One option Ryerson has for a faculty club is to buy the McGill Club at 21 McGill St. for $2 million. PHOTO: JONATHAN BJERG MOLLER

Faculty wants lounge on par with other universities

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By Karina Roman 

Ryerson’s faculty and staff dining lounge is a dim, windowless room at the south end of the Hub in Jorgenson Hall.  The square, no-nonsense lounge is a place for staff and faculty to eat and meet.  The room has no food service, and has only round tables surrounded by maroon chairs.  A stack of chairs and tables clutters one corner.

The lounge’s lack of ambiance has many faculty and staff craving a shiny new staff dining lounge, like the one at the University of Toronto.

U of T faculty gather at their 38-year-old club at 41 Wilcocks St., in the Harbord Street-Spadina Avenue area.  The three-floor club has a pub and several dining rooms and lounges.  Adorning the walls is a collection of art by the Group of Seven.

Michael Doucet, president of the Ryerson Faculty Association (RFA), says the faculty and staff dining lounge in the Hub is not welcoming.  “It’s an absolutely miserable space.”

Some departments have their own lounges, but Doucet says Ryerson needs a place where all faculty members can mix and mingle.  Faculty want a place where they can bring guests to discuss business, research and jobs for students.

The idea of faculty club has been around ever since the faculty and staff were kicked out of The Commons, which was used as their dining lounge and is now used for meetings.  The RFA even has $62,000 in membership dues saved for a lounge.  Members pay $35 to $50 in dues a month depending on income.

Although RFA members voted twice in the past several years against having a faculty club, the idea has been resurrected, this time by architecture professor Maurice Lerman.

He says Ryerson is a university, so it has to act like one.  “We are probably the only university that doesn’t have that type of amenity.”

Several options are open to faculty.  Since the student campus centre will clear space in other areas of the campus once it’s built and services are moved in, Doucet says that’s the best hope for a faculty lounge.

But Lerman has higher ambitions.  He wants Ryerson to snap up the McGill Club, the former women’s club and athletic facility, on 21 McGill St.  It’s selling for $2 million.  Lerman says Ryerson would never be able to find or build something like it for that price.

Wherever the faculty club is housed, the RFA’s faculty club reserve fund of $62,000 would be put towards running it, and membership fees may have to increase to up to $100 more a month, Doucet says.

Membership could include staff and administration, which would bring it to 1,000 people, Lerman says.  Alumni membership would also be welcome.

At U of T, faculty, staff and alumni make up the faculty club’s 3,200 members; each pays on average $300 fees a year.

Even if Ryerson faculty members disagree about having an exclusive club, Doucet says all of them want an improvement.  “We don’t expect the U of T faculty club, but we deserve better than we have.”

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