By Jennifer Kwan
It’s 11:45 pm. On a Wednesday night and Darren Cooney swings open the door to The Barn nighclub. He climbs up a flight of stairs where a semipacked dance floor awaits him.
While the Church and Grandby Streets club isn’t quite hopping yet, RyeSAC’s v.p. student life and events doesn’t wait for droves of people to arrive. That’s why he’s the best guy to plan a party at Ryerson.
Within five minutes he’s got his sinewy arms wrapped around friends. He’s clutching a Vex lemonade and dancing alongside them with his navy blue Nike T-Shirt off and tucked into the back of his shorts.
Despite his penchant for partying, it didn’t take the 22-year-old journalism student, who claims he’s really an introvert, long to figure out h’s the right person to muster school spirit.
“I was standing up in font of this group of people and talking about Sex Fest,” Cooney says of campaigning for the spot in February. “I was turning red, I was sweating, and I realized I wouldn’t get to do this as v.p. finance.” This week, 840 students will pour into Ryerson’s three residences – Pitman Hall, International Living Learning Centre and O’Keefe House – a week later, roughly 14,000 full-time undergraduate students and 150 graduate students will show up for class.
As Cooney’s roughly $23,000 student orientation plan unravels this month, students will experience campus life the way it should be – full of student group events, music, pub nights, parades and picnics.
They’ll get a chance to bask in the sun at Oakham House’s daily BBQs, listen to live bands like Scarlet O’Hara or attend Ryerson’s 44th annual parade and picnic on Centre Island while listening to main act Denko Jones, alongside DJ Baby Yu and The Mudmen.
RyeSAC president Odelia Bay says the social aspect of student organization is just as important as the academic. This year, with Cooney at the helm, students will see more integration of both. “You never know what to expect from Darren,” Bay says. “But it’s hard work and he takes it seriously. He really understands what it means to put the educational aspect into events.”
Last year’s campus spirit started off strong when Prince Fesasi held the same post, which was then called v.p. administration, but school spirit seemed to teeter off throughout the year.
Dawn Murray, who works closely with Cooney as program and campaigns coordinator, says the resignation of a staff last December put a strain on resources.
With a team of planners, revelers can look forward to a year of socializing, eve trying new things like Improv Nights at the pub or celebrating Valentine’s Day in fetish gear.
Cooney hopes students will appreciate his kind of school spirit. “I have a lot of different sides to me and they all come together. One night you’ll find me at a gay bar dancing with my shirt off, then at an NDP party and then out with the engineers,” he says. “I hope they see I’m a diverse person and there’s a lot to me.”