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Master Plan: Barely there

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By Lauren Strapagiel

It’s been over five-and-a-half years since Ryerson President Sheldon Levy first stood in front of the Canadian Club and revealed his Master Plan. Towering, modern glass buildings jutted from where Sam the Record Man, Kerr Hall and the Image Arts Building stood and the streets that run through our campus were lushly green and teeming with pedestrian comforts.

It was the plan that would put Ryerson on the map as a legitimate post-secondary school (so long, Rye High) with the facilities and reputation to push us into the spotlight.

Now that it’s 2011, reality has been less than impressive. The renovated Image Arts building that was supposed to open last fall has taken three-and-a-half years to get to this weeks barely-open state. Only certain parts of the Skittle building will be accessible to students, the other rooms covered in dust, building materials and broken promises. The faculty offices are of course ready to go. Priorities.

Image Arts students who started at Ryerson three years ago will only get to use the new facilities for a semester and a half of their degree (and only part of the facilities). These are the students who have been paying full price to use makeshift darkrooms in Kerr Hall’s underbelly and cramped offices-turned-studios in the Victoria building. Paying $6,335.09 for subpar facilities just isn’t right.

As for the rest of the Master Plan, let’s take stock of the underwhelming accomplishments thus far.

The Student Learning Centre, originally dreamed as a slick, glass box rising above Yonge Street has turned into a bubbly monstrosity that appears to make no effort to fit into the Yonge Street landscape. And, if a certain angry letter is true, the SLC plans defy the desires of the local Business Improvement Area oraganization — the people who have to operate their businesses next to our glorified library.

Maple Leaf Gardens has been purchased in part with funds some of you never voted for and paid for by students who never had a choice. The completion date is supposed to be this spring. We’re not holding our breaths on that one.

As for pedestrianization, Gould Street has been decked out with shrubbery only to be invaded with machinery, dust and noise from the aforementioned somewhat-finished Image Arts building.

What happened, Ryerson?

The Master Plan was amibtious. It was everything it should have been and it’s still possible. There is time to make it right. Despite what’s been a disappointing start, the phrase “better late than never” comes to mind.

We’ve done wonders to improve our reputation in academia and industry. This next hurdle will push as firmly out of our spot as Toronto’s other other university.

As a past Eyeopener editor-in-chief said when the Master Plan was first born: don’t fuck this up. Ryerson’s students deserve nothing less.

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