University Centre, 3480 Mc Tavish
The famous Shatner Ballroom goes way back. In the mid- 1950s, The Students’ Society of McGill University decided they needed a building dedicated to student services and activities, and in 1965, they did just that. Initially named ‘the University Centre’, a 1992 SSMU referendum sought to change it to the ‘William Shatner University Centre’. Although the referendum failed, it has since been officially referred to as the Shatner building, in honor of the space cadet alumni.
The Shatner Building
In the mid-1950s, SSMU successfully convinced the Board of Governors of the need for a building devoted to student services and activities. The SSMU presented a brief and enclosed a check of $25 000 as a donation for the New McGill Student Union Building Endowment Fund, indicating the students’ strong desire for a new building. McGill’s nearly 12,000 students were excited when the Premier of Quebec, Jean Lesage, officially opened the University Centre on October 15th, 1965. Although owned by McGill University, it is now operated by students, for students. In 1992, a SSMU referendum sought to change the official name “University Centre” to the “Willam Shatner University Centre,” in honor of the Canadian actor who graduated from McGill with a BCom in 1952. After all, the logic went, no other McGill graduate has ever commanded a starship within 15 years of graduating! Although a majority of students supported the idea, the university rejected the results because of toponymy regulations. Nevertheless, it has ever since been affectionately referred to as the Shatner building. A significant initiative from former SSMU President Duncan Reid (1998) was the McGill Undergraduate Student Fund. The purpose of the fund was to address the urgent financial concerns caused by government cuts in post secondary education. There were three areas targeted for funding: libraries, University Centre renovations, and the creation of a bursary fund for students in financial difficulty. The university agreed to match dollar for dollar the money collected from students. The fund was successful, but bittersweet. Improvements overseen by this fund include increased library hours and physical improvements to libraries; SSMU’s Campus Life Fund (over $35,000 annually), which allows students to apply for events that enrich campus life; and renovations to the Shatner building. In 2004, this fee was cut in half.