Illustration: Sarah Krichel

RSU Wellness Centre still in the works, set to open next year

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By Swikar Oli

The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) says it’s still addressing issues with the Wellness Centre, a mental health support centre and  a multi-faith space that the RSU wants to provide for students, a year and a half after it was first stated to open. The new date for its opening is set to January 2018. 

Current RSU executive and internal staff members will meet on Nov. 15 to brainstorm programming and furniture choice for the Wellness Centre, a holdover program from last year’s RSU team.  Subsequent meetings with students, professors and local non-profits will help hammer out what the space should do before it’s unveiled next year, RSU president Susanne Nyaga said.

There [are] a few ideas that are being thrown around but nothing is written in stone,” Nyaga said.

With the remaining $18,000 in the program’s budget, the RSU executive team will have to buy furniture and decide what services the centre will offer, whether the centre will have employees from community organizations and how long it will stay open, among other concerns.

Nyaga said having input from outside of the RSU is key to meeting inclusivity needs.

We want to bring in an aspect of programming where we want to deliberate particular peer to peer support groups or we want to bring in somebody from the external community organizations,” Nyaga said. “It’s better to bring in folks who have been doing this work for years and who’ve done the research behind it.”

The RSU is consulting with their Student Action Committee and Equity and Social Justice Committee, but will also consult with professors on campus who have done work around intersectional mental health. Intersectionality is a way of looking at how power can put distinct and reinforcing pressures on the different cross-sections of one’s identity.

The former RSU executive team proposed the transformation of the Used Book Room into the student Wellness Centre would be completed a year and a half ago, but the centre’s opening has been delayed a number of times due to construction delays, issues with clearing out the Used Book Room, and building code violations made during renovations.

Nyaga said the space was found to have violations that included improper ventilation, having the wrong door and materials that were not checked for their combustibility. The former RSU hired Onta-Reno Construction Ltd., a renovations company, and paid them a little over $19,000 for renovations. The former administration pointed out these mistakes shortly before they left.

Out of the current RSU budget for the Wellness Centre–proposed to be $36,200 for the school year, $18,000 was paid out to Unlimited Building Solutions, a construction company, in repairs to correct the mistakes. Nyaga said Unlimited Building Solutions is a reputable company and has been hired by Ryerson for various construction projects. She added that the violations are now corrected. 

The RSU’s Wellness Centre will be located at the basement of the Student Campus Centre. The Eye previously reported that the centre will not only provide mental health resources to students, but also a place of spiritual health and a place for different for different faith groups, with the addition of the Muslim Chaplaincy at Ryerson

“I just want to see the space start to get used. I’m saddened by the fact that for almost a year and a half now it hasn’t been used, so I just want to start pushing things, get it moved forward,” Nyaga said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story did not make reference to the multi-faith space that the Wellness Centre is going to provide for students. The Eyeopener Regrets this error. 

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