Ryerson Revolution, “Rye Rev,” is a series dedicated to giving students a chance to share their thoughts on what they’d like to change about the university based on their personal and academic experiences. It doesn’t matter what program you come from or your level of campus engagement.
If you had the chance to revolutionize Ryerson, what would you want to see?
Over the course of my four years as a Ryerson student, I have witnessed the many transformations that have led to its recognition as an innovative city builder. Ryerson prides itself on offering a fresh approach to the university experience, but with every new change, it feels increasingly sterile, impersonal, and uninviting.
“Innovation” is a word Ryerson people like to throw around, but as much of a crowd-pleaser that it is, all I’m seeing is the use of trendy construction and technologies that will be outdated in five to 10 years.
Why was there a massive car advertisement outside of the library? Why can’t I walk from one class to the other without getting hassled by Because I Am A Girl representatives? Does Ryerson’s definition of innovation go beyond the bells and whistles of fancy buildings and Nordic designs?
Ryerson has a tendency to overlook existing structures that are in need of repair and general upkeep. It flounces from one project to the next, leaving rickety elevators, flickering lights, and broken hand dryers in its wake. Some of the few campus washrooms that were renovated in the last couple of years were redesigned with achromatic shades and stylish new hand dryers, but even those eventually broke down.
It’s common to run into students working full-time hours in order to pay their tuition, which keeps them out of the classroom and robs them of time needed to study. Rarer still is the student who can afford tuition in addition to renting downtown. As a result, many students commute for hours a day to attend classes that begin as early as 8 a.m. and as late as 7 p.m.
The weight of tuition, early and late commutes, and other school-related costs combined with the unwavering pressure to perform well is overwhelming. Ryerson offers great services to help students cope with these stressors, but nothing to reduce the factors that contribute to them.
Blame is often placed on the students for taking on too much and mismanaging their time. From the students’ perspective, the odds are stacked against them.
But not all students are at a loss however. Those who are affiliated with Ryerson’s learning zones are gaining an invaluable skillset that’ll help launch them into the desired industry, but what about the students outside of the zones? Do they have to be involved in order to have a chance at success? Is it helping all students or just a privileged few with ideas that fall within Ryerson’s modernized mission statement?
Ryerson responded to its repeatedly low QS World University Rankings by accusing them of using outdated methods. Perhaps Ryerson is not entirely wrong, and maybe the QS scores should implement some more modern aspects into what they measure, but I can’t help gain the impression that Ryerson is building its own exclusive clubhouse where only Ryerson’s rules apply.
Ryerson continues to focus on building the new rather than revitalizing the old and insists that reducing student fees is implausible — a considerably old school response for a university that thrives on new ideas and achieving the impossible.
Maybe instead of innovating to have the latest and greatest, what would actually be innovating is changing the functions and/or mishaps of a traditional university.
Everyone makes a mark. Your turn, Ryerson.
Photos by Jake Kivanc