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What will Ryerson place in this space?

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By Brennan Doherty

It isn’t set to open until the middle of next semester, but the new Student Learning Centre (SLC) is already living up to the ‘student’ in its name.

A group of Ryerson students from a variety of faculties has thrown itself into the task of designing the interior use of the SLC alongside Ryerson strategic projects manager Carrie-Ann Bissonnette and the office of the provost.

Others involved include Vice President Academic executive director Amy Casey, the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) and several committees of stakeholders interested in the project.

One of these student groups — known as the SLC ambassadors’ liaison team — works in tandem with a preparation committee and Ryerson administrative staff to make students aware of what the SLC can offer. The office of the provost and the strategic projects team in charge of the SLC collected data on student ideas for the space through more than 2,000 student surveys over six years. This information was then passed on to the ambassadors for analysis. The group met for the first time this past October and intends to have several more meetings.

“A big part of it … is being able to provide feedback to the SLC about what students are saying about it,” said Alexander Waddling, a fifth-year psychology student and SLC ambassador.

Ambassadors are present from a wide variety of faculties – from community studies to business to science.

“They’re excited at the possibilities of what students can do. They themselves are people who have been able to do interesting and exciting things as students,” said Tyler Webb, an SLC ambassador and the president of the Ryerson Communication and Design Society.

Their input includes recommendations for how the booking system works, making students on-campus aware of the SLC’s possibilities and working with Ryerson’s SLC blog to promote the space. Many of these students are heavily involved in leadership and event promotion in a multitude of departments across campus.

“You’re going to see a lot of the same names come up who are operating the space or helping or assisting with the space,” said Waddling.

He was brought on board by Webb for his connections with students in the faculty of arts, as well as past work with the Careers Centre. Many others got involved after hearing about the initiative through Casey and Bissonnette.

While Casey and Bissonnette have acted as facilitators to bring brainstorming sessions together, it’s ultimately the ambassadors’ group — alongside the preparation group in charge of policy, the Bodhi collective, and on-campus organizations such as the DMZ and the library — that works to plan out possible uses for the SLC.

These recommendations go to the transitional committee in charge of developing the space.

“As a whole, it’s kind of like a big collaborative group working as the ambassadors start to create their opportunities, and stakeholders will start to come together to support the building,” explained Casey.

The ambassadors project intends to continue working as a bridge between Ryerson and the student community after the building opens in February. At that point, policy around organizing the SLC will be less important than feedback from students.

“A lot of it is going to be kind of opened up and see what happens, and then accommodate as it changes,” said Waddling.

Ryerson President Sheldon Levy said that taking in student voices was part of the SLC plan from the beginning.

“The university wants this to be a building that is student-focused,” he said. “It is [a] response to the students who need it to be student-focused.”

This process is still ongoing, Bissonnette said.

“Any student that is interested can call me, email me, whatever the case may be. I literally have an Excel spreadsheet of who wants to get involved [and] how. And we try to make that happen,” she said.

Construction of the SLC is still on schedule and it is set to open by the end of February 2015.

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