By Philippe Devos
For a commuter school, Ryerson is sure making it hard for students to get here.
Students who drive have to leave home hours earlier to get a parking space near campus and then pay exorbitant rates for the spot. Students taking the TTC pay full fare because RyeSAC still hasn’t figured out how to get a discounted rate like students at York once had. Students who walk to school have to dodge cars, trucks, film crews and construction equipment to get to class, and students who cycle have few safe spots to park their bikes.
There are suitable places to lock a bike near the Rogers Communications Centre and at the Gerrard Street entrance to the quad, but like the parking spots, there are too few. The other racks around campus only allow cyclists to lock the front wheel, leaving the rest vulnerable to thieves.
The railings along Jorgenson Hall are packed ever since Ian Hamilton, Ryerson’s director of campus planning and facilities, ordered wire mesh be affixed at the south end. Someone using the wheelchair ramp had nearly lost an eye to the handlebars of a bike locked there.
But, fixing one potential problem it seems, has made a real problem even worse.
Students who don’t want their bikes stolen have taken to locking them to railings, trees, lampposts and security beacons in the quad. Until last week, that is, when Hamilton decided to enforce a poorly publicized rule for bidding bikes from the quad and ordered maintenance staff to cut off locks and hand the bikes over to security.
While Hamilton has helped make the commute more difficult, he’s also doing something to make things better. His office is behind the plan to close part of Gould Street to make it safer to pedestrians. And he’s promised he’ll contact the city to have more suitable bike locking sites established on campus. If that isn’t enough to accommodate cyclists, he says he’ll see to it that Ryerson provides adequate protection for locked bikes. “We don’t want to discourage cyclists,” he said.
Well, Mr. Hamilton, don’t let me and the other cyclists of Ryerson down.
While you’re busy making the campus better, here are a few other things you could work on (and I won’t even harp on the escalators).
Many students wouldn’t have to commute if there was adequate housing on campus. Ryerson has one resident space for every 12 students. The University of Toronto, another downtown campus, has one residence space fore every six students a spot guaranteed to all first-year students.
Granted, about a hundred are living at a hotel not far from here but at least they have a roof over their heads. Ryerson students who didn’t get one of the coveted residence spots can share a bed with the bugs at Neill-Wycik Co-Operative College or fight for the remaining one percent of vacant spots in this city.
The old McGill Club building on McGill Street, which would have made a great student residence, has been under power of sale by the bank for two years. The university has missed its chance, however, as the property sold for cheap to Covenant House, which will use the former upscale women’s club to house homeless youth.
Even if you have a roof over your head, it doesn’t mean you’ll stay dry at Ryerson. During last Wednesday’s heavy rain, the roof of Kerr Hall leaked, dripping water onto students. Learning in those stuffy rooms is bad enough without having to endure Chinese water torture.
While Ryerson students, staff and faculty have exclusive rights to purchase eight-month or year-long parking permits for more than $100 a month, students who didn’t snag one of the few permits have to pay the same rate as any motorist. And, even though Ryerson owns the parking lot at Church and Gould streets, the land is rented to a private parking company that doesn’t offer students any special deals. Why doesn’t Ryerson operate the lot itself and offer students a discount?
Before Ryerson can even begin to address the lack of space on campus by acquiring or constructing new buildings, the university should get the facilities it already owns into shape.
Although Ryerson’s new chief development officer, Gordon Cressy, is on a mission to bring more money to Ryerson through fundraising, he told Ryerson’s board of governors that donors don’t want to pay for mundane things like having pipes fixed. But that’s exactly what Ryerson needs.