Carleton Neuroscience Students worry about research, ponder legal action
Neuroscience students at Carleton University are considering legal action over a move they say that could jeopardize their research. The students have to be out of their old building undergoing construction but won't get access to their new space for months after that. It's ironic that much of the research these neuroscience students are doing is focused on stress and depression; something they are becoming too familiar with as they worry about years of work coming to a temporary halt.
Ashley Thompson is a fourth year PhD student in neuroscience with a focus on Parkinson's.
It is time-sensitive lab work with mice that can't handle a disruption in research.
“Not knowing what's going to happen with your research,” says Thompson, “is the definition of this stress which is what we are being put under.”
The stress is coming from a planned move into this brand new $45 million dollar Health Sciences building. That's the good news. The bad news is that the 50 grad students and 550 undergrads have to leave their current space soon. Renovations to the Life Sciences Research Building are supposed to begin March 1, meaning that the neuroscience students have to move out by that time. The problem is the building they are supposed to move into won't be ready until the fall of next year at the earliest.
Carleton University says that gap will now be addressed by sending the students to a temporary space at the University of Ottawa.
“Carleton’s Neuroscience Department will be temporarily relocated from the Life Sciences Research Building to the University of Ottawa,” the university said in a statement, “where lab space has been secured until the construction of the new Health Sciences Building is complete. This space at uOttawa addresses core requirements for the research and managers are working closely with faculty and students to minimize disruptions.”
“The move of academic departments at universities is not uncommon. Planning is now underway to implement the solution announced on Nov. 30 and Carleton is working to address the project and research needs to the maximum extent possible. During the move, appropriately licenced companies will transport equipment with the greatest care. The new Health Sciences Building, which will house Neuroscience and all of our extensive health-related programs, will offer significant advantages for future students. Carleton is paying for the state-of-the-art facility at a cost of $45 million.”
The chair of the neuroscience department says that temporary solution won't work if his students can't
continue their experiments. He, and many of the students, fear years of research and money will be lost.
“The one thing missing in that lab facilities is actual labs,” says Dr. John Stead, Neuroscience Department Chair, “the only fix we see is to try to delay start of construction in this building for an additional 9 months to allow us to move directly from this building into new building.”
In the meantime, students are closely examining their options. They've started a go-fund-me page to raise money possibly for legal action.
Greg Owens is an undergraduate student in neuroscience, “No one is currently speaking with lawyers and in the act of suing the university,” he says, “nobody wants to get to that point. People are looking at legal options to see what route of options exists in the event that this eviction happens.”
The students have also started a petition, asking the provincial and federal governments, who are paying to renovate the Life Sciences Building, allow the university to extend that funding deadline.