By Katie Mercer
Half of the student groups at Ryerson are homeless, but $5,000 is going to buy one of them a new home in the Student Campus Centre.
An additional student group will be able to set up camp in the basement of the SCC, thanks to an office vacated by Leatrice O’Neill, Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) campus groups administrator earlier this year.
Chris Drew, RSU VP finance and services, says that the RSU will be dishing out cash from its operating budget to make the place livable. “The Board renovation costs are going to be up to $5,000, but we think that it’ll probably be less than that,” Drew said.
The empty office space was originally created for student groups, but Drew said that the 2004/2005 student executive renovated it to suit administrative needs.
“They ripped out the millwork and office furniture, but they didn’t do a very good job of it,” Drew said.
Now the RSU has to repair the damage before they can let a student group move into the space.
“It’s basically just like renovating a home,” he said. “We have to patch up the drywall, paint the walls, deal with the millwork and buy the furniture so that it’s identical to any of the other 23 student group offices,” Drew said.
While more than 60 student groups are officially registered by the RSU, only 23 are given office space in the basement of the SCC.
For groups that weren’t lucky enough to land an office this year, a newly renovated office space means that they will be able to co-ordinate their events and functions on campus – if they can get their application to the RSU by March 31 and are deemed by the student group committee to be deserving of a space.
Isha Pall, a member of the Sikh Students’ Association, said they are hoping they will be one of the lucky groups to get an office next year.
“We really do have to get an office space this year because of all of the events we have going on,” Pall said.
Each year, groups that currently have an office have to re-apply for it.
Larger, active groups on campus aren’t concerned that their student group office applications to the RSU will cause them to lose their space.
Khang Nguyen, the web administrator for the West Indian Students’ Association, says that his group isn’t that worried about the prospects of losing their office next year.
“We’re pretty sure our group meets some of the criteria, like need and impact on the campus. We’re a large organization and we have a lot of events and things going on during the year,” Nguyen said.
And Abe Snobar, VP-elect student life and events, agrees Ryerson’s larger student groups don’t have much to worry about.
“All student groups have to submit an application form for an office space. Then we are going to decide which group deserves it most and we try to accommodate them accordingly,” Snobar said.
“But the groups that are big and active on campus are more than likely going to get to keep their office.”
Once the student group committee makes its decisions, it’s final. The only way a student group can get a space is if another one happens to open up — and they’re at the top of the “worthy” student group list.
Drew says that the issue of cramped living conditions isn’t something that’s going to go away.
The only way to accommodate all of the groups is to expand the SCC — which has the capacity, but not the funding, to add another two floors on top.
“Student leaders at a future date may want to expand and Ryerson has a lot of student groups and they are very active,” he said. “There’s not much space at Ryerson so the only place to go is up.”