Live and learn

New residences opened last fall on the University of Saskatchewan campus in Saskatoon, and they are quickly making a difference for students from around the world.

By Andy Sargent
"In terms of developing social relationships, there's nothing better than living in res," said Renae Zook, third-year biochemistry student and resident advisor (RA) in Spruce Hall, one of the new student residences in College Quarter on the U of S campus.

She has lived in residence since she originally moved to the U of S from Trochu, AB, about an hour and a half north east of Calgary, to take the classes she needs to apply to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine.

"When I first moved here, I stayed in my room and only left to buy textbooks. After a day and a half, I was starving," Zook laughed. "I went to Marquis Hall to eat and sat down with some people, and I'm still friends with some of the people that were at that table."

Over 1,700 students currently live in residence at the U of S, with about 660 additional beds slated to open by early 2013. The growing demand for student housing is fuelled in part by the support and services offered to residence students, which are especially helpful to students new to Saskatoon.

"The ethos of residence is student support," said Sylvia Cholodnuik, residence manager. "The student life staff, the residence staff, the custodial staff, we're all here to create a positive student experience."

That staff includes RAs like Zook, who are upper-year students who are there for students to talk to and co-ordinate residence activities; advisors, who co-ordinate and support the RAs; and residence life co-ordinators, who are full-time live-in staff. Between the three levels of staff, residence students have 24-hour coverage.

Additional support is found with the faculty-in-residence, currently offered at Voyageur Place and College Quarter. The faculty member lives in residence and offers students academic advice and support, and co-ordinates drop-in tutoring time led by graduate students.

As more students live at the U of S, residence staff members are finding new ways to work with other groups both on and off campus.

"It's really exciting to see what the possibilities are to work with others to create positive experiences and support for all these groups," said Cholodnuik. "In terms of how students are building a community, I think we are meeting our goals."

A range of activities like pancake breakfasts, casino nights and dances, Saskatoon Blades games and sushi-making nights ensure there is something that everyone will have a good time doing.

Zook knows first-hand the benefits of not only participating in the activities, but just living in student residence and would recommend it to anyone moving to attend the U of S.

"There's always something going on," she said. "If it's 3 a.m. and you can't sleep there's someone watching TV or studying. And for parents, it's just a comfort factor. You don't have to worry."

For information on the U of S student residences, visit