Photo: Sarah Krichel

Ryerson launches the ‘Zanzibar Zone’

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By Ben Snider-McGrath

Ryerson’s president unveiled the university’s new Po-Op program Tuesday under the Zanzibar Zone, an initiative which partners Ryerson students with select Toronto’s finest strip clubs.

Over the past decade, Ryerson has been gaining more and more connections with businesses throughout Toronto, and university president Mohamed Lachemi hopes his Po-Op program will present students with more workplace experience.

“We want to become one with the city,” Lachemi said. “We’re right downtown, we have associations with other Toronto businesses, and we want to expand even more.”

The Po-Op program, short for “Pole Opportunity” will start out as a co-op for business and fashion design students, but Lachemi hopes the program will grow with time.

“It just made sense to make this partnership,” Lachemi said. “We’re a short walk away from Zanzibar Tavern—The Zanzibar Zone—and Remington’s, which are both just up Yonge Street. I truly believe the Po-Op will offer students valuable real-life experiences they could not learn in a co-op with, say, a bank or a marketing company.”

Lachemi is not the only faculty member excited for the new program. Tanya Marsh, a fashion design professor of seven years, says that she is thrilled for her students and cannot wait for them to get started with the Po-Op.

“We’ve worked with lingerie before,” Marsh said. “But we’ve never gotten any real hands-on experience! This hands-on experience will open so many doors for my students.”

“We want to become one with the city. We’re right downtown, we have associations with other Toronto businesses, and we want to expand even more.”

Adam West, associate dean of the Ted Rogers School of Management, says he does not share Lachemi and Marsh’s enthusiasm for the program.

“I just don’t understand the need for it,” West said. “We’ve had students co-op at successful companies like Deloitte and TD, many of whom continued onto successful careers in business. Why do we need kids learning how to run a strip club?”

West is outnumbered, however, as many of the university’s faculty and board of directors are behind Ryerson’s newest project. Lachemi, who continued to boast his “golden idea,” as he put it, remains its biggest supporter.

“We don’t have much of a campus compared to schools such as Western or Waterloo or other Ontario universities,” Lachemi said. “But what we lack in a small, tight-knit campus community, we make up for by being a part of the big city. Connecting with businesses around the GTA just makes sense. I can’t wait for those doors to lead soon-to-be Ryerson success stories into strip clubs.”

Ryerson officials say details still have to be finalized but the Po-Op program under the Zanzibar Zone is set to be completed in fall 2018.

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