THE STENCH OF FIRST YEAR

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By Shannon Higgins

As a rule, first-years can’t hold their liquor.

That explains why yellow vomit, putrid and chunky, was sloshed across the elevator floor one Sunday morning.

So when I dragged myself to the gym in my eternal battle against the freshman bulge, I was forced to ride in an elevator full of the stench of stinky bile. I returned to the same elevator two hours later. By then, the stench had intensified and the vomit had taken on a yolky quality. It wasn’t cleaned up until dinner.

This is a prime example of the joys and jostles of first year. Along with newfound freedom comes the responsibility to take care of yourself. The safety net that is mommy and daddy isn’t there to break your fall (which will inevitably happen when stumbling back to rez drunk).

A group of us first-year rez kids gathered for a “bitch fest” where we shared pizza and vented our repressed anger about all the problems that come from being responsible for ourselves.

For those who live in residence, the list was vast.

Stinky heaters and ancient vacuums. The security guard falling asleep at night and leaving you stranded outside. No guests allowed during exam period. Those obnoxious neighbours who blare music at 3 a.m. People peeing in the hallway. Dramatic sex lives, known as “rez-cest,” creating major floor drama. Mould growing in the common room fridge.

Those who lived off campus named commuting and making friends as their biggest freshman foe. “The subway gives me a headache everyday,” said Lia Silvestrone, a first-year child and youth care student. She had trouble meeting people because most first-years from her classes live in rez.

Another source of angst was food. Besides the obvious repulsive and artery clogging nature of cafeteria food, people who live in Pitman Hall or the International Living Learning Centre (ILLC) must buy the meal plan if they want to live in rez. Any money left in the plan at the end of the year won’t be refunded or carried over to next year. And on the weekends only one cafeteria (with a very limited menu) is open to feed the 800 students who live in residence.

“They could alternate their fucking menu,” suggests Alissa Laporte, a first-year architecture student.

Mike Johnson, a first-year business student, also feels there’s a lack of choice. “They have a monopoly over food service and they suck,” he says.

Extra fees for supplies also plague students like Laporte, who didn’t realize an extra $80 would be added to her budget each month. She is also fed up with administration giving her the runaround. “They give you attitude and talk to you like you’re stupid,” she says.

Some professors have a special way of making you feel incompetent, says Brianne Price, an image arts student. In one of her classes, the harsh and subjective marking style makes her upset. “He (the professor) says the marks don’t matter,” says Price. “Well they do to me.”

Katie Carroll says she was ill prepared for the heavy workload and the stress it causes. She hates it when professors don’t post their notes online. The child and youth care student likes how the postings help clarify complicated points that profs sometimes skim over.

The group agreed that the promise of hands-on learning drew them to Ryerson. They also agreed that industry professionals, coming straight from the job were incredible editors, fashion designers and architects but were terrible instructors.

But alas, as much as you hate it, enjoy it while you can. Soon you will be juggling an even heavier workload and stressing over meeting monthly rent as your school budget slowly declines to the zeroes. After that, you’re headed to a place where attendance is not optional.

It’s called a job.

But for now first-years will be sticking it out until they get to their second. And I’ll be bringing a can of air freshner with me in the elevator.

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