By Kristy Koehler, April 16 2020—
The Kinesiology Department at the University of Calgary is getting some much-needed upgrades, commensurate with its first-place ranking in North America for Sport Science Schools and Departments.
Mathieu Chin, the Students’ Union Faculty of Kinesiology representative, has been very busy. He ended his second term in office by getting funding for three projects he believes will better the lives of students in his faculty — a new fitness space, more seating in the kinesiology buildings and a scholarship specifically for kinesiology students.
In his role as a faculty representative, Chin sends out an annual survey to kinesiology students. The main concern he heard mirrored an issue brought to light by an Active Living survey — overcrowding in the fitness center and not enough equipment.
According to the Quality Money application submitted, the average post-secondary institution in Canada with a similar student population to the U of C has between 25,000 and 30,000 square feet of fitness space. U of C has 12,000 square feet.
The glassed-in area in the northeast corner of the Gold Gym was originally intended to be used as a fitness space, but is currently being used as storage. Chin’s project will see that space get some minor renovations and new equipment, converting it to a Functional Fitness space.
“Lots of the equipment will be geared towards high intensity interval-type training so hopefully it will not only give students more space but also give them new types of exercise and equipment to check out,” says Chin.
Penny Werthner, dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology, says the space will accentuate the importance of being physically active and promoting movement as medicine.
Another issue Chin identified within his faculty was the rate in which it was growing. That growth rate, he says, was not leading to an increase in scholarships available to the students in the faculty. In collaboration with the faculty as well as with former SU president — and former kinesiology rep — Sagar Grewal, three $1,000 scholarships will be available every year that are specific to Kinesiology undergraduate students. The Quality Money committee approved $78,000 to be placed into the university’s central investment fund for scholarships, and the interest generated each year will allow the scholarships to continue in perpetuity.
The third project — increasing the amount of furniture and sitting spaces in Kinesiology A and B buildings — was approved through the Campus Improvement Fund. Chin says that with enrollment increasing in the faculty, students lack places to sit and study and you can often find people seated on the floor doing their homework. The approximately $23,000 investment will provide a more comfortable environment for students.
Chin says without COVID-19, the furniture implementation project might already have been underway. But, he’s hopeful that all three projects will be completed in the 2020–21 academic year.
“We do seem to be continuing with some construction and there’s an opportunity to do so as long as those working in that area can work and social distance,” says Werthner. “I would hope we’ll be able to move forward, probably a little but slower, but move forward as soon as we can.”
The projects, says Chin, would not have been possible without the collaboration between the Faculty of Kinesiology, Active Living and the Students’ Union.
“We’re always appreciative of the great students we have in kinesiology and how they go and successfully look for dollars,” said Werthner. “We’re very grateful for the opportunity to apply for this money and then use it to make a better environment for our students. We’re very happy to have that opportunity and then when we’re successful, it’s fantastic.”
Not only was Chins successful, he worked tirelessly on bringing the projects to life while taking five courses each semester.
“I knew before the school year started this is what I wanted to do, so it was always in the back of my mind to make time for it,” he said.
Chin is headed to the Cumming School of Medicine with the goal of becoming a doctor. He looks forward to watching the projects come to fruition.
“This year, I wanted to leave behind a legacy project,” he says. “These three projects are my biggest accomplishments in my last two years as Kinesiology rep.”
The projects total $172,136.53 and are a direct result, he says, of listening to students.
“All these projects really stem from the student voice — hearing what students had concerns about and how the faculty could be improved not only for the student experience, but for the academic experience and making university more affordable,” he says. “Ultimately it was a collaboration with all 1,000 students in the Faculty of Kinesiology. It’s a big win for us.”