By Erin Rankin
Poor academic performance is emptying residences, according to Ryerson’s housing manager.
“If you want to compare to last year, it’s not normal,” said Philip Lim, referring to the amount of vacant rooms in residence.
Currently, Pitman Hall has 12 rooms for rent, while the ILLC has four spots open to anyone who doesn’t want to commute to campus.
Lim said it is not the cost or the unusually soft rental market that has caused the high vacancy rate, rather rooms are available because several first-year students weren’t making the grade.
“Students were asked to leave because they were failing,” says Lucy Jakupi Ryerson’s campus life facilitator. “I guess the administration figures, ‘why waste a student’s money?’”
At Ryerson, students can be suspended for: having a GPA of less than 1.0; failing three or more classes; not fulfilling requirements while on academic probation or failing to complete a program within its maximum time limit. The suspension policy applies to students in all years.
Registrar Keith Alnwick said he doesn’t think the suspension rate is significant at Ryerson.
“I can confirm that the percentage of students suspended each December is typically two per cent or three per cent and the fall 2003 figures are consistent with this trend,” he said.
However, Ryerson’s suspension numbers are twice those of York University and the University of Toronto. This could be due to the fact that Ryerson’s city rivals don’t suspend first-year students until they have completed at least one full year.
“I can’t believe any university would suspend a first-year student after only one term,” says Celine Ariraratnam, residence-life coordinator at U of T’s Scarborough campus.
There are no plans for Ryerson to change its suspension policy regarding first-years.
“That’s [U of T and York’s] take on suspension, but we’ve never considered it,” said Diane Schulman, secretary of the academic council.
Ryerson President Claude Lajeunesse was shocked to hear that some residence staff members were claiming suspensions have increased.
“Go back to them and tell them that they don’t know what they are talking about,” said Lajeunesse. “I’m not sure where these comments are coming from, but they certainly don’t correspond to reality.”
Like all good leaders — Lajeunesse is right.
Although Ryerson has 627 more first-year students than last year, the student retention rate has risen by 67 per cent.
So why all the room in residence? Jakupi says it’s not due to typical rowdy behaviour.
“It’s very rare that rooms become available because of evictions,” said Jakupi. “This year, students have been especially well-behaved. I get the odd noise complaint, but that’s about it.”
According to Ariraratnam, U of T also has an unusually high number of rooms available.
“Living arrangements weren’t working out for a number of first-year students. They were having a hard time adjusting to campus life,” she said.
– With files from Joel Wass