It’s two in the afternoon, the day is Thursday September 6th, and Ryerson is a centre of bustling activity as its Week of Welcome continues to unfold. On this particular day, Gould Street is host to the yearly disOrientation event, devoted entirely to equity student groups on campus, among them RyePride, the Centre for Women and Trans People, and the Racialised Students’ Collective.
Many of these groups function under the leadership of the Ryerson Student Union, your representative student body. Designed to advocate for students from all walks of life, the RSU is responsible for funding and supporting on-campus organizations with the goal of improving student life.
Recent achievements by the RSU include the permanent closure of Gould Street to a pedestrian-only area, the launch of the Sexual Assault Survivor Support Line, and a discounted student TTC Metropass. But as the new year starts, some new and other not-so-new campaigns and goals have started to emerge. The most prominent, perhaps, is tuition hikes.
With a majority of students attending university with a growing mountain of debt, it is this issue that most affects us. But last year when the RSU held its General Annual Meeting with a main focus on decreasing tuition, only 80 students showed up.
A commuter school at heart, Ryerson accommodates students who more often than not leave the downtown core and go home after a long day at school. This inhibits students’ ability to participate and get involved. And then there is also the logic that if you don’t live on or around campus, it might not matter so much to you that Gould Street is closed.
For many of us, though, this will be our one and only university experience; and as such, we should care about it. You might wish there were more student lounges, or maybe you would like to meet people of similar backgrounds and beliefs. Dig a little, and you might find that there is something on campus for you. Here are a few group categories worth knowing about:
1. Course Unions: Each program is designated its own Union, of which you – yes, you – are a part of. All full-time undergrads are automatically members of the union, which is funded and supported by the RSU.
2. Student Groups: A variety of groups are out there for students with different interests to get to know each other and take action on issues that affect them. Currently, there are more than 60 student groups on campus.
3. Equity Service Groups: Designed to overcome marginalization of student minorities such as women, LGBT students, students with disabilities, and students of colour. Such groups offer volunteer opportunities as well as events and campaigns in the interests of such minorities.