Illustration: Valentine De Landro

The Better Way

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By Melanie D. Marshall

Ryerson’s 50th anniversary is upon us.  This solemn occasion demands that I ask: What makes Ryerson special?  The scenic urban locale?  The colourful personalities (Ernie, Eggy, Ed the Wino)?  That strong school spirit I feel when I walk across campus?  (Of course I’m walking across U of T’s campus).

No.  It’s the knowledge that as surely as tuition continues to rise, each year some intrepid reporter will discover that the escalators break down.  A lot.  Like Ol’ Faithful or the cat, the story comes back.

Some eager newshound investigates.  They stare, unblinking at the stalled escalator for minutes.  They hound Physical Plant for answers.  They ask the tough questions like “How did losing the escalator make you feel?”

Escalator Facts: The escalators were installed when the Library Building was built in 1973.  For 25 years, the same company, Montgomery KONE, has maintained them (Hmmm…).  They are in the last year of the current contract, which costs us $60,000 a year.  Ian Hamilton, of Physical Plant, says the new contract will include reliability indicators.  Translation:  If it breaks too often, we don’t pay.

How to tell if the escalator is broken (or soon will be):  1) There is a loud squeaking sound.  2) There is a smell of burning rubber.  3) A fellow student is screaming “Dear God, Nooo…” with one arm caught in the works.  4) It’s not moving.

Tell me Pappy, why does it break?  According to Peter Callis, of Physical Plant, the escalators break down for three reasons: 1) Naughty students stop the escalator with their spirited hijinks.  2) It’s not broken.  It’s undergoing monthly maintenance.  3)  “Escalators are mechanical contraptions.  Things break.”

Is it really that bad?  Hamilton says students think the escalators are rarely working because “The escalator design is such that it is not spanned or straddled by a staircase.”  Translation:  Put our escalators next to the stairs, and they seem like hotroddin’ dream machines.  Callis and Hamilton guessed that there are five unscheduled stops a month.  They say it would be too time-consuming to confirm that number.

Who cares?  Hey, if it keep breaking, why keep it?  I suggest that for this birthday, they should give us the gift of escalator alternatives.  To show my enthusiasm, I’ve included a few modest proposals.


Snakes and ladders 

It’s just like the game kids.  Instead of boring escalators, we could climb 60 foot industrial ladders.  You want to come back down?  No Problem.  There’s a 23 foot reticulated boa (the world’s largest landsnake) at your service.

Cost:  Bob Johnson curates the Reptile and Amphibian exhibit at the Toronto Zoo.  He says we could get us some giant snakes for $3,000-$15,000 (US).  We’d also have to buy 4 guinea pigs per snake each week.  At $5 a pop, that’s about $60-$100/week.  We could save money by not feeding them when school’s out, but that might lead to lower than expected frosh turnout.

Marty McGale of McGale’s ladders could sell us industrial ladders for $900 each.  (I’m not sure he will though.  He doubted the wisdom of this plan.  “You’d have to climb them, y’know.”)

Pro: Better view of fellow student’s posteriors.

Cons: Cafeteria Special: Bean pie — or — enjoying the view, next stop: Harassment office.

Pro: We’ll be official Giant Snake owners.  Suck on that, U of T.

Tourists will come to see our Giant Snakes, bringing lovely cash.  As a result, Ryerson will greenlight Gator-world, a different kind of used bookstore.

Con: In the wild, Reticulated Boas feast on pigs and deer, or anything else smaller than itself.  The temptation to snag a student between meals may be too great.  We’ll need a sign.  No one under five feet may ride this snake.  The kids from Early Childhood Education will have to avoid the library and any students of smaller stature may want to consider platforms.


Bungee Jump 

Wheeeee!!!!!  If you want a thrill, don’t go to Wonderland.  Tie some stretchy cord to yourself, and fly like a bird.  Getting to class will never be so life threatening.  (Unless it’s Monday morning, you have a hangover, a crackhead is pointing a gun at you, and you have to Bungee jump.  Then, maybe.)

No, I’m no expert, so I made the facts up. Actually, I called the Great Canadian Bungee Company.  Owners Alex Lawrence and his brother, Matt Lawrence also do Bungee consulting.  Of course, their company accidentally spun a girl into a rock a while back, but no one’s perfect (first accident in seven years).  They helped fill the vision.

Cost:  Initially, we’ll have to pay about $100,000.  Alex Lawrence says that’s about $50,000 for the equipment, and $50,000 in consultant fees.  That advice could include things like: “Tighten that bolt, but never promise they won’t be maimed,” and “Hey, that piece shouldn’t be left over.”

Pro:  Demand for jumpmasters creates new Work-study program jobs.  Jumpmaster sounds a lot cooler than Pitman Burgermaster or Events Clean-upmaster.

Con:  Bitter OSAP Jumpmasters may not take proper safety measures with certain groups.  (Financial Aid, students whose parents pay their tuition, The Administration).

Pro: Adrenaline rush from Bungee Jumping counteracts annual depression after the McLean’s University Survey is released.




Yeah, we’ve got problems at ole Rye High.  We don’t like to walk.  There’s a shortage of things you’d want to cuddle.  Our campus stinks.  Why not solve all these problems at once?  Just ride a stinky, cuddly animal around to class.  Burros are surefooted, they can navigate stairs, ramps and lineups at Fees/registration.

Cost:  The paltry some of $500.  Of course, this was a used burro.  Times are tough.  We need fancy, new burros like we need an expensive student center.  A simple, peasant burro will do nicely.  As for food: a little hay, a little water.  Burros are easier to raise than sea monkeys.

Pro:  No need for RyeSAC executive to go on student-funded jaunt to the Grand Canyon.

Con:  Like the escalators, burros are slow and may suddenly stop for no reason at all.

Pro:  Instead of staying on the 14th floor, these asses will travel.

Con:  How many Eggys met a natural end?  Ask yourself:  Could it happen again?


Stacks and Stacks of our tuition money

Politicians and University Administrators always tell us our money builds Ryerson.  Maybe, student concerns about high tuition will evaporate if we actually do build the university.

Cost:  Boy, everyone’s got an answer for this one.  Match the answers with the speaker.

1) “They spend it on beer anyways.  Oops, wrong speech, that’s for welfare moms.  Uh-hmm…  A willingness on the part of post-secondary students to pay for their fair share of an education.” 2) “A reasonable amount with reasonable increases, in classrooms brough to you by the CIBC.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a plane to catch.”  3)  “Our ignorance of the oppressive forces which keep us isolated … zzz … hey, want to buy a paper.”  4) “We won’t stand for it.  Hey, look over there … we’ve got Calvin Klein and sumo suits.”

Pro:  Tuition is on the way up.  The computer labs are in shambles, greater financial assistance remains elusive.  They might as well use it for something.

Con:  With deregulation, steps may be too high for most Ryerson students to reach.

Pro:  In order to keep an on our (his) money, President Lajeunesse will become more accessible to students.  His tuition-side chats will be the stuff of legend.  As will his new nickname: Shotgun Lajeunesse (“You darn kids keep your hands off my money.”)

Con:  In order to keep an eye on our (his) money, President Lajeunesse will become more accessible to students.

His tuition side chats will be the stuff of legend.  He will get a piercing and love The HipIs there anything sadder than an aging man holding a death grip on his (our) youth.

Note: The article was first published as part of the Ryerson’s 50th anniversary special in The Eyeopener.

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