SMU students trade opinions for free lunch

SMUSA hosts a group discussion and buffet to improve campus life

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Students get ready to brainstorm. (Photo: Dave Lalonde)

The second annual Café Santa Maria offered students a free lunch at the Saint Mary's Student Centre on Tuesday.

The catch? Students had to participate in a group brainstorming session about how to improve student life on campus.

The loudest applause of the afternoon came when Jahmeek Taylor, a star receiver for the Saint Mary's Huskies, stood at the microphone and preached for more school spirit.

"We've got to know we're all Huskies here. And once a Husky, always a Husky!"

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The buffet offered a wide variety of foods. (Photo: Dave Lalonde)

Taylor was the first of many students to offer an opinion on how to improve Saint Mary's University student life. Although Taylor got the biggest cheer, most other suggestions were also well-received.

One popular idea was to resurrect the campus radio station. The participating students agreed that a station aimed at the SMU community would be a great way to promote awareness of games and events happening on campus.

A request to have the library open 24 hours a day got the room buzzing.

"We're not all morning people," said one student. "Some of us want to do our work at night but there's nowhere to go."

Several other ideas received applause:
• More social organizations on campus
• Hot water taps available on campus
• Water fountains for the Student Centre
• A weekly farmer's market on campus
• More healthy snack choices around campus

The Saint Mary's University Student Association organized the event. About 60 students participated. The students ate from a buffet filled with sushi, tabouleh and fried chicken, among other options.

The students sat down at tables in groups of four after they ate. Each table had a set of questions about how to improve student life at SMU. Every table took part in the discussion and elected a representative to speak into the microphone. That representative offered their group's suggestions to everyone else.

The mood at the event was lively. There were few empty tables in the room and the discussions were enthusiastic. Almost all students who participated stayed until the hour and a half event was over, long after finishing their meals.

Matt Anderson, president of SMUSA, hosted the event. He said Café Santa Maria allows students to speak honestly about their campus experience, which helps SMUSA know what they should push for to improve campus life.

Cathie Ross, general manager of SMUSA, said she hoped the event would attract a wide range of students so SMUSA could hear a variety of ideas. She said she was happy they were able to accomplish that goal.

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