By Eva Tam, Online Editor
The Ryerson Students’ Union has won part of its battle with the university over the Student Campus Centre — it has been granted control of the building’s front desk, a crucial step in a year-long battle for control of the new building.
Beginning September 5, staff members from RSU and the Continuing Education Students’ Association at Ryerson (CESAR) will work at the building’s front desk.
“We’ve been fighting for (this) for more than a year now. That is what we wanted and we are happy that we are starting to get the space next week,” said new RSU President Muhammad-Ali Jabbar.
The fight began a year ago when the RSU and CESAR decided to take back control of the building, saying the student centre should be exclusively student run. Both the Palin Foundation and the Ryerson Centre, who had been operating the SCC, were suddenly left out in the cold.
Ron Stagg is the chair of the Palin Foundation. He believes there are negative consequences to the change at the front desk.
“The main drawback is that the sense of everyone being in the project together, which was behind the whole plan from the beginning, and pervaded all stages of the project for over 10 years, is being eroded by RSU’s and CESAR’s belief that the Centre should be exclusively run by them,” said Stagg in an e-mail.
But Jabbar disagrees.
“I’m just looking forward to a good year for the students’ comeback,” he said. “They can (now) get the TTC metropass and all the (services) RSU can provide for them at the front desk. It will be more student-friendly because it is run for the students, by the students.”
During discussions, the Palin Foundation and the Ryerson Centre had planned to give the main desk to RSU and CESAR and to extend the desk to assist SCC operations. Stagg said the RSU and CESAR are still trying to get more control over the building’s management commitees.
Last fall, the Save Student Space campaign was launched by the RSU. It urged the university to give control of the building to the students’ unions.
“That’s what the fight is and the fight is still going on,” Jabbar said. “We just have to move forward on it.“
Last year’s RSU president Rebecca Rose fought for control of the SCC. While part of the goal was acheived under Jabbar’s reign, he does not believe the change in leadership had anything to do with the result.
“We were consistent in our argument and we gave them deadlines,” Jabbar explained.
“We were supposed to have the agreement signed before Rebecca (Rose) left and that did not happen, so we just continued the fight,” said Jabbar. “We told them this is what we need; this is for the students.”
With the change, students won’t have to line up in the SCC basement for TTC metropasses. Also, other RSU and CESAR services will now be available on the main floor.
Jabbar is surprised by the decision, which he said is a win for students.
“We had a meeting last week and they said, ‘You can move in now,’” he said. “We’ve been fighting for a long time,” Jabbar said. “Why couldn’t they do this a year earlier when it would have only taken a week to set it up?”
The front desk was previously staffed by employees of the SCC.
In mid-August, Ryerson president Sheldon Levy asked Stagg to find a way to give the student unions control of the front desk.
No current employees at the SCC front desk will be asked to leave.
“As far as I know, we’re not going to be doing any layoffs,” said Sarah Barry, the SCC’s conference and customer services manager.
Jabbar said five more students will be hired to work at the desk.