By Catherine Abes
On my first day back on campus in nearly five months, the first thing I noticed was the outdated copies of The Eyeopener still occupying the stand outside our office. They were from March 11—the morning after our Super Smash Bros. tournament, in which I’d gotten my ass mercilessly kicked. That week’s paper covered the legal battle between the Ryerson Students’ Union and the university, the opening of a new cannabis store and thrifting.
It’s probably the last issue that won’t mention COVID-19. At least for a while.
Usually our orientation issue acts as an introduction to university life, with pieces on relationships, partying, studying and taking care of yourself.
You’ll still find these kinds of stories in this issue, but we didn’t just write them for confused first-years students. This issue is for everyone, because no one could possibly say they’re well equipped for this dystopian digital disaster year. Not even the e-boys.
The Eye is in the same boat of having to adapt to these strange times. The bad news is that our office door is no longer open, with most of our masthead working from home and full-time staff only coming in as needed. All of our meetings happen over Zoom and involve at least two rounds of “Oh, no, sorry, you go first” and “Can anyone hear me?”
The good news is that we’re still in production and you can expect new stories every week. In terms of existential threats to our paper, this isn’t our first rodeo (don’t think we’ve forgotten about the Student Choice Initiative just yet, Ford). Even better: we’re still printing, albeit at a reduced, biweekly run. We don’t anticipate many people will be on campus and I don’t condone anyone leaving their home just to pick up our paper. But if you happen to be around—whether that be to see a friend from six feet away, conquer a months-long craving for your favourite after-class snack, or take a big whiff of the canola oil smell on Gould Street—wouldn’t it be nice to pick up the paper and find out how other people are doing? To know that the Ryerson community is still out there, and that there are people who feel the same way you do?
We’ll also continue to do what we do best: hold the institution accountable, ask hard questions and listen to students. Over the summer we saw Ryerson ignore community voices time and time again: the statue of Egerton Ryerson still stands, students are being charged full tuition to attend school through a webcam and the Anti-Black Racism Campus Climate Review Report that the school spoke so highly of turned out to be 26 pages of underwhelming recommendations.
Even the decision to remove special constables from campus only came after worldwide protests against anti-Black racism and police brutality, making the partnership with Toronto Police Service bad press. Meanwhile, the Black Liberation Collective at Ryerson has been speaking out against this partnership for years, with their demands going unheard.
As an independent campus paper, we’re not interested in vague statements and empty commitments. We’re going to report on what Ryerson’s decisions look like in practice and how they impact students’ well-being. We’re going to listen, then amplify your voices. And when we write these stories, we’re going to give it to you straight. There’s too many things to worry about in this world to be decoding PR copy as well.
I don’t know what this year is going to look like. But I like to take comfort in the fact that neither does anyone else. I like to think that this shared boat is unsinkable. So hold tight, Ryerson, and remember that The Eye is right there with you.