestly, it’s laughable that the thing still exists anyway. In many ways it stands as a shrine to a number of things that are no longer present on campus, but chief among those is that we no longer milk fucking cows! Just because we did is not a valid reason to keep the building. Right now the cowshed is home to a couple of cold damp, bookable spaces, a cycle shop, a recycled clothing store, and a UniQ space.
Now some of you may be thinking we are advocating building new club spaces where The Cowshed exists. We are not. We are simply saying that as a serviceable space for our clubs that is laughable. If you put a Bakehouse, a laundromat, and a mobile phone repair place there instead it is instantly more serviceable for a broader student audience.
Instead we have two options and both merit discussion:
THE STUDENTS UNION BUILDING
Option one is probably the purest concept, and the most difficult to organise all the moving parts but we are really going to play with this magic wand concept. The first step is to relocate Waikato Print and to move everyone else out of the top floor of the SUB.
The operations and Nexus staff of the WSU would go and live downstairs in the print shop and keep an open door policy. They would also run a Union shop, from which they would operate a reception area and sell University, WSU, and Nexus merchandise as well as work in partnership with ITS to sell new and second hand laptops and end of life stuff that students could use. Some retrofitting could take place to better incorporate the stairs and elevators going back to the Basement.
The Student Support, Board, and General Manager would go and occupy a small part of the upstairs. The rest of the two floors would be bookable spaces for clubs and societies. The current reception would be knocked out and each replaced with clubs and societies lockers, the kitchen would remain and be available to all students as a bookable space. Most of these would be hot spaces, or bookable but not owned on the ground floor. But the expectation would be that the spaces could be booked for an hour or two with club content taken out of the lockers and placed in the spaces. The current Nexus office would be retrofitted a little to be a practice space for performances as required.
Upstairs, along with the WSU Board, accountant, GM and admin there would be a space for UniQ that could preserve a degree of anonymity. There would be a mature students space, a space for parents who need to bring their kids to campus and put them down or change them, and some board rooms, meeting rooms, and conference spaces.
AN ACTUAL FUCKING VILLAGE
Ok. It seems like this one is harder than the SUB option but the reality is that it might be the easiest and, long term, the most effective. What if we just built a clubs village. We are talking six long prefabs in a rectangle creating a courtyard in the middle. That courtyard would be social hub with speakers a small stage and a BBQ.
Imagine how great it would be for each of the six club categories to have its own two or three room prefab and a couple of toilets and communal kitchenettes shared between all clubs.
In essence this would give you shared spaces for rōpū Māori and Pasifika. It would mean that MCSA and WULSA share a bookable space with YES and the other academic clubs and the hobbies and interest clubs all have to spend a little more time with DebSOC. Is the system perfect? No. Does the system teach us that we all have to share our resources acting like a parable for life? Maybe. The reality is that putting all the political clubs together would likely result in a Lord of the Flies type breakdown within a week with all the big parties picking on
the one member of Young Act until National builds them their own Epsom.
Each space would have up to ten lockers as well as a shared admin computer and some digital noticeboards run by the WSU.
At one end we would have a UniQ space, at the other our multi-faith community centre. All accessible, all wonderfully solar powered with a community garden tended to by our gardening club. Our Esports Arena could move out there too. Add some purpose built rehearsal spaces and an outdoor stage.
The real beauty of the piece is the level of soundproofing and technology that you could put into those spaces. Really strive to make sure that our clubs want for nothing and add in the BBQ spaces so that every week you are building mini events and social activations both separately and together.
The other real advantage to the Clubs and Rōpū village is the idea of each term being in a six week run. That means you could run a big clubs day on the Village Green each trimester but you could also run weekly club fairs with each category taking a week. Admit it, it is never going to happen, but it kinda works, right?