By Alexandra Holyk
Most courses offered in Ryerson’s fall 2020 semester will be offered online with a potential mix of online and in-person courses, according to a statement from university president Mohamed Lachemi on Friday morning.
Lachemi also said one scenario Ryerson is planning for is a gradual return to campus based on Ontario’s re-opening framework and the university’s government partners.
“We will not ask anyone to come to our campus until our government and public health agencies have told us it is safe to open and that the safety and well-being of our entire community can be assured,” Lachemi said.
In an email to The Eyeopener, Lachemi confirmed that the potential re-opening of campus would include student residences, however, he did not specify how or when students would be able to move in.
Incoming first-year journalism student Amelia Willes said she is concerned about a mix of online and in-person classes and wonders whether or not she’ll have to move to Toronto from Ottawa before the start of the semester.
“One of the biggest reasons why I chose Ryerson over other schools is just because I know that they focus on a lot of hands-on experiential learning,” Willes said, referring to the journalism curriculum. “I just need to accept that first year’s going to be a little different than I expected it to, but I’m just trying to [stay] positive.”
Another incoming first-year professional communications student Michaela Ferraro said she’d even consider deferring her acceptance, however, she didn’t want to “delay her career path.”
“All of this is so new right now,” Ferraro said. “[The primarily online semester is] something I have to talk about with my parents and reflect on myself, then I’ll decide how to approach the situation.”
The statement also mentions plans to offer as many on-campus activities as possible—in accordance with public health guidelines—along with online programs and academic supports.
Ferraro and Willes also said they don’t think Ryerson’s frosh week—an event they were both particularly looking forward to—will take place, despite the university’s goal to offer on-campus events.
“[Frosh week] is so big that I don’t think it would be possible,” Willes said. “Maybe they could do something at the start of second semester…but I’m definitely a little sad about that.”
Student groups such as the Ted Rogers Students’ Society (TRSS) also said they are worried about student life at Ryerson amidst online classes, especially since many events are held during the fall semester.
“Realizing how important student life is, [we’ve] been actively planning and re-planning events,” TRSS president Brad Wells said. “As for our actual events, we still haven’t cancelled any in-person events we’re planning until we hear more from the university.”
The fourth-year marketing student added that TRSS is exploring the idea of introducing new online events and how in-person events would look like once campus re-opens.
Ryerson created two groups to navigate challenges that may arise as the situation surrounding COVID-19 progresses. These include a scenario planning group that will consider possible challenges and plan accordingly, as well as an opportunities group working on long-term “strategic planning” and “managing change,” the statement reads.
Second-year computer science student Liath Kamal said he wishes Ryerson would accommodate international students’ needs. Living at home in Amman, Jordan, Kamal is currently taking courses that start at 11 p.m. and run until 2 a.m. EEST.
“I think [Ryerson] didn’t really take into consideration the obstacles that [international students] might face,” Kamal said. “I’m going [into the fall semester] prepared for the worst and hoping for the best.”
Other post-secondary institutions such as York and McGill universities also announced that their fall semester will be primarily offered online. The University of British Columbia (UBC) said larger classes will be offered online, whereas smaller classes could be facilitated in-person, adhering to social distancing and other guidelines set out by the government.
Ryerson will continue to provide updates as the university finalizes its plans for the upcoming semester.