‘Not Many Come at All’: BKSS Struggles to Rebuild Campus Presence
By Grace Danielson
The Brian Kenyon Student Space (BKSS) reopened on 29 March after a two-month renovation period, but has faced a lack of engagement from students.
ANUSA Vice-President Christian Flynn told Observer that the BKSS’s extended shutdown period of over a year meant students who arrived this year had “no knowledge of the space”. As a student space providing free meals, kitchen services, and a study and social space, “ANUSA and BKSS staff have been working hard to promote the space” as an “underutilised” student service.
Prior to the opening of Kambri in 2019, the BKSS was located in Melville Hall and was one of the most popular social and study spaces for ANU students.
The new BKSS is located on level two of the Di Riddell Student Centre in Kambri. Open weekdays from 8:30 am-7:30 pm, BKSS provides a space for students to study, socialise and make free cups of tea and coffee. A recent update to the University’s COVID guidelines has meant that the space has a capacity of up to 20 students.
Feedback from students who regularly visit the space, collected by Flynn, suggests that the low use of the space is due to a problem of signage and visibility. One student stated that “no one knows the BKSS is [in Di Riddell Student Centre]” and even suggested BKSS change location and put up more accessible signs.
Flynn told Observer the BKSS have signs around the manager desk which they are “required to show either for ANUSA policy or legal reasons (e.g food safety certificates, hire equipment information etc)”. One student commented, “if [signs] are all the same tone, the font is the same colour as the background, and they’re all right next to each other, they’re impossible to differentiate”. Flynn responded to this student’s concern by stating that BKSS will be “working on the accessibility of our signs”.
Another student praised BKSS, stating the “community is warm, and the space is comfortable”. However, they also pointed out that if “too few people” use the space, it can “detract from the sense of community”. This was echoed by another student who said the other students that frequently visit BKSS are “very friendly, but not many come at all”.
BKSS holds Universal Lunch Hour (a free BBQ lunch to promote a club or outside organisation) every Thursday. On Fridays, they hold Student Bites, where students can buy a whole bag of quality supermarket food (fresh vegetables, fruits and baked goods) for a gold coin. In addition, BKSS provides toaster and microwave access as well as umbrella and charger loaning upon request. However, one student’s feedback highlighted that the “charging ports are difficult to access and use safely”.
A BKSS staff member stated, “re-opening the space amidst COVID-19 restrictions was a challenge”. Although the space was required to limit its services and capacity, the team is “looking forward to re-opening the space in its full capacity”.
Graphics by Joseph Oh
Want to get involved? You can write articles, photograph, livestream or do web support. We’re also looking for someone to yell “extra!” outside Davey Lodge at 1AM. Apply today!