Left to right: Douglas Gibbens, Martin Bennett and Jacob Mazer PHOTO: JESS TSANG

The most unique clubs on campus

In Communities /

Do you like dance? Rockets? Pets? Games? Barrels of monkeys? If you answered yes to any of those questions, there’s an extremely awesome and absurd group on campus for you. Jordan Mady gives us the breakdown

Ryerson Rocketry Club

Before fourth-year aerospace engineering student Andreas Casal took over, the Ryerson Rocketry club was playing with a toy-rocket that came from a box in Kerr Hall quad.

After two years of careful planning and development, the club now builds their own rockets and competes in the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC), a large-scale international college and university rocket-launching competition.

At this years IREC competition, Ryerson’s rocketry club competed in the basic category. They were required to launch a ten-pound rocket as close to 10,000 feet above the ground as possible.

Casal said the University of Toronto’s rocket didn’t even make it off the ground because it melted on the launch pad.

In the competition off-season, the club meets on a regular basis to prepare for the 2014 IREC competition, which will be held near Green River, Utah.

Although the majority of the group members are in aerospace engineering, Casal says that they also try to involve students from other programs.
“We try to bring all kinds of departments together,” said Casal. “We bring in software engineers and electrical engineers too.”

But you won’t see them testing in the middle of Kerr Hall quad.

Casal said testing their current rockets would interfere with civilian aircraft flying above downtown Toronto.

Think that’s impressive? Well, he also said their rockets can fly faster than the speed of sound.

Urban Hip Hop Union 

Nine years ago, there was no hip-hop group on Ryerson campus.

Club founder Sid Naidu created Urban Hip Hop Union (UHHU) in 2005 with the goal to bring people together on campus through hip-hop.

In the fall, UHHU sends its dancers to the Ontario University Competition of Hip-Hop, and Bring Your Own Beat, another hip-hop competition held in the spring.

But UHHU doesn’t just dance. They participate in the Ryerson Student Union’s Culture Jam, as well as host educational talks, dance workshops and hip-hop discussions.

“We want to bring a sense of community back to Ryerson through hip-hop,” said Larisa Bodiu, current Urban Hip-Hop Union president.

She said that even though the group can only have 13 competition dancers, the invitation to join is open to anyone with a passion for the genre.

“We haven’t won in the past few years, but we never give up,” she said. “We always fight like a family. We do it because we love dance, because we love hip-hop.”

Responsible Pet Owners RU

Even though members of Responsible Pet Owners RU are passionate about animals, founder and club president Jenny Liu wants people to know they’re not activists.

She says they’re a group of 30 to 50 people that “just want to pet cats.”

Liu has loved animals ever since she was a kid. When she was just five years old, she found a rooster hiding in a bush and took it in as her pet.

Liu called the rooster Chicky and decided she would try to train it like a dog. After a while, Chicky learned to go for walks with her and play fetch.

Responsible Pet Owners RU was founded in January 2012 and is Ryerson’s first student group for animals.

The group’s passion for animals comes across through the work they do throughout the semester.

Recently, they ran a campaign cautioning pet owners to not leave animals in their cars during the hot summer months.

“It’s enough to love them,” Liu said. “But we want to do more for them.”

Association of Ryerson Role-Players and Gamers (ARRG)

The Association of Ryerson Role-players and Gamers (ARRG) meets regularly to play games and engage in live-action role-playing, or LARPing.

Members dress up in costumes and use swords or other props to create a fantasy game world.

Marco De Crescentiis, president of ARRG, said what makes his group unique is the difference between how ARRG members feel in and out of the ARRG atmosphere.

“You find people who aren’t asking ‘Why do you have a latex sword?’ but say ‘Cool, you have a latex sword!’” De Crescentiis said.

ARRG was founded just over five years ago. De Crescentiis said that the current group of more than 60 dedicated members still enjoy the same types of games that were played when the group first started out.

Some of the group’s favourite picks include board games like Settlers of Catan and trading card games like Magic: The Gathering.

De Crescentiis said it’s the balance of great people and fun games that have made the club such a success.

“We’re about games, but it’s the people that make people stay,” said De Crescentiis.

Gaming and Multiplayer E-Sports of Ryerson

Co-founders of gaming and multiplayer e-sports of Ryerson (GAMER), Kevin Ku and Raymond Kong, were sitting at a Tri-Mentoring meeting when they began talking about why Ryerson didn’t have a student group for gaming.

On Oct. 25, 2012, GAMER became an official Ryerson student group. Ku and Kong have not looked back since.

So far, GAMER has stuck to PC gaming. They regularly host events where games like DOTA 2, League of Legends, and Starcraft 2 are played. They are currently looking into broadening their game selection by adding games like FIFA and the well-known Call of Duty.

But this is only one of the things on their expansion list. GAMER is also seeking entrance into the growing E-sports competitive gaming circuit here in Toronto.

Gabe Sumabat, chief administrator officer of the club, said their main focus is to create a community of post-secondary gamers.

“Gaming is an international language and that makes it easier for us to connect with not only students at our school, but others around Ontario,” he said.

The group leaders said that what separates them from other student groups is that members don’t have to leave the comforts of their gaming setup to feel like they’re part of a community.

Barrel of Monkeys Improv Team

When the Barrel of Monkeys team gets together, anything goes. That’s the beauty of improvisation.

The improv team was formed in 2009. Brendan McGowan, the founder of the team, was originally part of Oakham Amateur Campus Theatre (OACT), now known as the Ryerson Community Theatre. It was one of the executives at OACT that suggested McGowan start an improv team at Ryerson.

“It started with the idea of having an improv group but to get as much of the Ryerson community involved as possible,” said Martin Bennett, a fourth-year film student who has been involved since the group’s beginning. “Improv is accessible to anyone.”

Ryerson’s only improv team meets regularly to play games and get to know each other. Each week’s activities are different because of the spontaneous nature of improvisation.

Originally, the group called themselves the Improv Team but in 2012 they rebranded and became the Barrel of Monkeys Improv Team.

“The name of the team was literally based on the barrel of monkeys game and a pirate ship,” said Douglas Gibbens, the current Barrel of Monkeys president.

The team is now an official Ryerson Students’ Union group and has grown in size over the past few years.

But out of all the student groups on campus, Gibbens said they’re one of the only ones who are “totally informal” and are “always looking for a laugh.”

So, what’s the requirement to join?

“You must be able to play Barrel of Monkeys,” Gibbens said.

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