Ryerson’s theatre lounge (left), journalism lounge (upper right) and a lab in the Centre for Urban Energy (lower right) were renovated this year. Photos: Jess Tsang (left and upper right) and Andriusha Priyanka (lower right)

The Ryerson cramps

In Business & Technology /

By Haiyun Wang

Only $160,000 of Ryerson’s $5.8 million renovation budget was used for student spaces this year, the lowest allotment of funding despite a growing need for study areas.

This year, $3.18 million of the renovation budget was designated to student spaces, classrooms, labs, washroom upgrades and offices.

While the remainder was used to upgrade old infrastructures such as the cooling systems in the library and School of Image Arts, wrote Julia Hanigsberg, Ryerson’s vice president of finance, in an email.

The $160,000 went to five renovated student spaces: new lounges for geography, theatre and journalism students, reconfigured work space in the RTA Transmedia Centre and a redesigned room for international students in the Victoria building.

Most of the budget went to creating and renovating science labs and facilities on campus. Almost

$1.2 million was spent on science labs like the new botany lab in Kerr Hall East.

The renovations are part of the Master Plan, a campus revitalization plan announced by Ryerson president Sheldon Levy in 2006.

The Master Plan outlines creating new facilities and infrastructure for research, teaching and student spaces, in order to accommodate Ryerson’s rising student enrollment, which has grown to 25,103 in 2007 from 13,271 in 2000.

Some students aren’t impressed with the student space renovations and want to see more areas created.

Third-year fashion student Rebecca Chandler said the fashion school’s studio space is tucked away in a dark basement, making work counter-productive.

“Mr. Levy should first address these students’ concerns so that they have the resources and study spaces that are conducive to learning before growing the campus,” said Chandler.

Other students said they understood the restraints of Ryerson’s downtown location.

“Overall you have to look at the restraints of geography. Students want to pay less tuition but wish to have more space for studying. Real estate downtown is at a premium,” fifth-year chemistry student Alexzander Samuelsson said.

While most upgrades are finished, there are still renovations to be done before 2014.

Asbestos removal, elevator guard rails and a better heating system are a few of the projects that will be coming to Ryerson later this year.

Next year’s renovation budget does not include student space.

Ryerson has put aside $4 million for next year to upgrade infrastructure, according to Hanigsberg.

“The upgrades will improve the performance of aging infrastructures to make sure students are studying in a comfortable and safe environment,” Hanigsberg said.

The low amount of funding for renovating and creating student spaces is due to money going towards the overall campus, which in turn supports students, Hanigsberg added.

“We always prioritize spending to support teaching, learning and discovery because that’s the university’s mission,” Hanigsberg said. “Infrastructure support student, classrooms and teaching labs. We don’t allocate infrastructure spending to any specific purpose but it absolutely supports students in campus spaces.”

While funding for immediate student spaces has taken a backseat, Ryerson has allocated $112 million for the Student Learning Centre, which is currently being built at the Yonge and Gould intersection.

The building will be used for student space, retail and classrooms and is projected to open in January 2015.

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