Campus - 24.11.2020 - 00:00 

Infrastructure Initiative: More space for student commitment

Coworking Space, entrepreneur centre, event locations – the projects of the Infrastructure Initiative create unique premises in the city which are intended to encourage student commitment, in particular. What is unusual, though: the initiative is run by students themselves. By student reporter Niels Niemann.

24 November 2020. Just over two years ago, the Coworking Space of the Student Union, theCO, was inaugurated with a formal ceremony. Since then, students have had the opportunity to cultivate an exchange in the middle of the city and to work together on innovative projects. Driven by students’ consistently positive feedback, the Student Union has now established its own Infrastructure Initiative, which intends to create new premises for students in cooperation with the University of St.Gallen. “The initiative aims to encourage students’ strong commitment in terms of infrastructure as well,” emphasises Florian Wußmann, the founder president of the Infrastructure Initiative. He runs the new initiative together with his team, which consists entirely of students.

“A student initiative opens up new options in the field of infrastructure for the University of St.Gallen and the Student Union which were unimaginable before,” continues Wußmann. Thus students will be able to exert much more influence on how they want to learn and work in the future. At the same time, however, the new premises will also provide an opportunity for the HSG to identify students’ requirements and to bring these to bear on its own infrastructural projects such as the Learning Center and the Platztor campus.

The future of learning already today

With theCO, the first step of “studying in the city” was made two years ago. However, these premises are more than a mere learning space: the Coworking Space enables students to implement creative and innovative working methods and more intensive cooperation. Thus in theCO, “the teaching and learning is being tried out as it is intended to be implemented in the Learning Center later on,” adds Wußmann.

Above and beyond this theCO, which is located in Müller-Friedberg-Strasse 6, has also evolved into a meeting point for students in the city. In particular, they appreciate its proximity to the Market Square. On the basis of this resonance, the idea of a further infrastructural project of the Student Union was born early in the year, when premises in Rosenbergstrasse 51 were freed up.

Ecosystem for entrepreneurship

Directly adjacent to St.Gallen’s Main Railway Station, theHUB was set up as a student centre for entrepreneurship. The associations and start-ups of HSG students which until the beginning of the year had been accommodated in the founder containers on the campus were able to move into their new offices in the city. Together with various institutions within the same building, the aim was for synergies to be exploited and a conjoint community to be created.

Whereas the third floor is reserved for the start-ups and entrepreneurial talents of Startup@HSG, the student associations are one floor below. The single exception is START Global, which owing to its size is still housed in Rosenbergstrasse 30 together with the Institute of Computer Science. According to Wußmann, they should be integrated into theHUB a few house numbers further on in the long term in order to complete the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

A stage for student commitment

The third and latest project of the Infrastructure Initiative is the event locality, theSTAGE, which is situated in St. Jakob-Strasse 21 and thus directly beside the future Platztor campus. This is meant to relieve theCO with regard to the organisation of events, for one thing, but also – as the name indicates – provide a stage for student commitment, and this directly in the main street. This is why besides other structural changes, the continuous glass front on the ground floor was also extended.

Although the inauguration has only been scheduled for February, student initiatives already have an opportunity to reserve theSTAGE for future events. Whether these will actually be able to take place, however, depends on the development of the corona situation. Accordingly, some student organisations already have planned hybrid concepts for their events, such as live streams of panel discussions from theSTAGE.

Both the Infrastructure Initiative and the concept for theSTAGE came into being when the corona crisis was already a relevant factor, since for Wußmann, the pandemic is not a reason for not investing in infrastructure. He emphasises: “We believe in the value of personal interaction even in times of a global pandemic.” In all three premises, cooperation between students should be maintained inasmuch as it makes sense and the protection concepts can be complied with. All according to the motto: Connect. Collaborate. Create.

Niels Niemann is studying for a Master’s degree in Marketing Management at the University of St.Gallen.

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