Ah, the ECE Common Room. The spot where me and a few of my buddies would spend hours just chilling between classes during our first year. However, a large part of why we enjoyed staying there so much was that it was largely unused by students other than ourselves, and we could do whatever we wanted in it as a result. It is right around the corner from the Pit, yet even many ECEs don’t realize it exists. It is quite small, yet personal. However, visiting other discipline common rooms with my friends, I can’t help but wish it was something better, somewhere that would actually attract more ECEs to use it more often, somewhere I could spend even more time in, somewhere that could be used more than just for lunch breaks, pre-exam cramming sessions, and a good place to sleep overnight on campus.

Of course, ECE has its much more widely used ECE Study Hall, however it is just that: a study room in Bahen with only chairs, sofas, tables, and a whiteboard, that always smells kind of funny. However, the Study Hall’s existence is a double-edged sword. While it was originally intended to be a new common room, those in charge of room allocation at Bahen insisted that it only be used as a Study Hall, citing the existence of both the ECE Common Room and the ECE Club Room as sufficient for social tasks.

The Common Room is also a sad tale of once was. It currently contains three sofas and a chair with enough space to comfortably seat around eight, although the two cloth sofas are quite filthy and in a state of disrepair. It also has two footrests, which are mostly used to throw stuff on instead. It temporarily hosted two tables and some additional plastic chairs; however, they have since been removed, and this is a recurring theme. 

It currently has one HDTV as its centerpiece; however, it is a shell of its former self. There used to be an Xbox 360 hooked up to it, but it red-ringed two years ago, so it sits back in its both with about 20 games collecting dust in the Club Room. It also used to have a Chromecast attached for easy streaming, however it too has seemingly disappeared. Now all it has left connected to it is a single HDMI cable that is far too short. 

The only place you could keep your laptop high enough for that cable is on top of the Foosball table, which is probably the only thing it’s good for anymore as the balls required to play have also left the Common Room in recent times. It is also currently home to the ECE Arcade Machine, which was created for a prank this past year. Unfortunately, it often breaks down and is unplayable, but your mileage may vary. The ECE Club is also quite proud of its vending machine with “The Cheapest Pop on Campus,” at 75¢ apiece. However, that is only when the pop is in stock, as it is up to the discretion of the ECE Club Facilities Manager to decide when to refill it, and it is usually not frequent enough, sometimes going as long as two whole weeks to refill, by that time every single pop can going out of stock. Additionally, the machine only takes change of a loonie and under, making it quite inconvenient to buy from.

Lastly, the ECE Common Room is also the home of the Skule Smash Club. There are two CRT TVs in the back, with a GameCube and Wii both housing copies of Super Smash Brothers Melee. However, there are no controllers anywhere in the room so you have to bring your own. Additionally, one of the CRTs takes up the entirety of the only table in the room, and both the GameCube and Wii are locked in cages so you can’t play other games even if you wanted to. Which is quite baffling considering there are cases for other games and some movies sitting doing nothing on that table. And of course, they only play Melee, when clearly Ultimate is the superior game.

The presence of the Smash Club in the Common Room has created friction between themselves and many frequent Common Room denizens, as it is quite a small room, and the setups cause some deal of noise and distraction. Combine this with the Smash Clubs large membership, and it is literally impossible to sit in there doing anything else almost every day of the week after around 5pm. The majority of the Smash Club is not from ECE, and there are a good number that are not in Engineering altogether, so some ECEs really despise their presence. Many don’t enter the Common Room when there are Smashers present, while others have gone to the extremes of attempting to sabotage their equipment.

Overall, the ECE Common Room is quite unpopular among ECEs, and is often considered to be a “man cave,” and it isn’t hard to see why. There is little to do other than sleeping on one of the couches or playing Melee, as the Xbox and Chromecast are gone, the foosball balls were stolen, the arcade machine works only half of the time, and the cables to the HDTV aren’t long enough. It gets quite stuffy with no good way to keep the door open. There are no tables to do work on anymore, and the Study Hall is better for that purpose anyways. It is constantly neglected, both in terms of the notoriously empty pop machine, and in general cleanliness, you will undoubtedly find garbage lying around, or the floor sticky. Most of the valuables and pretty much anything of interest owned by the ECE Club, which is actually a lot mind you, are kept locked up in the elusive ECE Club Room, which can only be accessed with one of around six keys given out only to the highest-ranking club members. But I cannot really blame them, with all the stuff that’s been stolen or just simply removed from the Common Room, like the foosballs, Chromecast, tables, and even one of my friend’s bookbags during a SUDs once.

So, what can be done to improve it? Well plenty, and it’s easy to take some notes from the other common rooms. The first priority: find a new permanent room for the Smash Club, and kick them out, as this is a major deterrent for a lot of ECEs I spoke to. Get the tables that were removed back, so we could have the option of productivity. Invest in a new Chromecast and longer cables for the TV, and potentially lock them into place like the Smash systems. Get some more balls for the foosball table, and keep a few spares in the Club Room just it case. Get some more volunteers in the ECE Club for maintenance, in stocking the vending machine, cleaning, and making sure the arcade machine works properly. Figure out a way for the pop machine to accept toonies. Refurbish the couches, and potentially swap them for ones in the Study Hall. 

Finally, do something about the state of the Club Room vs the Common Room. There is so much extra stuff in the Club Room that most ECEs cannot access, and even some borderline pointless stuff like the Xbox disks that cannot be played without the Xbox which no longer works. Sell some things off, invest in new equipment, and share more with the Common Room, the Club Room has two refrigerators, while the Common Room has none. I was a part of the ECE Club in the second semester of last year, only because I, like many, literally didn’t realize it existed in the first. But besides the Dinner Dance and a few small events and builds, even I as a club member didn’t feel like it did too much for the greater ECE population. However, with only one of the eight elected executive positions filled for this coming year, and only one class rep elected, there seems to be a severe lack of interest in the ECE Club and functions in general, so things aren’t looking too bright for the year ahead.

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