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By Sheila Nykwist

The waiting list is long. Yet for students unable to snag a spot in one of Ryerson’s residences this year, there is another place to turn. The University of Toronto has a surplus of rooms, giving Ryerson students a second chance to try residence life.

“This is a good situation,” says Jonathon Plashkes, a first-year Radio and Television Arts student staying at U of T’s 89 Chestnut St. residence. “I get to live with a bunch of students, eat here… this is a lot easier.”

Although finding a room off campus may have been cheaper, Plashkes thinks living at U of T is worth it. Rooms in the former hotel start at $9,000 per school year and include a weekly room-cleaning service and restaurant-quality meals. “The food is amazing,” Plashkes says.

The old Colony Hotel, purchased by U of T in preparation for the double cohort, brought the total spaces in U of T’s residences to approximately 6,000. Rooms have been open to non-U of T students since last year.

Pearl Karimalis, director of student housing services at U of T, says the increased availability of off-campus housing in the last couple of years has left some residence rooms empty. “The demand did go down,” says Karimalis. “Other years we had so much demand we were housing [students] in hotels.”

Not now. Now that the double-cohort wave has settled, U of T is inviting students from other universities such as Ryerson, George Brown College and the Ontario College of Art and Design to live at their campus.

Philip Lim, the housing manager at Ryerson, noticed brochures advertising U of T residences in the office since July. U of T residences were also listed on Ryerson’s off-campus housing registry.

With rooms to spare, U of T has no problem meeting its guarantee of housing for all first-year students. Ryerson, however, has an average of 150 to 200 students on its waiting list every fall.

According to Lim, that kind of accommodation just isn’t a possibility at Ryerson. “There is no way we can do that,” he says, noting just 840 spaces are available in Ryerson’s three residences.

Located just a few blocks from Ryerson, U of T’s residences seem to draw a lot of interest says Jeff Brown, a don at the Chestnut Street residence. “We were expecting a lot more students from Ryerson,” says Brown, who also happens to attend Ryerson.

However, the high cost of the residence may be keeping students away, he says. Only 10 Ryerson students currently reside at 89 Chestnut. Brown is making sure those students don’t feel out of place on U of T’s campus.

He’s even ordered a weekly delivery of The Eyeopener. “We wanted to make sure that they’re not feeling isolated – that they’re part of the community,” he said.

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