By Alanna Rizza and Keith Capstick
The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) in conjunction with the Palin Foundation—the board that makes decisions on behalf of the Student Campus Centre (SCC)—is launching an investigation into the Ram in the Rye’s kitchen manager after allegations of workplace harassment were brought forth by staff.
The RSU will also be submitting two motions to the board on Nov. 11 to gain more authority over the Ram’s hiring and management, as well as to give the pub renovations over the winter break, according to RSU president Obaid Ullah.
The investigation into current manager, Tracey Thompson, comes after Ram employees spoke to The Eyeopener about allegations of Thompson threatening to punch an employee in the face and making an inappropriate comment about another employee’s breasts.
Ullah said he met with SCC general manager Michael Verticchio to discuss the investigation. Ullah said a report is being written and that it will be presented at the Palin Foundation’s board meeting.
The Eye reached out to Verticchio for comment on the investigation. He responded via email with the same statement he sent after the initial workplace harassment allegations surfaced.
“The Ryerson Student Centre has not received any complaint of harassment. There are several formal channels by which employees of the Ryerson Student Centre are able to make complaints of harassment as the Ryerson Student Centre takes all complaints and allegations of harassment seriously,” the statement reads.
Ullah said that after a semester of complaints, the RSU is planning to get more involved with the upkeep and organization of the Ram.
“We’re looking for ways to have more control over the pub and have a say in management and consulting with CESAR and the university and trying to find a way to make sure that students are happy,” he said.
The Palin Foundation includes members of the RSU, the Continuing Education Students’ Association at Ryerson (CESAR) and the university. Its purpose is to make decisions on behalf of Ryerson students regarding the SCC.
The RSU holds the largest number of seats on the board with five, then CESAR (three), then the university (two).
Ullah said one of the motions to be presented at the board meeting will be for two members from the executive committee to be present at every hiring process at the Ram. He said this will give the RSU more input into how the Ram is operated.
Ullah said he thinks there has been a lack of knowledge of how the Ram’s management is structured and who can have a say.
“At the end of the day we’ve always run on a motto that [the Ram] is student-run, but students haven’t had a say in what’s going on.”
Ullah also said there will be a motion for the Ram to get a facelift. This will include a paint job, new floors and furniture as well as better lighting. He said he hopes this will give the Ram a friendlier atmosphere and be more appealing for student group events.
“For the whole semester there have been constant complaints about the pub,” Ullah said. “We’re hoping a facelift will [make students] forget about the negativity that the Ram in the Rye has had in the past and that we can start a new semester.”
The Ram seems to be getting a revamped look every year. This past summer the VIP room was renovated for extra space and the menu was completely re-done. Oakham House—the Ram’s neighbouring cafe which shares staff, management and a kitchen—also just finished a big renovation that started this past summer.
Ullah said the RSU’s vision for the Ram is to make it a place that students are proud to call their campus pub.
“We don’t have direct say over how the pub is being run,” Ullah said. “But what we can control is the looks of the pub, the views of the pub and somewhat of the experience that it gives off to the students.”