By Anastasia Sytnyk
Aras na Mac Leinn has become one of the most social areas of the University, thanks to the much-loved Hub. The Hub has been set up for students to sit down and relax with their friends, as well as play a game of foosball or pool to kill some time between lectures.
Walking through the glass doors of the Hub you will be welcomed by the chatter of the many diverse students socializing. The laughter and cheer of the Hub are almost intoxicating (keep in mind that alcohol is strictly forbidden in the Hub!).
Everywhere you look, you see students enjoying the company of one another, and although this may come as a surprise to some, no one is left sitting on the ground. That’s right, the Hub is beautifully furnished by leather couches as well as glass tables and chairs, perfect for board games and anything else people use tables for!
The Hub is not only a place for socializing, but it is also a place where food can be prepared. The Kitchen has been installed for students who commute and don’t have the opportunity to go home and grab a lunch. The kitchen has ovens, stoves, microwaves, and a water boiler, which students can use to make tea or coffee. Once you enter the kitchen you will see a jar of sugar, tea bags, coffee, and biscuits, all provided by the friendly and caring Hub staff.
The Hub organizes special events each Friday starting from 5pm, where the Hub staff provides pizzas as well as various fruits and snacks. The Hub also has a massage chair, the key to which can be found at the Socs box office, where they will grant you access for one hour. This is all free!
However, our Hub does fall victim to being shut down for graduations, meaning the students that attend the Hub religiously have nowhere else to go. The Hub gets emptied out and shut down, leaving the students with long commutes with no place to prepare and eat their meals, and no longer can students enjoy the massage chair room or the various games that the Hub has to offer.
Where do those students go? What will happen to those who pull through their entire week just to enjoy some free snacks on a Friday evening? SIN spoke to Students’ Union President Megan Reilly and the father of the Hub Niall Cloonan, who shared their thoughts on the matter.
“In the last few years the Hub has become a space for students to socialize, to take a breather between lectures, and access the kitchen,” says Megan Reilly. “Massive amounts of work have gone in by the Societies office and others to make that much-needed space what it is.”
“We are against the Hub being used for graduations and have voiced as much at meetings regarding the issue. With such a lack of social space on campus, having such a key resource taken away for weeks is just not a fair option, and we’ll be lobbying to have another venue used for the food after conferring going forward.”
Niall Cloonan, WELL Crew Program Facilitator says: “I realize that graduation is a big event, and it is undoubtedly a time for celebration, to mark a major milestone in an individual’s life. I also believe they would be very understanding in having The Hub left open for students to use during conferring, and would be just as happy to have tea and sandwiches in another room of Aras na Mac Leinn.”
“The ability to have a place to come and chill out with other students, make yourself a cup of tea, socialize or even just relax between lectures has become such an integral part of students’ lives here in NUI Galway. To take that away from students a few times a semester, particularly around exams, seems so counterintuitive to the current aims and objectives of the University with regards to social spaces for students.”
With the current battle for social space for the grand population of students, it feels unfair for the University to claim that they are fighting this issue, when they voluntarily shut down the most social student area on campus for conferring ceremonies. The issues around this subject are still being reviewed, and hopefully will be sorted by September.
Image: The Hub NUIG on Facebook