Osgoode Chambers residence opens for business

Osgoode Hall Law School students now have a place they can call their very own.

On Wednesday, York University opened the Osgoode Chambers residence on the Keele campus. More than 150 people from the York and Osgoode communities celebrated the official opening with a barbecue, ribbon cutting and flag-raising ceremony.

Above: Osgoode Dean Patrick Monahan (centre) with students and faculty celebrating the opening of the O.C.

Osgoode Chambers, otherwise known affectionately as "the O. C.", is located across the street from the law school and consists of a group of dedicated townhouses in the Passy Gardens student housing complex. The new residence faces onto a courtyard and features 137 units including furnished bachelor suites, one-bedroom townhouse suites and one two-bedroom suite, all with self-contained kitchens and bathrooms along with wireless Internet. As well, there’s the Owls’ Nest lounge, located at the heart of the O.C., where law students can kick back, relax and socialize.

"The creation of Osgoode Chambers is something that all of us at Osgoode have been thinking about for a long time and it’s something I’ve been thinking about for more than 30 years," joked Osgoode Hall Law School Dean Patrick Monahan (right), master of ceremonies for the event. "When I was a student at Osgoode in the late ‘70s, I lived on campus for three years in an apartment in #4 (now #340) Assiniboine Road and I never knew my neighbours. I’d see people in the elevators now and then, but from my experience, I could have been living in an apartment building at Victoria Park and Eglinton or on Bloor Street – it was just another apartment building. A couple of years later I moved to the US and saw how things were at Harvard where they have dedicated residences for law students. I thought to myself, ‘Wouldn’t that have been great to have at Osgoode’."

Monahan said that when he became dean of the law school five years ago, he saw an opportunity to make his dream of a dedicated residence for Osgoode students come true. Working closely with Mike Markicevic, York’s assistant vice-president, campus services & business operations, Monahan sought input from the Osgoode student body. The students’ overwhelming support for establishing the residence provided the impetus to move forward with creating the O.C. The results, said Monahan, have been well worth the effort.

Left: From left, Osgoode student representatives Shane D’Souza and JP Rodriguez with Dean Patrick Monahan and Osgoode Chambers Residence Fellows Emiliee Whetung and Dan Micak prepare to cut a ribbon heralding the official opening of the Osgoode Chambers and the Owls’ Nest student lounge

In addition to housing students, the residence serves another strategic purpose. Recruiting outstanding students from out of province to Osgoode Hall Law School has proven difficult in the last few years without a residence dedicated to law students. That has all changed with the creation of Osgoode Chambers, said Monahan. "This residence is about a community and I can tell you that it is already working and already a success. We’ve had a 33 per cent increase in first-year students who are coming into Osgoode and the residence."

On Monday, Osgoode hosted a breakfast for the residents of Osgoode Chambers and Monahan said he was gratified to see students already bonding and establishing their community. "Having a learning community like this is tremendous. I am absolutely thrilled with the success," said Monahan.

"I’m looking to expand the community each year through the Passy Gardens residence!" he joked.

Student representatives Jean Paul (JP) Rodriguez, president of Osgoode’s Legal & Literary Society and Shane D’Souza, chair of Osgoode’s Student Caucus praised the law school for the establishment of the O.C. "The point of the O.C. is to meet people from other sections and make connections," said D’Souza.

"I lived in Passy for my first year, there was a sense there were other Osgoode students living in residence but it was hard to find them," said Rodriguez. "That’s why I think the O.C. and the Owls’ Nest are really important for the Osgoode community."

Following the official greetings, there was a flag-raising ceremony, which Monahan said was to show, to the wider community, the law school’s pride in its residence.

Right: Two Osgoode law students display the Osgoode flag that was raised along with flags for Ontario and Canada. The flags were raised to a resounding chorus of O Canada.

Incoming first-year students for the 2008-2009 academic year were guaranteed accommodation at Osgoode Chambers for the full three years of study as long as they hold a continuous 12-month lease. Students also have the option of an eight-month lease if they want the first year only at Osgoode Chambers. Any remaining units after incoming first-year students had their pick were then allocated to upper-year students on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, visit the Osgoode Chambers Web site.