ANTIGONISH: A new space at StFX University, known as the Bloomfield Hub, is catered towards students who want to enjoy themselves in an alcohol-free environment, but still experience a night out.
Student facilitator Fiona Beaton told The Reporter this kind of movement of creating, positive, unstructured spaces students can use for free comes from both the Okanagan and Ottawa Charters.
“It’s based off a piece of framework from those pieces of research and kind of with the Ronald MacDonald Houses, where people can just go in and take what they need from the program,” Beaton, who is originally from Ottawa said. “The space is also utilized to curb the isolation that people are feeling.”
The fourth year human kinetics major indicated their space located inside the second floor of the Bloomfield Centre has been sort of a growing project specifically targeting first and second year students who may be feeling a little more isolated.
“Just sort of helping them find people at the school they can connect with that’s not academic, that’s not drinking related,” Beaton said. “A lot of social pressures when you’re starting university can come from thinking you’ll only make a good group of friends if you’re going out every weekend and meeting people at parties.”
That’s something the Bloomfield Hub is trying to curb.
Operating Wednesday to Saturday evenings from 7–10 p.m., on night people would typically go out, Beaton suggested it’s a nice second option for students.
“We extend the olive branch out to all kind of societies at StFX to come and use the space if they want to put on a theme night,” she said. “It’s kind of a nice space to have; organizations don’t have to worry about the cost, or the stress or getting that organized, they just have to show up and they can do their event.”
Such events have been hosted by the LGBTQ+ society, there has been an Indigenous beading night, a rock painting night, there has been mug decorating, a yoga night, candy bar bingo, plant night, a games night, movie nights, and an international night.
“But then on a night where there is no theme, we still offer the space as a come and get what you need to de-stress and take a break from studying,” Beaton said. “We have a cart stocked with colouring pages, art supplies, games and music, stuff like that.”
Beginning to be implemented in December, the Bloomfield Hub has only been in operation for the past eight weeks, starting after the Holiday break.
“It was definitely a slow start, we were finding students are a bit hesitant sometimes to come into something new like that,” Beaton said. “So we definitely used social media as our biggest advantage, we’ve gained quite a following; and now have like 300 followers on our Instagram.”
To stay up-to-date on what’s happening, Bloomfield_Hub is on Instagram.
Despite being in full force for only eight weeks, she indicates they’re hoping to keep the program going next year, as there are so many things they can do that is helpful for students to relieve stress and be a positive space for them.
“I think at StFX sometimes, it’s not necessarily a struggle, but it’s just a fact of the university there tends to be these pockets of people, and there are students who maybe feel as though they don’t identify with a particular niche group around the school,” Beaton said. “This is supposed to be a place where that’s dismantled and we don’t have those socially isolated-type groups.”