By Cole Brocksom
With Ryerson University beginning its first full semester of online distance education due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, students might not be aware of the services still available to them. To help students navigate this transition into the fall semester, The Eyeopener has compiled a list of student services that you might not have known are still up and running online.
Rent-A-Devil is a student-run organization that allows students to hire one of their advocates to attend lectures with them and “play devil’s advocate,” so the student doesn’t have to.
Rent-A-Devil advocates are specially trained to be obtuse, miss the point the lecturer is trying to make and plainly restate other students’ comments by prefacing with “jumping off of that,” without adding any original ideas of their own.
In the past, advocates would accompany students to in-person lectures. In an online-learning environment, advocates will now be added to class lists with fake names like Jackson, Derek or Brittany in order to access Zoom lectures and argue with professors on video calls.
2. Online Learning Fashion Consultants
The Ryerson School of Fashion’s Office of University Technology-Fashion Integration Tips (OUTFIT) is a service that provides students with solutions for their Zoom meeting attire needs. With the switch to online learning, OUTFIT has seen increased demand for their service: offering consultation for the top half of students’ outfits during video calls.
“OUTFIT has really helped me a lot,” said Mark Etting, a second-year marketing management student. “I always felt out of place in first-year showing up to mock-interviews in sweatpants. Now that the fashion peeps have helped me figure out how to pick a shirt and tie combo for my Google hangouts, it doesn’t matter what pants I’m wearing.”
3. Virtual Lake Devo
For students who are unable to make it to campus but still want to experience Lake Devo, the staff at the Victoria Building will now be sending out weekly emails asking for darts. The emails will be sent at odd intervals and include photos and videos of skaters fumbling their tricks.
4. SLC Online
For those students who miss the feeling of studying on campus, the Sheldon & Tracy Levy Student Learning Centre (SLC) has a new solution to recreate its study environment in a digital space.
While students will be unable to visit the seventh floor of the SLC for silent study, the SLC will be hosting Floor Seven Video Call events. Students are encouraged to keep their microphones on but not make any noise. They are also asked to avoid eye contact, in order to capture the incredibly tense atmosphere that was offered on floor seven.
5. Hub Café On the Go
Ryerson Eats has elected to move their Hub Café service onto DoorDash, a food delivery app. Students will be able to get their favourite Hub Café meals delivered, including stale pizza, mystery soup and rotating daily specials that won’t be revealed until they arrive.
6. Kerr Hall Guide
Many Ryerson students have their own story of getting lost while trying to find a class in Kerr Hall. That’s why the Service Hub teamed up with a group of Ryerson computer science students to develop an app that helps you navigate Kerr Hall and get to class on time.
“We had some setbacks—which definitely weren’t related to us getting lost—in the geo-mapping phase,” said Dee Bugging, head of development for the Kerr Hall Guide app and fourth-year Ryerson computer science student. Bugging said the setbacks delayed the app’s release date until long after Ryerson was shut down.
“Luckily we were able to rework the functionality of the app in time for the new semester—it now shows you where your classes would have been if we weren’t in the middle of a global health crisis,” said Bugging.
7. Ryerson Zoom Backgrounds
Some students may want to simulate Ryerson’s campus environment to help them ease into online classes. For this reason, members of the Faculty of Communication and Design have stepped up to help by creating Zoom backgrounds out of photos taken on Ryerson’s campus.
Students can download high quality background images of Ryerson’s most scenic spots, including the bottom of Jorgenson Hall, the Kerr Hall West basement across from the health clinic and the pile of bricks and fencing in front of the defaced statue of Egerton Ryerson.
8. Campus Life Advisors
As part of the Tri-Mentoring Program, Ryerson offers students one-on-one mentoring sessions with Campus Life Advisors. Now that campus life has largely been moved online, the university has reduced this service to just one guy sending students “advice animal” memes from 2014 he thinks best fit their situation.
9. Ryerson University Online Social Communities
Ryerson has always encouraged student interaction online by supporting a variety of Facebook groups, such as the yearly class cohort groups of which there are about five per year.
As the university transitions most of its operations online, the Office of the Vice-Provost, Students released a statement regarding these groups. “The university will ensure these groups are supported to the fullest extent so they can be used exclusively by Eyeopener writers looking for sources,” the statement read.
10. RU Therapy Dogs
Due to COVID-19 safety concerns, Ryerson’s therapy dogs will be unable to attend in-person sessions to calm and comfort students in the fall semester. However, the service has moved online: RU Therapy Dogs will be hosting Zoom calls where students can sign-on and spend time barking at the screen with their fluffy friends.