By Shane Dingman
Mass Exodus organizers were given the best news they’ve had in weeks last Thursday when they were told they wouldn’t have to pay a rental fee for the use of the Ryerson Theatre.
V.p. administration and student affairs Linda Grayson met with three of the organizers of the show on March 15 to let them know money raised by Mass Exodus would not end up in the coffers of ancillary services.
Instead, the fashion school will pay $2,500 rental fee out of its operating budget.
“[Grayson] said that it was never meant to be paid for by students” said Becky Tomlinson, the third-year fashion marketing students who has been leading the charge to rescue this year’s show from financial ruin.
“She told us that she feels bad that so many students were enraged.”
May McCrae, director of the school of fashion, still argues the fee shouldn’t be imposed in the first place.
McCrae said Grayson is ignoring Ryerson policies that say space that is required to teach a course should be provided free of charge by the school.
“I do not think we should be charged,” McCrae said. “If the university demands it, I’ll take the cost out of my experiences—although I’m trying to work my way out of deficit as it is.”
McCrae said the students will have to fundraise the money for the fee on their own if the school insists on levying a charge for the use of the theatre space next year.
Tomlinson said the fashion school shouldn’t have to pay to use the theatre, as they consider it classroom space.
She’s worried the fee will force the show’s organizers to use other facilities in the future.
“The fashion industry is the third-largest employer in the city of Toronto, and [students] are still treated like this is a hobby,” Tomlinson said.
In past years, money left over from Mass Exodus was used to shore up the operating budget of the school—buying computers, a scanner, drafting tables and even chairs.
With the school now paying a rental fee out of its already strained budget, Tomlinson worries that whatever is left over from Mass Exodus won’t go as far as it has in the past.
“We’re still being treated differently than all the other schools,” says Tomlinson. “I’m only a quarter satisfied with the results so far.”
Peter Duck, faculty advisor for the show, said he has not been told how the fee will be administered.
But he said it is something that will now probably be worked out by administration and the school of fashion.
“I think at this point the students have had their say,” Duck said. “I think [administration] knows they can’t really just push us around.”
For her part, McCrae hopes to find a way for everyone in fashion to avoid the fee.
“I think Dr. Grayson’s position was, ‘It’s a way to make a lot of money and it won’t hurt anything,” says McCrae. “But it will hurt.”