Ryerson residences: one year and out?

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By Caroline Pelletier

Ryerson administration is considering shutting out upper-year students from residences as of next year.

“As the demand for Ryerson grows and as first-year students come from further away, the university recognizes that first-year students have the most need for residences,” says Liza Nassim, manager of Ryerson’s three residences.

She says it’s nice to offer first-year students a transitional space to help them make their adjustments to Toronto and to Ryerson.

“By the time someone’s gone through a year in residence,” Nassim says. “They obviously are more familiar with Toronto and good at making their way around.”

Right now, about 180 of the 840 spots in residences are occupied by upper-year students. Under the plan being considered, the only upper-year spots that would be kept are those for students who help to run the residences, such as floor presidents.

There were 150 students on the waiting list for a spot in residence last July, 50 of whom were upper-year students.

“We have three floors in the ILLC [International Living/Learning Centre] that are currently reserved for upper-year students. There is discussion going on if we’re going to be changing them to accept more first-year students,” says Nassim.

The demand for spaces from upper-year students has been low, says Nassim, because many of them know the residences primarily accept first-year students.

Steve Van Hassel doesn’t agree with the decision to exclude upper-year students from residences. The first-year business student, who lives in residence at Ryerson, says first-year students benefit from living with people of different ages.

“If you have any questions, basically you can go talk to them, he says. “Older people have probably been through more.”

For Brian Paterson, a first-year theatre acting student, residence was a lifesaver. “I came out here from B.C. so it’s a huge things that I was able to get into residence,” he says.

“It would be very easy for me to come here and stay in my shell if I didn’t live on campus. Being in residence, it’s exposed me to a lot of people in my program,” he says.

Fourth-year journalism student Jocelyn Sweet had an experience similar to Paterson’s: “I was an out-of-province student my first year and I would have been completely lost if I hadn’t been in residence,” says the Halifax native.

“I think a year in residence gives you a lot of opportunities to make connections, to get a network set up for yourself, to get a roommate and to find housing in Toronto,” she says.

Sweet is a floor president at Pitman, and understands the demands the university is facing. “I think with the double cohort they’re going to need to prioritize,” she says. She thinks priority should go to first-year students.

The double cohort, made up of grade 12 and OAC students set to graduate simultaneously next spring, will hit Ryerson next September. But Nassim isn’t sure if it will create a much greater demand for on-campus housing, or even how many more students Ryerson will decide to accept.

But whatever that number, Nassim says, “It’ll depend on the demographics of that number. If they accepted 500 more, a lot of those 500 are going to be from the GTA. So it depends on what the demographics are of those people.”

Nassim estimates a final decision on the matter will be made in the next couple of weeks.

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