Through the eyes of a Graduating Student: Ellie McClaren

In September, Folio ran a series asking first-year students to show us Ryerson from their perspective. This time, we asked graduating students to take us around campus during their last few weeks at Ryerson. Here’s Ellie McClaren, photography ’16.

As someone who has been at Ryerson for six years, I’ve been witness to some major changes in our university’s life. I came here as a business student in 2010. This was back when the Student Learning Centre was a hole in the ground and the Mattamy Athletic Centre was a rumour; before the original Salad King burned down, before toilet paper-gate, and before some geniuses painted Gould Street to look like a pond in a mini-putt course. Whether it was my time here as a business student, or now, a photography student, I’ve always felt most engaged with Ryerson life when I was photographing it. So I want to apologize off the bat. If it is my task to reflect on how Ryerson has changed, I can’t justify taking new pictures to illustrate my point. I have the ability to show what really was through a collection of documentary (albeit aesthetically subpar) images. So please forgive my lapses in Photoshop judgement, and see what Ryerson was like, and the ways it shaped my experience as a student.

I began this part-nostalgia, part-investigative hunt for change at my original stomping grounds: Pitman Hall. My little slice of overpriced independence. General observations are as follows: cafeteria art — unchanged; elevator — still suspect; food selection — better despite the fact that Extreme Pita is no longer in the mix. While I was at it, I figured I’d visit another place whose changes were overshadowed by bigger campus projects. The International Living and Learning Centre renovated their cafeteria a couple years ago, and while I will miss the garden themed café and quasi dance studio eating space, I do appreciate the newer, cleaner first floor of the ILLC. Thanks to the new Ryerson Eats program, the food in the residencies and campus buildings are better than they have ever been. Custom panini sandwiches from the hub? Yes, please.

Between the SLC, School of Image Arts, and the Yonge Street heritage building, Gould Street has seen some major changes in a short period of time. If you were here six years ago, Gould Street would’ve been nothing more than a dirty construction zone lined with fences and pylons. Today it’s impossible to imagine the School of Image Arts without its façade of animated lights, or the SLC as a mere pit (seriously, where did anyone study before that place was finished?), but this tiny construction zone has quickly become the hub of campus life. With Gould now permanently designated as a pedestrian street (yes, we almost lost that at one point), we’re free to paint the roads however we choose, and host awesome street fairs.

Although much has changed at Ryerson in the past six years, there will always be the constants. Like wondering who the hell lives in O’Keefe House, or getting annoyed every time you see a Ryerson engineering sticker off campus. If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that Ryerson moves quickly. I speak as though six years is a long time, but it’s really not. Our campus has evolved and expanded in such a short period of time because the students and faculty who make up this university want us to grow, want us to be better. As Ryerson shifts and develops, we strengthen the experiences of the students at present and the legacies of graduated ones. It is my hope that I won’t recognize Ryerson in another six years, because I’ll know that my Rams are still dedicated to making their mark.