By Dominique Blain
Nearly a year after the university’s administration said it had a policy banning events in the Metro Credit Union Lounge, it now says that policy never existed.
Last November, Marion Creery, director of student services, interrupted a forum in the lounge organized by the Arab Student Association and cited a new policy that prohibited any event with speakers in the area.
The lounge is near the Hub cafeteria on the first floor of the Podium building. The ASA’s forum was about Palestinian Human Rights, and was advertised on campus with posters comparing the death tolls of Israelis and Palestinians.
The crowd asked to see the policy, but it was never produced. Now it appears the reason Creery could not show the policy is because there never was one.
“There’s never been any policy like that,” Creery said. “[The ASA’s forum] was a special event.” Though there was no written policy, the university still refused to let groups into the area for almost a year.
On Friday, after months of negotiations between RyeSAC, CESAR and the university, an agreement was struck on the use of the lounge. Linda Grayson, vice president administration and student affairs, said the new agreement needed signatures by RyeSAC President Dave MacLean, among others, before it could be published.
Creery said the space had been closed “for the time being, because we didn’t have an agreement” on the use of the lounge and the deal was necessary to “protect the university.” Grayson added the guidelines were an example of how Ryerson needed to “take actions which mitigate those risks should the unthinkable happen.”
Cristina Ribeiro, RyeSAC vice president student life and events, said RyeSAC “worked hard over the summer” to come to the current agreement with the university. Ribeiro said the policy details what types of events can be held in the lounge. Any event that could be deemed offensive by anyone on campus has to be held in a closed room.
Last year, the ASA event continued despite opposition from Creery. Audience members pointed out that a poster sale had taken place two weeks before their forum with no mention of safety.
“No one is going to use this space. That you can be assured of,” Creery said at the time. According to Grayson, the event was closed because Julia Lewis, head of health and safety at Ryerson, said the traffic that would ensue constituted a fire hazard.
She added Lewis told this to administrators, instead of writing a report. “There was no policy or guidelines in place – it was common sense” that lead Ryerson to close the lounge, Grayson said. Two months after the forum, the Imaginus poster sale cancelled their visit to campus. For nearly 30 years the company had set up in the Metro Credit Union Lounge.
Imaginus was told one week before its visit that the space wasn’t available because of construction on the library building escalators. Creery then said that the show created a fire hazard.