After an investigation by Ryerson security and Toronto Police, individuals were found to be dealing drugs in the Dungeon. News Editor Carolyn Turgeon looks into the shady history of the engineering lounge hidden in the Kerr Hall basement
An undercover drug bust resulted in four police arrests on campus last Thursday.
Toronto Police 51 Division sent officers dressed as students to investigate previously reported drug deals in the Rye-O-Mat, located in the Kerr Hall North basement.
“We received complaints regarding drug dealing going on in that [area] at Ryerson,” said Detective Constable Preston Scott. “We initiated an investigation and it resulted in four arrests.”
The police cannot reveal if the arrested individuals were students or any other additional information as of yet, in case the charges take the accused to court.
The area, more commonly known as the Dungeon, is a lounge for engineering students which is only supervised by Ryerson security’s patrols.
Ryerson media relations manager Micheal Forbes revealed that security had received complaints about activities of this nature around campus, including the Dungeon.
“Security undertook a number of measures including identifying people apparently engaged in illegal activity,” said Forbes.
He said security passed on the results of their investigation to the police and the issue then became a division police matter. He said the university cannot comment on security’s role in the investigation as it is ongoing.
The cause of the investigations did not come as a surprise to Derek Stanley, a second-year aerospace engineer, who hasn’t noticed any dealers since the bust.
“We’ve actually asked the group to leave before,” he said. “It’s a study space, there’s no need for that.”
Stanley spends time studying in the Dungeon along with many other students, and is no stranger to witnessing drug deals.
“I’ve seen them dealing and security would come through [on patrols],” said Stanley.
He explained that he didn’t think they usually noticed and that there is only one closed circuit camera which doesn’t show the entire room.
“A couple more cameras installed would help,” he said. Stanley believes the appearance of dealers in the Dungeon is a change from last year, when they remained above ground.
“Oftentimes they used to just smoke weed upstairs outside the door [to Kerr Hall],” he said, adding that you could smell it as you passed. “It’s just this year that they started dealing.”
Xerxes Engineer, a third-year computer engineering student, disagreed with Stanley’s assessment.
“They’ve always been down here, since 2008 [when I started],” he said.
He does agree that it’s not the place for that kind of activity, especially when the dealers had been kicked out by security many times previously.
There are now signs on a bank of lockers just outside of the Dungeon that tell the owners to contact Ryerson security to gain access to their lockers. Stanley said he saw the locks being changed.
Julia Hanigsberg, vice-president of administration and finance, confirmed that the university remains involved in the investigation but can’t release more.
“It is so critically important that we maintain safety on campus and that’s what this is about,” she said.
Ryerson President Sheldon Levy said the university will be looking at the physical nature of the space and making some changes.
“What we’re doing is asking ourselves what it is that created the problem,” said Levy. “We can’t ignore that it might have been where it’s located, a lack of supervision, how many times security walks by, the lighting and everything else.”
He isn’t sure what changes will be made, only that they wish to prevent the same incidents from recurring.
“It’s almost certain that the Dungeon as you now think of it will not be the [same].”