By Philippe Devos
If it weren’t for the hordes of people million about, Ryerson’s campus would look abandoned.
Garbage floats on Lake Devo and graffiti covers the rocks. Broken tables and chairs litter the campus. More trash and recycling waits for pickup on the corner of Gould and Church streets.
As I walked the campus in the early hours last Monday morning, the university looked derelict without students to dressup the landscape.
In an effort to keep cyclists from locking their bikes there, Ryerson maintenance staff have screwed wire mesh to the railings at Jorgenson Hall’s south entrance. Barely three weeks old, the mesh is already rusted and dented. Coupled with Jorgenson’s concrete design, the university’s busiest entrance now has the look of an aging penitentiary. Just outside the entrance, derelict tables and chairs are stacked randomly against the wall.
Lake Devo looks more like a cesspool than the northern pond it was modelled after, with water-logged trash below the surface and fresh garbage floating on top. Although graffiti drawn by engineering and business students has been on the rocks for more than a year, no one’s bothered to sandblast the stone clean.
A little down the way at the corner of Church and Gould streets, the centre of campus, much of the university’s garbage and recycling sits in the unattractive bins drawing flies.
A peek inside the campus buildings offers an even bigger eyesore. More neglected furniture lurks in the hallways as does more garbage. I don’t blame the custodial staff because I see them working hard. There must not be enough of them to keep up.
And the escalators. In five years at Ryerson, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve made it up all four floors without having to walk up at least one flight.
Although crews spent all summer overhauling the 26-year-old contraptions, there’s still always one shut down and the others leak oil as they struggle along.
Ryerson attempted to improve the aesthetics on campus over the summer. New floodlights illuminate the outside walls of Kerr Hall, but frankly, it looks better in the dark.
If Ryerson wishes to be the university of the future, it had better start making plans to look the part. Couldn’t someone be paid to fish litter out of Lake Devo each morning? Couldn’t unused furniture be stored in one of the vacant buildings on campus instead of in the halls? Is there no out-of-the-way place to keep the dumpsters?
Couldn’t all the escalators be made to travel up so the likelihood of one set working would be greater? Students could learn (we’re here to learn after all) to take the nearby stairs to get back down.
Right now, our unsightly campus blends into the drab neighbourhood. But soon, when renovations to the Merchandise Building are finished and the Yonge-Dundas redevelopment — with its gleaming new square and 21st-century architecture — is complete, this university is going to look like the land that time forgot.