Rye students living on and around campus unsure if they should move back home

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By Alexandra Holyk

Following Ryerson’s announcement on Friday that all in-person classes would be cancelled to prevent the spread of COVID-19, students living in residence are still deciding if they will move back home.  

On Friday, Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi announced that although students are advised to self-isolate, residences and food services—including dining halls—will remain open. 

According to an email obtained by The Eyeopener, students living on campus were sent options if they chose to go home. This included filling out forms based on how long they’ll be gone or if they choose to withdraw from residency.

The email also stated that food services in the International Living & Learning Centre (ILC) will be closed temporarily, but the Pitman Dining Hall will continue to operate as normal. 

“Meals in the Pitman Dining Hall will be served to residents by Ryerson Eats staff in takeout containers and with prepacked cutlery. Self-serve and build-your-own stations will be closed,” the email read, adding that in-house dining is also suspended.

Residents are limited to inviting only one guest—instead of the usual three—to prevent large gatherings.

Ayleen Karamat, a first-year journalism student, said although her parents want her to come home, she plans to stay in her residence at the Daphne Cockwell Complex (DCC) until the end of the semester. 

Originally from Pakistan, Karamat said it would be difficult to adjust to the time difference, especially since the coursework is all online.

“When it’s daytime here, I’m gonna be asleep there,” Karamat said. “In general, it’s just gonna be kind of complicated.”

Karamat also said she finds there is a lot of uncertainty from the university. “Every day, I feel like something new happens. Like today, we just figure it out about the residence things…It’s kind of complicated. And…it does freak me out a little.”

Prior to receiving the email from Ryerson Student Housing, Karamat was worried she and her friends would be kicked out of their residence building. “We thought about the worst-case scenario,” Karamat said.

Students living in the HOEM residence building on Jarvis Street received a similar email that included the cancellation of fitness classes and other events hosted by the building.

Alex Baumgartner, a first-year journalism student, lives in HOEM and said he’s planning to move back home to Florida. But he said he is wondering if he should leave his personal items in the building.

“I was worried what would happen to my belongings in my room in the case that I wouldn’t be able to re-enter Canada,” said Baumgartner. “[The HOEM team] said they would move the things in my personal bedroom to a storage area. Where that storage area is, I do not know.”

According to Baumgartner, HOEM residents only agree to 12-month terms, so he’d have to move out by the end of August.

Like Baumgartner, Natasha Gulej also lives in HOEM. She said she’s staying on campus until the end of her residence agreement. 

Since Gulej is from Mississauga, she said moving back home wouldn’t be difficult for her. However, the first-year creative industries student said her international roommates are struggling to find flights to get home before it’s too late.

“[Everyone] is shocked because we were supposed to all have another month here with school or just [until] the end of August, but everyone’s kind of picking up and leaving,” Gulej said.

To help students staying on the 10th floor of ILC adjust to online classes and self-isolation, David Jardine—the floor’s RA—said they’ve created ways to “hang out virtually.”

“I made my floor a discord server so we can…play games together and we also got a Minecraft server where I built a replica of our floor in the world,” Jardine said. 

Jardine mentioned they continuously keep students updated on COVID-19 with information from Toronto Public Health.

In addition to students living in residence, those who live in housing near campus have also contemplated moving back home and are coming up with ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while still living in shared spaces in Toronto.

Aaron Aubertin, a second-year politics and governance student, said most of his roommates in his Campus Cooperative Residence on Spadina Avenue decided to move back home after their courses were moved online. However, even though Aubertin said he doesn’t think he’s infected, he still plans to stay on campus until the end of April to prevent his family in Niagara Falls from potentially getting sick.

Living in a co-op with 11 other students from different universities, Aubertin said they’re trying to keep everything sterile by using wipes to clean common surfaces in the kitchen and having hand sanitizer at almost every door in the house.

“As soon as we get in the house, we hand sanitize till we can wash our hands,” Aubertin said. “We’ve all just been very thorough knowing that if one of us gets it, it’s probably likely that most of us are going to get it.”

This article will be updated with more information as it becomes available.

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