By Hayley Hanks
Groups at Ryerson have the opportunity to apply for student group status with the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU). However, not every group gets approved, and students have to figure out for themselves how to book event space on campus.
Dawn Murray, an administrator at the RSU who facilitates the student group applications, said groups are “very rarely” denied status. According to Murray, groups are usually denied for being too similar to other existent groups, not aligning with the RSU’s mandate or not complying with the student union bylaws.
“If the committee felt like it was just really isolated and that it was only a certain group of students … we represent 38,000 full-time students, so your group has to be open, unless it’s a religious or cultural [group].”
Murray has been working with the RSU for just over a year, and in her time so far she has seen three student groups applications get denied. The reasons for denial included similarity to an existing group, a dinner club who requested physical kitchen space wasn’t available and a group that Murray described as a “borderline cult” that asked to collect students’ money.
In the past, groups like the Men’s Issues Awareness Society were denied student group status because their mandate and operations did not align with the RSU’s. Groups have the opportunity to appeal the RSU’s decision, but if their appeal is denied, they cannot have student group status.
“When it comes to denying student group status, we try to work with these student groups to help them understand our concerns and how they can overcome those concerns … but when a student group just doesn’t feel like complying, that’s when we unfortunately have to deny them,” said RSU president Susanne Nyaga.
Nyaga said that being an RSU-affiliated student group allows groups to access base funding and the ability to book rooms in the Student Campus Centre (SCC) throughout the semester. RSU student groups also have access to staff with event planning skills and to advertise with posters in the SCC. However, if students are denied student group status through the RSU, there are other opportunities available for hosting events on campus.
“Anybody else can organize student groups, and I encourage them to,” Nyaga said. “If they don’t abide by the RSU … you don’t necessarily need RSU student group status in order to be an active student group on campus.”
Students who want to book space at Ryerson have to do so independently. Ryerson’s Temporary Use of Space Procedure states that “rental rates are determined at the discretion of Ryerson,” but does not provide a link to rental rates. Students who want to request space on campus have to fill out a student management event proposal.
“I encourage students who are looking for event space to work closely with student life. Their website identifies the steps that students must take, including submitting an event request at least seven days in advance,” said Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi in an email response.
Lachemi also said Ryerson community members can access space at Ryerson as long “as they are in compliance with Ryerson’s policies, procedures and municipal by-laws. This includes lecture halls, meeting rooms and classrooms.”