Volume 54 - Issue 7 January 27, 2021 theeyeopener.com @theeyeopener Since 1967
if itâ€™s broke
fix it STUDENTS NEED A UNION THAT WORKS p6 Cover: Harry Clarke
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Happy anniversary: One year since Rye dumped the RSU By Alexandra Holyk On Jan. 24, 2020, Ryerson University announced it was terminating its 1986 Operating Agreement with the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU). In the statement posted on Ryerson Today at the time, vice-provost, students, Jen McMillen wrote that the university “no longer recognizes the RSU as the official student government representing Ryerson students” and that the university has “lost confidence” in the RSU’s ability to represent and serve students. McMillen went further explained that between the allegations of financial mismanagement and the RSU’s failure to meet conditions set out by the university—which included conducting a forensic audit, sharing the audit results with the university and negotiating a new operating agreement—Ryerson had to pull the plug on the 34-year-old agreement. One year out from the breakup, let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at all the fun we had over the past two years, as well as what it’s resulted in for current students. In the beginning... To get the full picture of how we got to the termination, you’ll need a little context. In January 2019, The Eyeopener obtained photos of financial statements showing food, clothing, alcohol and club purchases—totalling more than $250,000—with a credit card under then-RSU president Ram Ganesh’s name. Ganesh and thenvice-president operations Savreen Gosal, who was also a signing officer on the RSU’s expenditures, were suspended by the executive team. It took two votes to impeach Ganesh at the Feb. 11 Board of Directors (BOD) meeting—the first vote failed, surprisingly. Student groups director Maklane deWever was elected interim president for the rest of the term in a secret ballot election. At the Feb. 1, 2019 BoD meeting, the RSU passed a motion to renegotiate the operating agreement with the university at the request of the school. However, as of October 2019, the new RSU executive—the Refresh slate—and the school still hadn’t finalized a new operating agreement. Given that four out of six executives allegedly weren’t working their full-time hours, one could understand why work on the agreement wasn’t being done.
When elections came around at the beginning of March, students were still able to vote for all four proposals.
PHOTO: JIMMY KWAN
On Dec. 10, vice-president equity Naja Pereira and vice-president marketing Victoria Anderson-Gardner resigned from their positions, citing an “unhealthy” environment. On Dec. 17, vice-president operations Augustine Onuh was impeached—his position, along with Pereira’s, was filled. Ahead of the winter 2020 semester, Kwaku Agyemang resigned from his position as vice-president education. In mid-January, a petition calling on RSU president Vanessa Henry to resign due to alleged discriminatory behaviour and misuse of funds garnered over 1,000 signatures. However, RSU bylaws require that a motion to impeach someone be brought before the BoD, so Henry was never impeached. By the end of the month, she and vice-president student life and events Joshua Wiggins were the only two executives left standing from Refresh—and the year was only halfway through. The RSU files a police report We’re almost at Jan. 24—bear with us. Following the credit card scandal, the RSU hired PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) to conduct a forensic audit as per Ryerson’s request. Once the investigation was completed, the RSU filed a police report with the Toronto Police Service (TPS) on Jan. 20 following the alleged “financial mismanagement.” TPS confirmed the investigation is still open and ongoing in an email sent to The Eye on Dec. 30, 2020.
The RSU gets dumped by Rye According to McMillen, the union’s financial mismanagement al“Legal reasons”— legations breached the 1986 Operateveryone’s favourite ing Agreement with the university. In response, the RSU released a non-answer statement on Facebook saying it didn’t accept the termination as valid Issues among the executives under their agreement with Ryerson. In late 2019, three RSU executives Before they found out they were were up for impeachment for alleg- terminated, the RSU said it planned to edly failing to work full 40-hour work release the forensic audit and a report weeks throughout their term. on the audit at the Semi-Annual Gen-
eral Meeting (SAGM) on Feb. 3, 2020. May and December 2018. Since the full forensic investigation would RSU files legal claim against Rye have been expensive and taken a The girls are fighting! Four days af- “significant amount of time,” the ter the termination, Henry announced RSU asked PwC to investigate only the RSU had filed a legal claim with the union’s credit card expenses. the Ontario Superior Court of JusWhen a student asked why a fotice against the university. The RSU rensic audit was not conducted, wanted to legally obtain the bag—$2.7 as was required by the university, million in damages for breach of con- Maharaj said she couldn’t comment tract, the release of the student fees due to “legal reasons”—everyone’s withheld by the university, $100,000 favourite non-answer. in punitive damages and a declaration that Ryerson is in breach of its agreeIt took two votes to ment with the RSU. impeach Ganesh...the ﬁrst At a press conference held that vote failed, surprisingly morning, Henry said the RSU was “in fact, hours away” from sending a new draft of their agreement when Plans for new student governthey received notice from the uni- ment continue versity of their termination. Almost a month after terminating the agreement, McMillen released a Rye’s new student government statement with updates surroundplans, RSU elections ing the new student government In the same way I simply do not process. McMillen also addressed see my deadlines, Ryerson was the RSU’s services that would be seemingly unfazed by the lawsuit. preserved, which included the Good In several statements shared be- Food Centre (GFC) and the Centre tween Jan. 29 and Feb. 3, McMillen for Safe Sex and Sexual Violence announced that Ryerson would be Support (C3SVS). moving forward in establishing a The proposals for a new student new student governing body. Pro- government structure included: Ryposals for a new student govern- erson Undergraduate Students’ Alment structure were to be submitted liance (RUSA), Ryerson First, the and voted on by Ryerson students. Ryerson Graduate Students’ Union Expecting to prevail in their legal (RGSU) and the Ryerson Univerclaim, the RSU still held its elections sity Student Collective. On Feb. 26, for the 2020-21 term. The Rise slate campaigning began for the new stuwon the majority of votes, electing dent government structures. Ali Yousaf as the RSU president. During the campaign period, Ryerson First was suspended from RSU SAGM reveals financial re- campaigning online and on-camview, not forensic audit pus for two days because the team At the RSU’s first SAGM after allegedly violated campaign rules. being dumped by Ryerson, the Te- Though the university wanted cumseh Auditorium was filled with to create a new student governstudents anticipating the executive ment to avoid the RSU’s drama, it team’s premiere of its forensic audit seemed as though the student poli(students wanting to attend an RSU tics ~spice~ never sleeps, regardmeeting? Who would’ve thought.) less of who’s involved. However, Henry and RSU execuA few days later, David Jardine, tive director Reanna Maharaj pre- the student who put forward the sented a “financial review” conduct- proposal for RUSA, dropped out of ed by PwC that only looked at the the campaign process due to conunion’s expenditures made between cerns about their mental health.
Injunction and new government elections On March 6, Justice Markus Koehnen heard the RSU’s legal claim. The union sought an injunction—requiring the university to refrain from terminating their agreement with the RSU. Even though Rye and the RSU were in court that day, the university didn’t forget to remind everyone about its plans to replace the union. Ryerson announced that RUSA won the election for the student government structure and graduate students voted in favour of the RGSU, which would’ve been the first governing body solely representing full-time graduate students. On March 9, Justice Koehnen ruled in favour of the RSU, which meant the university had to release the withheld student fees and reinstate the union as the student representative body. In addition, Koehnen awarded the RSU partial legal fees of $68,657.82. A new operating agreement In the final days of the RSU BoD members’ 2019-20 term, the union and the university were able to negotiate a new agreement that includes provisions for the RSU to record revenues and expenses, provide the university with its operating budget and audited financial statements and designate a liaison between the two parties to improve communication. The new agreement has a fixed term of five years with both the RSU and Ryerson being expected to renegotiate and agree on its renewal nine months before the end of its term. As for RUSA and the RGSU— once the injunction was granted, everyone went back to not caring about student politics, including Ryerson’s attempts at replacing the RSU. Eye editors were relieved they would be reporting on one student governing body instead of three. That being said, the RGSU will officially represent all graduate students starting in fall 2021. Present-day RSU Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the RSU has significantly cut back on its operations and laid off several full-time and part-time staff members, including its events coordinator, CopyRITE printing service manager, GFC coordinator, campus groups coordinator and graphic designer coordinator. All of the C3SVS staff were terminated, as well. We can only guess what will happen next. -
Editor-in-Chief Catherine “I Thought Cats Was Kind of Beautiful” Abes News Charlize “Jollibae” Alcaraz Alexandra “Jess Seesgirl” Holyk Heidi “(Damn It) Janet (I Love You)” Lee Photo Laila “Still In EST” Amer Harry “HIM” Clarke Jes “WordPress MASTER” Mason Online Tyler “Olivia Rodrigo” Griffin Kayla “Sabrina Claudio” Zhu Features Dhriti “Corporate Needs You to Find the Difference Between These Three Fonts” Gupta Arts and Culture Abeer “!!!!!!” Khan Sports Will “Why Aren’t Raccoons Domesticated” Baldwin Biz and Tech Aaliyah “Remembered the Newsletter” Dasoo Communities Kiernan “Kneeslapping Days Are Over” Green Fun and Satire Rochelle “I Was Legally Declared a Lasagna” Raveendran Media Parnika “All Wisdom, No Teeth” Raj Eli “Royalty-Free Smooth Jazz” Savage Web Developer Farhan “Deep Web” Sami
General Manager Liane “Bernie Mittens” McLarty
Calling Black writers and creators! February is Black History Month. To prioritize the stories of Black voices, The Eye wants to offer our publication as a platform for content that celebrates the Black experience as rooted in joy and passion.
Advertising Manager Chris “Hooray For Ads!” Roberts Design Director J.D. “Dummies For Smarties” Mowat Contributors Samreen “The Interview Queen” Maqsood Nishat “Night Owl” Chowdhury Donald “Learning Is Dope” Higney Darya “Pitch Me A Listicle” Soufian Sophie “#MyLife” Chong Naomi “Office Hours” Chen Sonny “The Indomitable” Sehra Miranda “Is The New” Black Armen “Waiting For a Woj Bomb” Zargarian Gavin “PLD” Axelrod Justin “Is Ready For the Leafs to Hurt Him Again” Walters Sidra “:)” Jafri Daysha “Quarantine-in-Res Watchdog” Loppie Edward “Trevor Noah Stan” Djan Sarah “Credit, As A Treat” Tomlinson Stacey “Period, Queen” Nguyen Yasmine “The Box” Elkhouly Elena “Vax at MAC” De Luigi Nika “Good Chives Only” Petrosian Prapti “Love Yourshelf” Bamaniya Thea “Appealing AF” Gribilas Camilla “Congratulations Donny!” Bains Abbey “Sorry, I Shrugged” Kelly Ruisi “Breaking Dad” Liu Merida “I Love ‘Drivers License’” Moffat Apurba “S’mores Pop-Tarts Champion” Roy Mariam “Podcast Voice” Nouser Samross “The Great” Thorg Lesi “Legendary” Yang Ruth “Bader” Gambino Bella “Still Not a Cat” Gambino
We’re looking for stories of success, creativity and innovation, written by Black journalists and writers about Black folks in and around the Ryerson community. We’re also accepting prose, poetry, pictures, videos or artwork. We would love to see your work regardless of the topic. Our goal is to showcase a history of love, tenacity, culture and curiousity that goes beyond courage in the face of oppression. Interested? Reach out to editor@ theeyeopener.com with your pitches and ideas by February 5.
ILLUSTRATION: HARRY CLARKE
This is a paid opportunity offering $50 per piece.
From the archives: The top Eyeopener headlines from the weeks our editors were born For this week’s feature, news editor Alexandra Holyk revisits years of reporting on the Ryerson Students’ Union. Many of the files she pulled from preceded her time at Ryerson, showing that sometimes to understand the present, we have to look to the past. At 54 years old, The Eyeopener doesn’t quite qualify for a seniors discount, but it does have a few dinner table stories that could teach those darn kids a thing or two. A scroll through our archives features tips on everything from how much Gravol you can take to safely get high to how to swindle your university. Here are some highlights of our effortlessly evergreen content, in accordance with the weeks that Eye editors were born.
dictator fearing a coming revolution, Lajeunesse is reported to have avoided talking to the press at all costs. Any attempts by The Eye to reach him were cut short by Lajeunesse’s various assistants, who themselves had trouble reaching him. — Eli Savage, Media Editor
“Confessions of a phone sex operator” (Feb. 9, 2000) February is always a saucy month at The Eye with our annual Love & Sex issue. My personal favourite was a graphic, yet poignant account of what it was like to be a phone sex operator by an anonymous contributor. While horny folks now have an infinite number of ways to get off online, the “ignorance, hatred and unrepentant misogyny” the writer dealt with over the phone seems to persist to“Household highs” (March 15, 1998) day. — Kayla Zhu, Online Editor This article is a shining example of The Eye’s critical service journal- “Scamming 101” (Jan. 17, 2001) ism: teaching students how to get This article is made up of interzooted using common household views with university students who items such as whipped cream can- are scamming the universities that isters, bananas and a pound of raw are scamming them, like an Uno peanuts. While this article was orig- reverse card. Highlights include one inally intended for folks on a budget, student who created a fake newspait works just as well for those who per-style obituary to prove his stillhaven’t seen the plug since lock- living grandfather’s death, which down began. Stay home. Stay safe. he used to get out of an exam, and 10 to 15 grams of nutmeg, when in- another who split the cable from his gested, should cause a mild psyche- school’s residence lounge TV so he delic experience. could get free cable. — Catherine Abes, Editor-in-Chief — Rochelle Raveendran, Fun & Satire Editor “The Silent Man” (Jan. 13, 1999) This editorial shows the timeless “School too cheap and easy: Hisand futile nature of trying to speak torians” (Jan. 20, 1999) truth to power at Ryerson. Our siThis piece from David Dias (who lent man is one Claude Lajeunesse, a went on to write for Reuters) proves former president of Ryerson. Like a that questioning the value of your
2020-11-24 2:26 PM
time at uni is timeless, though we have a more nuanced understanding of value, privilege and access now (kind of like Friends). According to the aforementioned historians, grade inflation allowed mediocre students to infiltrate university campuses. The solution: “an elitist university structure where tuition is scaled up to match ‘prospective earnings’ and profs go without tenure.” Thankfully, the idea didn’t catch on (kind of like the Friends reboot). — Kiernan Green, Communities Editor “The fourth annual Eyeopener Drink Olympics” (Feb. 28, 1998) Eye mastheads come and go, but we all have one thing in common: we take our drinking very seriously. It’s been some time since we’ve convened at the back of Ram in the Rye for post-production drinks, but, thankfully, we can live vicariously through our 1998 masthead in this recap of the fourth Eyeopener Drink Olympics. The games featured delegates from six equivalent countries and organizations—Italy, Britain, Ireland, China, RyeSAC (now the RSU) and the Ryersonian—and heavyweight Eyelumni like The Globe and Mail’s Shane Dingman and The Athletic’s Sean Fitz-Gerald. Various degenerate events, like drunken twister and the luge (where competitors suck beer through straws as fast as they can), were held until Neill-Wycik security shut down the party (some things really do not change). I believe I speak for all Eye editors—past, present and future—in saying I’m proud of our legacy. — Tyler Griffin, Online Editor
Residence imposes new COVID-19 protocols for students returning to Toronto By Daysha Loppie Ryerson students who went home for the break are facing new quarantine requirements upon returning to residence for the winter semester. On Jan. 7, Housing and Residence Life sent out an email, obtained by The Eyeopener, which announced that students returning to residence following interprovincial travel would have to self-isolate for 14 days. After Ontario entered a province-wide lockdown on Dec. 26, the Ontario government strongly advised that individuals only travel outside of the province for essential reasons and self-isolate for 14 days upon returning. Students who will arrive at residence during this provincial shut- ing Learning Centre (ILLC) after redown period are provided with turning from Vancouver on Jan. 13. food delivery and support through “It’s only been a few days,” she a 24/7 COVID-19 hotline. said. “I’m already going crazy.” Upon arrival, Gillis said she received “isolation kits,” which includ“It’s only been a few ed toilet paper, shampoo packs, facial days, but I’m already bars, gloves and a disposable mask. going crazy” She said she was lucky to be in her own room, adding that some stuMadeline Gillis, a first-year RTA dents were relocated to other rooms new media student, said she went for their quarantine period. back home to Vancouver over the One issue Gillis said she is facing break because she had been away is food delivery—meals are dropped from her family for four months. off outside the rooms of quaranHowever, Gillis said it was a risky tining students, and although food decision to travel out of province is delivered within a “reasonable” since she was “a little bit at risk of time, sometimes it arrives cold. COVID” due to her medical condi“I would love to be able to use the tion—parts of her brain shut down common room microwave, but I when she gets sick. can’t,” she said. Now, Gillis is quarantining in Olivia Dyas, a first-year creative her room at the International Liv- industries student who will now
PHOTO: DAYSHA LOPPIE
have to quarantine upon arriving from Victoria, B.C., said she was upset when she first received the email from Housing and Residence Life. “I’ve never gone that long without human contact, ever,” she said. “I’ve always lived with my family and my room [at residence] is tiny.” She added that although quarantine would be tough, she thinks “it’s fair.” “When you have so many different people coming from so many different places to the same building, it can be dangerous,” said Dyas. Powering through loneliness Nina Moser, a first-year biology student who visited her family in Vancouver during the break, also has to self-isolate. While she said things could be worse, she’s not looking forward to quarantine.
“I’ll be sitting at my computer every day...and I can’t go outside,” she said. “It might be bad for my focus. I might not do as well in school as I hoped.” But for Moser, the light at the end of the tunnel is to see her residence friends again. “I haven’t seen anyone in over a month and I miss everyone.” Moser said she understands why residence is taking the utmost precautions. The Eye previously reported one known case of COVID-19 in the ILLC building. “I know they managed the outbreak well the first time,” she said. However, Moser added that the lack of clarity from Housing and Residence Life about what happens when a student contracts COVID-19 was “a little bit concerning.” According to Housing and Residence life policy, students must inform their residence advisor (RA) immediately if they’re feeling symptoms of COVID-19. However, Moser noted that since residents haven’t had a chance to get to know their RAs, students might feel uncomfortable reporting to them.
“I haven’t seen anyone in over a month and I miss everyone” In an emailed statement to The Eye, Ryerson said that student residences are expecting 52 additional residents this semester. Gillis, Moser and Dyas all expressed that they are excited to meet some of
the new, incoming students after their quarantine. With new arrivals and students returning from travelling within Ontario, first-year student business management student Tosin Williams said he is excited, but also worried about a potential outbreak in residence. Williams is currently staying at Daphne Cockwell Complex and did not travel during the break. He said he decided it was too risky to travel to Port Harcourt, Nigeria to see his parents, adding that if his parents wanted him to go back, he would’ve refused. In fact, many students living in on-campus residences have already expressed uncertainties about travelling for the mid-year break, even before new requirements were put in place. While Williams doesn’t have to quarantine, he did experience some isolation over the break, having been one of the few students left in ILLC during the holidays. Most students went home as ILLC was closed, though students could remain for a fee. He said he did encounter moments of loneliness, so he had to find different ways to spend his time. “I went on runs and good walks,” he said. “I read, and ate…slept, and [watched] Netflix.” While self-isolating, Gillis said her friends at ILLC will sit in the hall and they’ll talk through the door. “Honestly, I just try and do whatever I can. I find little things throughout my day to do.”
MAC as mass vaccination site By Elena De Luigi Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi has offered the city of Toronto one of the school’s athletic centres as a mass COVID-19 vaccination site. Lachemi commented on a LinkedIn post by Melinda Rogers-Hixon, a member of the board of directors at the Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Partnership. He expressed interest in using the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) as a mass-vaccination site in an effort to ramp up vaccine distribution.
“This is an offer from us, but it’s not our decision” “Ryerson is more than willing to make the [MAC] at the Gardens available for mass vaccination,” Lachemi wrote. The City of Toronto piloted the Metro Toronto Convention Centre as its first mass-vaccination site. However, it was shut down within five days due to a shortage in vaccine supplies as a result of
production issues, as reported by the Toronto Star. In an interview with The Eyeopener, Lachemi said the university has the medical and administrative capability and capacity to administer vaccines, but the decision to open a site lies solely with municipal and provincial authorities. “Given our role as city builders, we are more than willing to offer [MAC] as a mass vaccination centre,” said Lachemi. “This is an offer from us, but it’s not our decision.” Ryerson professor and public health expert Timothy Sly said the news of Lachemi offering the MAC as a mass-vaccination site was not surprising. With rising COVID-19 cases and the high demand for a vaccine, he said the number of doses being dispersed would have to increase enormously. Sly said to reach herd immunity across the province by October, about two-thirds of Ontario’s population would have to be vaccinated. This would mean immunizing a minimum of 10 million people with two doses of the vaccine.
He said those figures add up to about 68,000 vaccinations every day, but the province was only hitting about 4,400 daily doses as of Sunday morning. He also said if the vaccination count doesn’t go up, “We’re going to be vaccinating way into 2022. The job is enormous.” Sly added that a mass-vaccination site at the MAC would look like a large number of injection stations with health professionals such as registered nurses, physicians, pharmacists and even nursing assistants who know how to distribute the vaccine. It would also involve crowd control, hand sanitizer, mandatorymask protocols, laneways for people to be physically distant from each other and vaccinations offered by appointment only. The only disadvantage in using the MAC, said Sly, would be the limited amount of parking available. “You’d need to coordinate where people come. Lots of labelling, lots of signage, lots of arrows, different languages…so people don’t feel as if
PHOTO: JIMMY KWAN
they have to really struggle to find where they’re supposed to be going. It should be easy.” Sly also mentioned the site should have a screening process at the door, free masks available, and a space where people can sit and wait.
ners and other key stakeholders to discuss the possibility of providing another vaccination site to aid the vaccine’s rollout. Ontario is currently in its first phase of the three-phase rollout of the vaccines. The general population—including Ryerson students— is anticipated to be vaccinated in “We’re going to begin phase three, which will occur when vaccinating way into 2022. vaccines are available for every Ontario resident that wants to take The job is enormous” them. The provincial government said this will happen around August Lachemi said that when the time this year. comes, the university will be ready “We need to be patient and wait a to consult with health system plan- bit,” Lachemi said.
Former RSU presidents weigh in on what it would take for the union to return to its pillars: student life, advocacy and services.
words by alexandra holyk • visuals by laila amer
hen Alexandra Nash started her undergraduate degree in psychology at Ryerson in 2017, she was sure of one thing: she didn’t want to get involved in student politics. Her lack of interest didn’t have to do with the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) itself but was more specific to the culture around student politics. Nash heard from her friends in course unions that the environment was often stressful and polarizing. She saw it as a “glorified student council”—a popularity contest where elected students don’t really accomplish anything. Nash also noticed a much stronger student activist culture in other parts of the world, including Quebec. Based on this, she believed student unions should use their collective bargaining power to advocate for their membership, rather than focus on student life events. Nash hoped to make substantial change by running to be a member of parliament for the New Democratic Party (NDP) in fall 2019. She ended up losing but realized during her campaign going door-to-door and speaking with constituents that it was still possible to leave a lasting positive impact in her community, which motivated her to give student politics a chance. Once she returned for the winter semester, she was approached by the Inspire slate, one of two parties running in the 2020 RSU election. She was asked to join the team during the campaigning process, just weeks ahead of the vote. Nash hesitantly agreed to join, initially afraid of burning out after the federal election and without much knowledge about the RSU’s internal operations. She figured that as a member of the organization, she’d have a seat at the table—a chance to voice her ideas around changing the image of the RSU. In February 2020, the Rise slate won the majority of the seats on the RSU’s Board of Directors (BoD), including a full sweep of the
executive positions. Some Inspire team members including Nash were elected as directors from several of Ryerson’s student faculties. Nash doesn’t explicitly advocate for the Faculty of Arts; instead, all board members collectively work in the best interests of the RSU and its membership. Since joining the BoD, Nash has already experienced the polarizing landscape of student politics her friends had warned her about. She believes the reason for this is that the students coming into the union’s roles are still in the process of developing their own beliefs and skills and may not have the experience of operating in a professional environment and dealing with conflict. She says that “some people are convinced they know everything.” “I think in some ways, student politics is predisposed to be more divisive on the surface than non-student politics.” She also feels that the turnover rate affects the environment; with new executives almost every year and having to start initiatives from scratch, tension is expected to rise. But despite it all, Nash is confident that the RSU has the potential to work in the students’ best interests. “I do think that most, if not all, of the people that I’ve interacted with in student politics are driven to work for what they think is the right thing for students and for the RSU.” The RSU is built on three pillars: student life, advocacy and services. In its mission statement, the union says it’s a “trusted” ally and “resource” for more than 40,000 full-time undergraduate and graduate students. Since its inception dating back to the university’s founding in 1948, the intended purpose of the RSU has been to serve the Ryerson student body. In just the past decade, its most notable accomplishments include shutting down
Gould Street, introducing gender-neutral bathrooms across campus and pushing for a fall reading week. However, the union has also seen impeachments, resignations, terminations—of staff members, as well as its contract with the university—and hundreds of thousands of dollars from student levies spent by executives on personal expenses, all in just the last five years. In a book about student government called Student Governance and Institutional Policy: Formation and Implementation, Michael Miller and Daniel Nadler define the role of a student government or union as being the voice of its membership. It should also encourage student participation in its decision-making process, as well as ethically collect and distribute student levies. Finally, the students’ union is tasked with addressing students’ needs by providing them with campus activities and services. Therefore, student governing bodies are necessary as they allow for institutional change based on the demands of their student populations, they argue. Miller and Nadler go on to say that despite efforts to shape the quality of university life, however, student governments are often overshadowed by internal power struggles, student apathy and disorganization. Miller says the feeling of power and selfimportance is especially seen in the highest level of student government: the role of the president and their executive team. This can lead to a certain agenda being pushed by the team that may not be in favour of the student body and can affect the allocation of collected fees. He added that corruption within a student government is not uncommon, and the RSU is no exception. Ryerson students feel that there is a lack of transparency and trust with their representative governing body. Former RSU executives agree and believe that increased efforts in
student awareness, among other aspects, can get the union back upon its pillars.
ora Loreto, a writer, activist and public administration graduate, remembers being excited to get involved in politics throughout her childhood before coming to Ryerson in 2003. Loreto recalls the carnival-like scene as she walked down Gould Street during the university’s fall Week of Welcome. As she strolled by booths, she was naturally drawn toward a booth organizing campaigns against tuition fees and encouraging students to vote in the provincial election. The booth was run by Alex Lisman, a former vice-president education of the student governing body, previously called the Ryerson Students’ Administrative Council (RyeSAC). Loreto spoke to Lisman about how she wanted to get involved and encourage students to think about tuition fees as they voted. Lisman put a star next to her name on the signup sheet, recognizing she was eager, and made sure to follow up with her. Since she was of voting age, it was important to Loreto to vote to remove former premier Mike Harris from office, due to significant budget cuts his administration made to the Ontario education system—specifically, the cuts faced by her gifted program throughout her elementary school years. She was ready to get involved, but like many other first-year students, she wasn’t familiar with student politics. In 2005, Loreto ran for vice-president of education and won, serving in the position for the next two years, after which she ran unopposed for president for the 2008-09 academic year.
what will it take? During her three years with the union, Loreto and her team changed its name to the RSU, illegally shut down Gould Street with student occupants—before the street was officially shut down by the City of Toronto in 2012—and claimed ownership of the Student Campus Centre (SCC). Loreto says many of these actions took years of planning, petitioning and negotiating with the university. While organizers were mindful of student safety and took police response into consideration, Loreto says students involved in the campaigns weren’t worried about the legality of their actions because they felt they had strength in numbers. During those same years, however, Loreto faced internal power struggles when the teammates she ran in the elections with became her opposition. “It was never over a political disagreement,” Loreto says. “It was, ‘We don’t like you, so we’re gonna take the power away from you as president.’” Despite issues faced by the executives, Loreto says the union never had to prove why it needed to exist or felt as though it had a bad reputation. Though students knew about the union’s internal problems, they understood these as challenges that arose when members of a team had opposing views. Students continued to respect the union because the services they needed were still being provided, Loreto says. When there seemed to be an issue related to the union, the team would hold special general meetings to hear students’ concerns and would often meet or surpass quorum, which requires at least 100 full-time Ryerson students to be in attendance. Since her term as RSU president, Loreto says that years of corruption have led students to believe there’s no point in having a students’ union, which is supposed to be their autonomous voice from the university.
Miller says corruption within a student government stems from two types of incoming student leaders: the student who wants to take something that’s undeserved—whether that’s money, power or the desire to appear influential—and the student who comes into the position not knowing what to do and not realizing that something they’re doing might be wrong. “[Those types of leadership] become a problem, because we then create a culture of doing things that are not appropriate,” says Miller, adding that it sets a bad precedent for incoming executive members for years to come. Loreto says she hasn’t been keeping up with the RSU recently but when something about the union pops up in her social media feeds, it’s usually negative. This de-legitimacy of the union is a disservice to students in that it removes the university’s opposition when it comes to matters of advocacy, she says. Today, this is seen in the RSU’s delay in lobbying the university for a pass/fail option for fall 2020 grades. Though the cur-
rent vice-president education Siddanth Satish says he’s been in talks with Ryerson’s administration about re-introducing the credit/ no-credit grading system, Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi did not confirm to The Eye whether or not it would be an option. Meanwhile, final grades for fall 2020 were released on Jan. 12. Loreto points out that the recent incidents she’s heard about have “only been a couple of years of shit,” and there’s a possibility to restore the organization’s relevance. She proposes several ideas to help the RSU improve its reputation, which include showing what the union does through its work and services, removing executives and rebuilding the board if necessary and closing the knowledge gap for students who are unaware of the need for an autonomous student governing body. “If students don’t have [an independent voice], they’re fucked.”
efore Susanne Nyaga took on the role of RSU president in 2017, she was heavily involved in student groups and collectives that advocated for marginalized folks on campus. Through conversations with vulnerable students, she realized that Ryerson wasn’t doing enough to provide the support and resources they needed. She also looked into the RSU’s history of advocating for students and compared it to what she saw at the time. Nyaga says it was sad to see such a powerful organization put students’ needs on the backburner. She recalls the misuse of funding following 6 Fest in 2016 being another reason she ran for the position. The event, which Nyaga says was poorly organized, resulted in an approximate $1.1 million deficit, and Equity Service Centre (ESC) staff were left with minimal funds to organize events. 6 fest was an RSU-organized concert showcasing artists like Diplo, French Montana, Pusha T, Roy Wood$ and DVSN. The music festival was scheduled for September 2016, then moved to Thanksgiving weekend due to logistical complications. Many students demanded refunds for their tickets as they weren’t able to attend over the holiday weekend. In January 2017, The Eye reported that almost $80,000 of 6 Fest refunds were transferred into the personal bank accounts of former vice-president student life and events Harman Singh, Ram Ganesh (who went on to become RSU president in 2018-19), Merch (Ganesh’s private merchandise business) and Ali Yousaf, at the time a director of the RSU finance committee and now RSU president. “A lot of the decisions that I saw coming out of the RSU weren’t really reflecting the needs of students,” Nyaga says. “They were more reflecting the needs of the executives...and the power or clout that they wanted to obtain.” In Miller and Nadler’s book, they point out that student advocacy is supposed to play a large role in the functionality of a student government. But for most student unions, they say the reality is that advocacy is almost completely absent—it’s limited to the executives and the governing body itself rather than the student body it’s supposed to be representing. This year alone the RSU had to cut several student services during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes the Good Food Centre
(GFC) and the Centre for Safer Sex and Sexual Violence Support (C3SVS). Though Yousaf and the RSU’s vice-president equity Vaishali Vinayak say the C3SVS is still operating, its full-time and part-time staff were fired in November 2020 because “the centre was being managed poorly,” Yousaf said in a statement to The Eye. The GFC coordinator was also one of five full-time RSU staff members laid off due to a fear of low enrollment numbers and lack of work, according to Yousaf. Once Nyaga was elected, she felt that the environment within the RSU’s executive team was toxic. Three out of the five executives were from the opposing slate with ties to the previous year’s executives, and everyone seemed to want different things. However, she was determined to achieve the best for the students and the union without conflict, even if it meant taking on every role of the executive team when other team members were being apathetic toward their responsibilities. Miller and Nadler further point out in their book that student apathy is quite common when it comes to student government. It starts within the union itself; the student government is only as powerful as the determination and energy of the students involved. Nyaga understood that her fellow executives may have been inexperienced stepping into the role, but she says the main problem with the team not doing their jobs stemmed from erosion in communication—people weren’t reaching out for support in their projects, weren’t showing up for meetings and weren’t communicating about their absence. One of the first controversies Nyaga faced during her term was “Colonialism 150,” a campaign launched on Facebook that criticized Canada 150 celebrations in July 2017 due to the country’s roots in colonialism. Several RSU executives and directors said they weren’t aware of the campaign ahead of the Facebook post, including Nyaga. Nyaga says she and the then-vicepresident equity received backlash from the RSU board, as well as people responding to the campaign online, and recalls dealing with a lot of similar issues throughout her term. “I felt like I was always being brought on to clean up messes, but never brought on to use [my] expertise to ensure that messes weren’t there to clean up.” Nyaga knew the RSU had a bad reputation when she came into the role and believes the lack of transparency continues to exist between the union and its students. Since headlines surrounding the RSU tend to be negative, it’s difficult to build trust with the membership. Miller says the RSU is at fault for not communicating transparently. Contact information such as emails and phone numbers are often buried on websites, making it difficult for students to express their concerns efficiently. “The union has a full unequivocal responsibility to inform their public of the good and bad things that are occurring within their organization and that they’re taking actions.” According to RSU bylaws, the president acts as the spokesperson on behalf of the organization. In the past, there was open communication with the student body, as well as the media. Board meetings would be open for students to attend and voice their concerns. This year, however, BoD meetings aren’t announced to the student body in advance. One student who came to a meeting to voice their concerns was muted, and Yousaf only communicates with The Eye via emailed statements on behalf of the entire RSU board.
In early 2019, the year following Nyaga’s presidential term, The Eye obtained photos of financial statements showing food, clothing, alcohol and club purchases made with RSU credit cards under the names of executive members, including Ganesh—totalling to more than $250,000. The statements were discovered by the RSU’s student groups director at the time, Maklane deWever, who requested to see the union’s financial reports, which were supposed to be provided to the board but weren’t.
The student body was quickly made aware of what happened and called for Ganesh’s impeachment. After the first vote to impeach him failed, a second vote was conducted at the February 2019 BoD meeting and passed. Following this, deWever was elected as interim president in a secret ballot vote. deWever believes the changes he made during his short time in office became the catalyst for students to get more involved and demand transparency. That being said, he points out that the union must meet students where they’re at rather than expect students to come to the union with questions and concerns. “I remember at a town hall, it was called ‘Transparency and Trust’...it was supposed to be this opportunity for students to come talk to me and people at the RSU, and no one showed up,” recalls deWever. Though deWever can’t speak to this year’s executive team, both he and Nyaga say that in order for the RSU to regain trust with its membership, it must connect with students in order to be more transparent. “I hope that accountability and integrity can become foundational to the work that the RSU does,” Nyaga says. “We’re no longer talking about its potential, but we’re talking about its actual actions.” “I think Ryerson students deserve a lot better than they’ve had recently.”
ooking back on her experience with the RSU over the past year, Nash says she doesn’t regret getting involved in student politics. But as the situation evolves, both with the pandemic and the board itself, she still isn’t sure what to expect. Nash says that students are a disempowered group, and for that reason, they need an organization that fights for them. When it comes to the RSU, she understands that scandals tend to be more visible than helpful services the union offers, and she doesn’t blame students for not wanting to get involved in student politics. However, she does ask students not to lose sight of the power of collective action. “My personal feelings around any kind of organization that you’re a part of that you want acting differently...is to be actively involved and to make your voice heard.”
BIZ AND TECH
Breaking down Ryerson’s plan for a smart campus Among other features, a smart campus would reduce traffic congestion and energy consumption for better environmental performance
By Donald Higney Ryerson University has partnered with Vancouver-based system integration company FuseForward to help turn the downtown campus into a “smart” school—meaning the area will be optimized with streaming data from smart devices and sensors. “It’s a partnership between industry and academia to take new technologies to market,” said Mark Damm, the CEO/CTO of FuseForward, in a Dec. 10 virtual presentation called “Building Smart Infrastructure: An Inside Look at the Ryerson Smart Campus.” Ryerson has been working with FuseForward on smart building systems and infrastructure since 2016, according to Ryerson central communications. Even before then, the Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science (FEAS) had similarly been working with facilities management and development (FMD) to “develop algorithms and research that drive down energy consumption on our campus,” said Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi. The goal of the smart campus project is to optimize Ryerson’s campus by using predictive analytics, as well as sensors and monitors, to improve environmental performance and reduce traffic congestion and energy costs while still being open for the development of smart buildings. Assistant architecture professor Jenn McArthur is one of the FEAS members who has been working with FMD. McArthur’s work and research make her an expert
in smart building systems and sustainable building design. She has secured over $3 million in grants for smart campus development. “The vision that’s driving the research we’re doing is a world in a future where all of our infrastructure, our buildings and networks all work together,” said McArthur in the presentation. McArthur touched on the importance of the technology to identify smaller problems, like a broken piece of a machine, before it leads to something greater. “We want to be able to predict issues before they happen. We want to be able to predict failures before they’re catastrophic.” FuseForward uses automated information technology (IT) systems to make businesses run more efficiently. The four areas of automated IT research they are facilitating for Ryerson’s smart campus are smart mobility, smart buildings, smart infrastructure and sensor fusion and digital twins.
“We want to be able to predict issues before they happen” “The smart campus project aligns with Ryerson’s goal to support larger city building activities,” said Lachemi. “It positions Ryerson as a key partner for communities and cities that are seeking holistic sustainability solutions, as well as industry partners seeking to advance smart building technology research
and development.” The Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences Complex (DCC) has been the testing site for the new technology, complimenting the building’s pre-existing building automation system. Currently, the DCC building has a few different “smart” features. It uses radiant heating, a system of energy where heat can be supplied directly to the floorboards or wall panels of a building. The bathrooms use a greywater system— meaning any water collected from rain, showers or taps can be treated and used to flush toilets. Offices are temperature controlled using chill beam technology, another energyefficient medium. Perhaps closest to the smart campus vision is DCC’s “comprehensive sub-metering system” and carbon dioxide sensors. The system collects real-time data about the buildings’ energy use which is then examined to create new opportunities for sustainability and energy efficiency for future construction projects. The sensors identify the amount of carbon dioxide being used in the building and emit fresh air as needed. Smart-Data Safety Since the start of the pandemic, a new area of study has sprung up when it comes to turning Ryerson into a smart campus: the study of a safe return. While campus has been operating at a minimal capacity, the team found it useful to gauge how often or rigourously spaces need to be cleaned. Using some of the technology already in
place at Ryerson such as occupancy sensors and predictive algorithms, a schedule can be put in place for the cleaning of buildings. “There’s a really great opportunity for smart buildings and smart campuses to help to make these [spaces] not just smart, but also healthy and a lot safer in this current pandemic context,” said McArthur. One of the challenges of the project is that the majority of the buildings on Ryerson’s campus were not designed to be smart buildings. Some of Ryerson’s buildings heavily predate smart technology such as Kerr Hall, which was built in the 1960s. However, the repurposing of older buildings has taken place at Ryerson before. Last year, The Centre for Urban Innovation (CUI) was opened, which incorporates the first pharmacy school in Canada—the Ontario College of Pharmacy. The architecture of the CUI preserves the original three stories of the pharmacy school and has added new additions on the north and east sides of the building, as well as a green roof. The site was also the home of the university’s Theatre School from 1971 to 2016. Instead of collecting new data, the team will begin by making use of the networks of data that are already available as they set up the newer smart technology. Another challenge will be ensuring the security of the network. Ryerson has a one-way connection across a local area network (LAN) firewall, while also installing a virtual private network (VPN). “Without this firewall and oneway connection, you could actually
go through the roof [of the DCC] and hack through this and it would expose the entire building automation system to remote hacking,” said McArthur.
“The vision that’s driving the research we’re doing is a world in a future where all of our infrastructure, our buildings and networks all work together” “One of the greatest fears of smart buildings is that somebody is going to be able to come in and hack into a thermostat or a Wi-Fi node or a temperature sensor or a CCTV camera or something and use that to get into the security system and hack through,” she continued. Managing the volume of data associated with smart buildings is another significant task. DCC currently experiences over 5 billion changes of value per year. Those “values” can refer to anything from the temperature changing or lights turning on and off. “There are all sorts of different types of data. So we need to sort it, we need to make sense of it,” said McArthur. FuseForward is currently working with Simon Fraser University in British Columbia on their Big Data Initiative and has worked with other schools such as York and Brock Universities, University of British Columbia (UBC), University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) and Mohawk College. No official statement has been made by Ryerson about the project; however, Lachemi said the university will be sharing more details “in the coming days.”
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Through My Eyes: COVID-19, and my family’s recovery First-year journalism student Sonny Sehra never thought COVID-19 would happen to him, until his entire household got sick
By Sonny Sehra In neuroscience, there is a famous cognitive bias called optimism bias. Essentially, humans have a psychological tendency to believe we won’t suffer from a misfortunate event– the impressionable “It won’t happen to me!” mentality. An example of this in action would be a cigarette smoker rationalizing the risks of smoking by referring to an elderly relative who also smoked and managed to live to old age despite their habit.
Despite the fact that less than 24 hours ago I came into contact with an individual with a confirmed case of COVID-19, my optimism bias intensified In my case, it was watching the statistics of COVID-19 cases swell on my TV screen but subconsciously believing that, somehow, I wouldn’t get sick. I adhered to the health guidelines, kept up to date with the news, socially distanced, wore my mask outdoors and excessively washed my hands. But to my dismay, I became a “NEW CASES IN ONTARIO TODAY” statistic. On Nov. 18th, a ripple of shock was sent throughout my household. My aunt, who we were all in physical contact with the day before, tested positive for COVID-19. I vividly remember waking up that morning and heading downstairs as usual, confronted by the confusing sight of my mom in a mask, wiping every last inch of the kitchen with
PHOTO: SONNY SEHRA
Lysol disinfectants. Despite the fact that less than 24 hours ago I came into contact with an individual with a confirmed case of COVID-19, my optimism bias intensified. I began rationalizing the situation by believing we’d be lucky COURTESY: SONNY SEHRA enough not to contract it. I hoped for the best. We got tested that day and had to wait a couple of days for the results to arrive. I was certain we’d be safe…until my family members began exhibiting the symptoms. My dad was first to show; he was hacking his lungs out and developed a fever. Then my mother and brother started coughing ceaselessly not long after. Both of them developed fevers that night, too. Then they all started to experience lethargy and secluded themselves in separate rooms–my dad slept in the living room that entire week. I naively told myself this was a case of the placebo effect. After all, I felt perfectly fine myself. Unlike my
family members, I was asymptomatic. Either this was a placebo or I had a case of pure luck. I went to sleep early that night in my basement instead of my room, which I share with my brother. I was feeling more tired than usual, but I told myself it was because I woke up early in the morning. I dozed off peacefully that night. I randomly jolted awake–as if awoken from a nightmare–at 3 a.m., shivering to the point where my hands were having tremors. I told myself it was because the basement was cold and went upstairs, turning up the heat while the entire house was asleep. It worked to no avail. My chills were intensifying, my body felt weak and now I was coughing. Shaking, I woke up my dad who comforted me and helped me fall back asleep after giving me Tylenols. Instead of the basement, I slept on the couch in the kitchen, so I could be closer to my dad in the living room.
That was the moment I knew this wasn’t a placebo, and no bias could help me. I accepted my fate. Our tests came back on the Nov. 20 and 21 proving what we already knew at that point. My household of six, including my baby brother with a congenital respiratory condition and 88-year-old grandma, all tested positive for COVID-19. The virus spread sequentially through the rest of my extended family like falling dominoes. My aunts, uncles, cousins and relatives all contracted it in due time.
Church-Yonge 262 per 100,000
North St. James Town 451 per 100,000
Cabbagetown 257 per 100,000
Bay St. Corridor 209 per 100,000
[COVID-19] made my family bond in a way that we didn’t before All of my cousins and brothers lost their sense of taste and smell. It was the most eccentric feeling: I was incapable of picking up even the slightest whiff of the strongest
spices. My food lacked any taste whatsoever. At one point, I began to panic and fearfully believed that it’d be permanent; that I’d never be able to smell or taste again. On Dec. 7, I ran downstairs and threw up in the bathroom at 7 a.m., bellowing in pain. I couldn’t get up and my stomach hurt anytime I tried to move. My dad thought my appendix was damaged and I was rushed to the hospital, yelping, wearing nothing but socks and pajamas. Since I had COVID-19, I was put in a private room, and was utterly lonely. I was in the hospital for seven hours (drifting in and out of sleep) with the kindest nurse. They gave me various IVs. Apparently, the medicine my doctor gave me for my nasty cough was obstructing and clogging my bowels. I was sent home that night, wearing a hospital gown and given new clothes. It took me a few days to recover. COVID-19 upended my life. It prevented me from enjoying my first semester of university and put my entire family at risk. But it altered our dynamic—it made my family bond in a way that we didn’t before, making us all closer as we constantly checked on each other and took care of one another. Another silver lining was that my recovery gave me loads of time for introspection. I got to read books I never got around to, I had time to write. My optimism bias went from “it won’t happen to me” to “it happened to me but we’ll make it through okay” and, despite the scary hospitalizations and the vulnerability of my family members, we made it through okay indeed. Miraculously, we all safely recovered, including my grandma and little brother.
COVID-19 in our neighbourhoods, by the numbers Tighter restrictions and lower numbers daily hardly mean this pandemic has gone anywhere. While information isn’t available for the number of cases on Ryerson’s campus specifically, the City of Toronto has available data for the concentration of cases in Toronto neighbourhoods. Here are the rates of the number of cases per 100,000 people as from January 4 to January 24 in the Church-Yonge corridor, where Ryerson is located, and its surrounding neighbourhoods.
Kensington-Chinatown 439 per 100,000
As the City’s website notes, these maps shouldn’t be used as an indicator of the risk of acquiring COVID-19, where people were exposed to the disease, or the location where they were tested. COVID-19 can be caught anywhere, which is why it’s Infographic by Kiernan Green
Moss Park 395 per 100,000
ARTS & CULTURE
School of Fashion alumna receives the Order of Canada By Samreen Maqsood Susan Langdon, the executive director of the Toronto Fashion Incubator (TFI) and a Ryerson School of Fashion graduate, received the Order of Canada on Dec. 30, 2020. The Order is one of the country’s highest civilian honours and is awarded to those who have made significant contributions to the country. Langdon was given the title for her contributions to the fashion industry as an executive, mentor and educator who has positively impacted Canada’s culture and economy. She is a Toronto-born, third-generation Japanese-Canadian, whose family was placed in prisoner internment camps in British Columbia during World War II. After graduating from Ryerson’s fashion design program in 1977, Langdon worked as a successful fashion designer. In 1994, she was appointed as the executive director of the TFI, becoming the first woman of colour to be hired in a leadership role in the Canadian fashion industry. “That was pretty groundbreaking back then,” said Langdon. “Nowadays, people don’t really think about it, but that wasn’t all that long ago, and it’s shocking to think that I was the first one,” she said.
By Nishat Chowdhury Last year, Miguel Casimiro would often study at his local Starbucks, at the University of Toronto Mississauga or on campus at Ryerson. Casimiro agonized over his grades and was focused on achieving nothing less than an A minus. To him, this was “non-negotiable.” This school year, the third-year marketing management student at the Ted Rogers School of Management has spent his time in his workspace in the basement of his childhood home in Mississauga, Ont. He sits at his desk for ten hours a day in his pajamas, getting distracted by video games or watching anime instead of watching his asynchronous lectures. Casimiro said he’s not scrutinizing his grades as harshly this year compared to previous years because it’s a lot harder to concentrate, stay focused and have the motivation to get work done from home. “I still wanted to do as well as I could, but I don’t have that mindset that if I don’t get this 3.67 GPA, I’m a failure,” he said. “My thought was: if I give up, then I’m a failure. If I don’t give up and I just keep working to the best of my ability, then it’s fine.” Despite being more relaxed with his grades this year, Casimiro
The TFI is a non-profit organization that supports Canadian fashion designers. According to Langdon, they offer resources and support to young designers starting their businesses, similar to Ryerson’s Fashion Zone. “When I became the executive director, I think having somebody who’s [racialized] lead this organization really gave others confidence in our organization and they started joining,” said Langdon.
a few awards that came with some money,” she said. Langdon said there should be more grants and incentives for young racialized students interested in pursuing careers in their fields. Without extra support and funding, it may be hard for underprivileged students, including those interested in fashion, to kickstart their careers, she said. Providing support for young, marginalized fashion designers would “give them a step ahead” in entering a predominantly white industry and making their own mark, Langdon said. “By overlooking this group [and] underestimating their talents, the Canadian fashion industry or the fashion industry at large globally are going to miss out on some of the best talents in the world. We have to start nurturing them now.” Langdon worked on programs to provide this kind of support throughout her career. In the early 2000s, she organized Passion for Fashion, a youth entrepreneurship program in partnership with the TFI and Youth Employment Services. The program ran for six months and produced distinguished alumni like Sage Paul, the founder of Indigenous Fashion Week. Langdon later revamped the pro-
gram into Fashion Your Future, a free summer boot camp for racialized youth in Regent Park. It’s a project she takes a lot of pride in—many businesses that came from this program went on to be very successful, said Langdon. “A lot of those businesses are still functioning, they’re still selling. That makes me quite happy.” Through her work on an international scale, Langdon put Canadian fashion on a global stage. She worked with designers like Line The Label, a fashion line that has dressed members of the Royal Family, including Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle.
Recently, Langdon has been working on Showroom Canada, a business-to-business wholesale digital platform that will connect Canadian fashion companies with 200,000 global retailers. The program—in collaboration with the Canadian High Commission in the United Kingdom, Global Affairs Canada, the Department of Canadian Heritage and London Fashion Week—intends to expand Canadian fashion outside of North America and into the United Kingdom. Showroom is set to launch on Feb. 16. on an online business platform called Joor.
lenging, some of us moreso than others,” she said. Since the pandemic, Academic Accommodation Support (AAS) at Ryerson has introduced three new offerings under the Strive program, a commitment-free, virtual drop-in where students can connect with other AAS students.
gentle reminders throughout the semester that perfection and amazing grades are not necessary, and the fact that he overcame another week was a great achievement. “You survived week one, yousurvived week two, you survived the midterm week, you survived half of the semester. I’m doing the best I can in order to survive this semester,” said Mesich. According to the 2019 Youth Voice Report by Jack.org, 81 per cent of Canadian students tied aca“I’m doing the best I demic stress to poor mental health. can in order to survive Results from an Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Assothis semester” ciations survey, which polled 2,200 faculty members and 500 students In order to protect his mental in Canada, found that about 55 per health, Mesich had to give himself cent of post-secondary students
were concerned for their mental health due to changes and challenges arising from COVID-19. In order to avoid burnout during the pandemic, Zoe Ladner, a secondyear biomedical engineering student, tried finding new ways to study. This year she started using the pomodoro technique, which calls for setting a timer for 25 minutes and focusing on one task until the timer rings for a five-minute break. This method has helped her become more realistic with her work habits, and has helped her step away from online school when it becomes too much. Instead of studying continuously, she said she takes frequent breaks and doesn’t push past her limits. Ladner said that once she starts setting unrealistic goals for herself, she stops absorbing the information she needs and starts making mistakes in her work. “If it gets to be a bit much, I take a break and I’ll go eat.” Ivy Bourgeault, professor of sociological and anthropological studies at the University of Ottawa, said attending to personal mental health is important and post-secondary students should seek and use every single service available to them if they need it. “There’s absolutely no shame or stigma in this because we are all going through something very chal-
“We have to start nurturing [young, marginalized fashion designers] now” In pursuing her education and career in fashion, Langdon faced racism and systemic barriers. “There has been always and continues to be, unfortunately, a racial bias against people of colour,” said Langdon. Her parents couldn’t pay for her tuition, leaving Langdon to save up her summer job earnings and rely on OSAP grants to pay for school. For her and many other racialized people, that was the only way to get into Ryerson and attain a postsecondary education. “I would assume a lot of BIPOC people don’t come from wealthy families. I was lucky; as an undergraduate, I won
ILLUSTRATION: JES MASON
achieved marks he was happy with and got accepted into co-op, even though “this is the one year I allowed myself to actually slack off,” he said. While some students have been able to end the fall term with excellent grades due to the flexibility and accessibility of asynchronous lectures, not everyone had the same experience, said third-year psychology student Jeremy Mesich.
PHOTO COURTESY SUSAN LANGDON
“There’s absolutely no shame or stigma in [seeking help] because we are all going through something” “We know the pandemic has exacerbated everyone’s stress, and certainly those with existing disabilities. Our goal is to keep students registered with AAS feeling connected and supported,” said Academic Accommodation Support in an emailed statement to The Eyeopener. Bourgeault says students need to understand they can reduce their course loads, take a term off and request accommodations. The most important thing is their mental health and well-being. “Just be really kind to yourself. You are the most important person to yourself; the most important person that you need to attend to. All of this will pass.”
How two Rams seniors are bringing lessons learned in sport to their new careers ing on and always puts 110% into everything.” The remembrance of support, memories and friendships formed during last season’s exhilarating journey made the cancellation of the 2020-21 season particularly sobering. Romanska admits to being disappointed but took the loss in stride. “There is no point of dwelling on the fact that you can’t [compete] right now,” said Romanska. With collegiate figure skating out of the picture, Romanska focused on another passion that’s driven her since childhood: an everlasting curiosity and knack for getting to know people. “When I was seven or eight I had this little dark green notebook, it was from Dollorama, and I wrote down silly questions and asked everyone these questions. I was convinced I was going to be the next Bob Woodward,” she said. Anastasiya Romanska performs at the 2020 OUA Championships held at the Mattamy Athletic Centre. With more time allocated to her professional problem he identified in the sport: a lack of life, Romanska approached local outlet blogTO By Armen Zargarian personal and quality coaching for goalkeepers about writing historical articles that showcased Despite the cancellation of Ontario University in the GTA. often forgotten neighbourhoods in Toronto. Athletics (OUA) for the 2020-21 season, two “For a position that’s so technique-based, I of Ryerson’s senior athletes are intrinsically think it’s very important to have smaller groups “Skating taught me acknowledging relaying their respective sport to their evolv- of players. The coach can see what’s going and ing careers. Though they may not be on the critique you as you are doing it,” he said. The privilege and getting up when you fall down, which shaped me” ice or pitch anymore, the lessons they learned Clean Sheet Goalkeeping Academy strictly adthere are helping them every day. heres to a maximum of five trainees per trainer. By the start of her fall semester at Ryerson’s On the day of our interview, GhazanAli Ghazanfari fari trained four goalies. “I could put them School of Journalism, Romanska’s morning Heading into the 2020-21 school year, Ali [the trainees] together and make that same routine was rewarding her in new ways: instead Ghazanfari was poised to pursue his Master money in one hour. But as a coach, as some- of hitting the ice, she was researching and inof Business Administration degree at Ryer- body that wants their players to improve, it terviewing, looking after her chocolate poodle son while also looking forward to his fifth doesn’t make sense to me.” puppy and pedalling on her new spin bike. year as a goalkeeper for the Rams men’s socRomanska said that during the isolation Ghazanfari separated the trainees based on cer team. quality and gave them two separate sessions. of the pandemic, journalism has given her a In the 2019-20 season, he was at the height “You get the competitive side that you can chance to connect with others. of his soccer career, being named an OUA only achieve when you have a few goalies. “It’s great to see people interacting, appreciFirst-Team All-Star and receiving multiple Once you raise the competitiveness, you get ating or criticizing. It’s all part of the job to get Stars of the Week awards at Ryerson. people’s feedback and grow from it,” she said. better quality.” So when the pandemic brought competitive Larkin was proud, but not surprised, by Ideally, Clean Sheet Goalkeeping Acadsoccer to a halt, Ghazanfari readied himself to emy would transition the operations indoor her friend’s motivation to tell stories. “She’s refocus his drive into his next love: coaching. throughout the winter months. However, very positive. I come from England so I have “In life, you play to your strengths. My they acknowledge COVID-19’s restraints on always asked her about things,” Larkin said. strengths are getting across to people well, get- the business. Ghazanfari said he contacted fa- “She could tell like a million stories in one.” ting the best out of them,” he said. Ghazanfari cilities to no avail: no one is open. Romanska continues to unmask hidden anhas been coaching since he was 17 years old. Ghazanfari, in the North York region, and ecdotes and evidence about Toronto’s neighIn the early summer months of 2020, Gha- Doslo, in Etobicoke, are strategizing growth bourhoods, and sprinkles some news stories zanfari was informally training a few students by continuing to build markets in different re- in too. She’s well aware that journalism is a on the weekends when he got a call from a gions. Ghazanfari cites the Hangar, a sprawl- shrinking industry and the importance of defriend, Ryerson alumni goalkeeper and entre- ing multi-sports complex in North York, as a livering quality content is tantamount. preneurial spirit, Djordje Doslo. “I have to be extra cautious that I’m factmiddle ground when venues eventually reopen. Doslo said he initially reached out to GhazaLike so many businesses, until normalcy checking everything and making sure what nfari for advice on how to “properly coach”— returns, Clean Sheet is at the mercy of the I’m putting out is providing value to people,” he had a couple of willing students that he was pandemic and its restrictions. For Ghazanfari Romanska explained. hoping to work with. Despite a list of injuries–including foot though, he isn’t in this for the money that the fractures, concussions, torn knee ligaments pandemic may be costing them. “This is a passion project. If it ends up making and a dislocated shoulder and jaw–sustained “This is a passion project” me a lot of money, great. If not, I’m still doing it.” on the ice, you can still find Romanska at local skating rinks landing triple axels with convicThe spirited phonecall soon snowballed Anastasiya Romanska tion. Her perseverance starts on the ice but into an idea. Ghazanfari and Doslo channeled In the 2019-20 season skating for the Rams, permeates into every other aspect of her life. their goalkeeping skills, business acumen and Anastasiya Romanska would go to 6 a.m. “Skating taught me acknowledging privicoaching passion to officially launch Clean practices four days a week in preparation for lege and getting up when you fall down, Sheet Goalkeeper Academy. which shaped me not only as a journalist but the OUA figure skating championships. Ghazanfari and Doslo’s experience at RyerThe championships were held on home ice as a person,” Romanska said. “There’s a certain son prepared them to not only train players, last February, which meant something extra pressure that comes with the sport because you but to propel a business as well. special for Romanska and her teammates. “I’ve are the only person responsible for your out“Being a goalkeeper, you have to be vocal skated in a lot of rinks and Mattamy [Athletic come. All eyes are on you.” and organize the team. In business, you need Centre] is my favourite. Last year was such an Although both Ghazanfari and Romanska’s to learn how to organize your business, take amazing year,” Romanska said. competitive athletic careers may be on hiatus, direction and give direction,” said Doslo. “It Isabella Larkin, a friend of Romanska and what they learned in their respective sports is goes hand in hand.” last season’s co-captain, remembered: “[Ro- only beginning to help them as they transfer Ghazanfari’s business model addressed a manska] was in three events. She had a lot go- into a new stage of life. PHOTO: CHRISTIAN BENDER
sports stories of 2020 By Will Baldwin It’s impossible to talk about the year of 2020 in sports without acknowledging COVID-19. The pandemic cost athletes many of the U Sports 2020 national championships and the entire fall season. However, before sports were brought to an indefinite halt, the Ryerson Rams saw some shining moments. Here’s a recap of the top five Rams sports stories of 2020. Rams receive All-Canadian Honours Ryerson athletes of the year Xander Ketrzynski and Cailin Wark each represented Ryerson’s volleyball teams as AllCanadians. Ketrzynski, to his credit, earned the honour for the second year in a row. Meanwhile, Wark joined Ryerson women’s volleyball legend Theanna Vernon as the Ram’s only women’s volleyball players to be named All-Canadians. Joining them as an All-Canadian Ram was men’s basketball star Tevaun Kokko, marking the sixth straight year the Rams men’s basketball program has produced an All-Candian. Women’s hockey makes history For a program less than 10 years old, 2020 was a big step for Ryerson’s women’s hockey program. The team made its first conference semi-finals in its young history and was an overtime away—in the third and deciding game nonetheless—from being the first Ryerson hockey team to reach the OUA Final. Though it hurt to lose to rival University of Toronto, it’s hard not to be excited about the future of this program. Women’s basketball makes it to the OUA finals For the first time since 2016, when they joined men’s basketball on the same night as the first conference champions in Ryerson history, the women’s basketball team made it back to the Critelli Cup finals. However, the result wasn’t in the Ram’s favour this time around as they would lose to Brock at home. Regardless, for a team afflicted with injuries to some of its best players, an OUA championship game appearance and U Sports Final 8 bid was quite the season. Fencing and figure skating combine for three medals Joining women’s basketball as OUA medallists in 2020 was the women’s fencing’s epee relay team, men’s fencing’s Ethan Haines and figure skating’s Kaitlyn Wilson. Wilson took OUA gold in the Star 10 Singles Freeskate for the second straight season while Haines won silver in the individual foil event. All three of the teams enjoyed solid finishes in total and will look to build on their growing success when competition resumes. Dave DeAveiro named men’s basketball head coach After an exceptional career at McGill, Dave DeAveiro was hired in the spring to lead Ryerson’s men’s basketball program. 2020 saw the Rams miss the U Sports men’s basketball Final 8 for the first time in five years, something DeAveiro will be looking to change in his first season leading Ryerson.
FUN & SATIRE
RSU releasing break-up album inspired by split from Rye Learning Centre” and Eggy holding a bazooka. After two hours, Yousaf motioned to table the discussion until the next BoD, worried the executive would cut into its allocated four hours in camera reserved for “legal discussions” and “definitely not playing Animal Crossings until The Eye’s news editors give up.” Though the album cover is still in the editing stage, the popular favourite is a black and white photo of the RSU logo with the Reputation album’s signature gothic font. Other options are a retro recreation of the Rumours album cover by Fleetwood Mac or a dramatic vignetted close-up photo of the RSU executive team crying. ILLUSTRATION: LAILA AMER By Merida Moffat A year after Ryerson said a premature goodbye to the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU), the troubled group is cooking up a wild idea that will bring them some sweet, sweet revenge. “Goodbye Taylor Swift, you’re old news— get ready for Reputation: RSU style. We’re releasing an official breakup album inspired by Taylor Swift’s iconic revenge-wreaking era,” read an RSU press release. The Eyeopener was granted exclusive insider access into the development process of the untitled album. So far, we know that several songs have been planned, although no actual lyrics have been written yet. Some of the Taylor Swift inspired song titles include: “Look What You Caught Us Doing,” “Endgame (ft. TRSM Hypebeast & Engineering Mizzogynist),” “We Did Something Sketchy,” and “This is Why the RSU Can’t Have Nice Things.” Vice-president operations Liora Dubinsky said the RSU will employ a dark pop songwriting style with influences of hip-hop and electronic dance music. The lyrical themes will focus on revenge and heartbreak. She added that the RSU is “hoping to make
a groundbreaking album about how we’re victims of the unjust court of public opinion.” Vice-president student life and events Usama Sheikh created a Pinterest board with ideas for the album aesthetic (a job that usually would’ve gone to the full-time graphic designer, had this position not been terminated). He described it as “modern day rich vibes meets femme fatale from the Golden Age of Hollywood, with a dash of 2015 Tumblr melancholy.” At the last Board of Directors (BoD) meeting, executives discussed a potential music video.
“It feels a bit unproductive to blow the RSU’s budget on this” “It would be so cool if we did a montage of some of our favourite Ryerson campus locations in black and white, overlaid with a clipart broken heart to show our misery,” said RSU president Ali Yousaf. However, other executives disagreed. Dubinsky passionately argued for an homage to Taylor Swift in “Bad Blood,” which would include members “CGI blowing up the Student
“[The vision is] modern day rich vibes meets femme fatale from the Golden Age of Hollywood, with a dash of 2015 Tumblr melancholy” A huge point of speculation is what the album title will be. Options include Breakup, Jan. 24, (which marks the date the RSU agreement was terminated) and Yousaf’s Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, an ironic nod to Swift’s nemesis and Yousaf’s “musical guide.” Second-year business student and full-time rapper Yung Dundas said he had very strong feelings about the album announcement. “I’m a huge Swiftie, but it feels a bit unproductive to blow the RSU’s budget on this,” he said. “And that’s coming from someone who paid several thousands of dollars for a turntable that Skrillex once vomited on.” The word is still out on how the RSU is going to pay for the album production, though some experts speculate that the funds could magically materialize, similar to the $350,000 in unallocated funds that suddenly appeared on the agenda of the Nov. 25 BoD. The real question is: will you stream it or skip it?
Professor “making course fun” can’t sense resentment By Ruisi Liu There are some forces of nature so strong that even a pandemic cannot stop them in their tracks. Chief among these forces are cheesy, dad-joke-making professors. On my first day of the winter semester, I opened the Zoom link for ENG 305 with Richard Rolls. Fifty people were already there, but nobody had their camera on. “Rolls didn’t realize he was sharing his screen,” said Jao Saetang, a first-year English student. “He was scrolling through a Yahoo! Answers page called ‘How to get your students to like you.’ He was incredibly focused.”
“Why did Rolls feel the need to be liked?” Saetang was right. Professor Rolls, with his rimless glasses and Bob Ross-esque hairdo, seemed lost in his own world. It made me wonder: why did Rolls feel the need to be liked? It wasn’t until somebody unmuted and coughed that the professor was startled to attention. “Woah there, hold your horses! Did I just
hear a cough? Well, I should say, hold your HOARSES!” professor Rolls said, grinning at the camera. You could’ve heard a pin drop— mostly because all 50 students were on mute. “I assume some of you don’t have webcams. Back in my day, if COVID-19 were to happen, we’d have to wear hazmat suits from Breaking Bad to go to school. That’s pretty METHED up. Get it? Messed up. Call me Breaking Dad.” His jokes were followed by a beaming smile and a minute of silence. It was so excruciating that I couldn’t look at his face; instead, I stared at the Homer Simpson clock on his shelf. Even with cameras off, I could feel 50 bodies collectively cringing as he held his smile. Suddenly, the silence was broken by a shatter. “Sorry,” said the student, Mikayla Bronsen. “I spilled my milk.” “Well MILKayla, you’re not gonna cry about spilled milk, are ya? I wish I could CRACK a better joke than that, but no-way-milky-way! Or we’ll be UDDERly behind schedule.” After presenting a few slides about “LIT-erature,” his cellphone rang. His ringtone was the Alvin and the Chipmunks’ cover of “Mistletoe” by Justin Bieber. “Sorry class, my UberEats is here,” he
grumbled in glitched-out words. When he came back with his Osmow’s shawarma in-hand, we all listened as he ate it on screen, his lips smacking into his headset microphone.
“That’s pretty methed up. Get it? Messed up. Call me Breaking Dad” “What? It’s delicious,” Rolls said, nonchalantly. “I heard your generation likes ASMR mukbangs. I had to surf the Urban Dictionary to find out what that means. I ought to make this go viral. Hey, can someone record me? Oh, hold on—” Rolls turned on the Zoom’s screen recording option. “Perfect! Let’s begin!” he said. After class, I tried to reach out to Rolls for comment, but it went straight to voicemail: “Howdy, can’t reach you at the moment, so leave your message after the song.” I was left with: “Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down…” I had been Rickrolled by Rich Rolls.
Quiz: Do you need that exclamation mark?! By Apurba Roy Exclamation marks: believe it or not, you don’t need to use them at the end of every sentence to sound like you’re in a perpetual state of preppy excitement. Take this quiz to find out if you really need that exclamation mark. Who are you messaging? (a) A professor, so I need to sound perky writing about a class I only took because Reddit said it was a bird course. (b) A friend who I don’t know well enough to use my quirky range of emojis and all caps texts. (c) A potential life partner who needs to think that I’m excited about eating Swiss Chalet with them over FaceTime. How intimidating is the recipient? (a) I cannot look this person in the eye without shaking. (b) They still send weekly tweets to HBO about how bad the Game of Thrones finale was, even though it aired almost two years ago. (c) They post a daily Instagram Reels vlog where they review nursery rhymes. How intimidating are you? (a) I hard block anyone who doesn’t view my Instagram story. (b) I think I’m really tough but I regularly strain my eyes watching cat videos at 2 a.m. (c) Everyone knows that I cried watching Little Women. How serious is this message? (a) It’s a genuine request, written politely so that the recipient doesn’t think I’m an uncourteous Gen Z. (b) Irrelevant enough to be flagged as spam mail. (c) Not important, but if I don’t get an reply I will call myself a failure in front of the mirror and eat several pints of ice cream. On your keyboard, what does the exclamation point symbol look like? (a) The mark is more pigmented than a Fenty highlighter. (b) It’s so worn out that I can barely see it. The only reason I know where it is is because of muscle memory. (c) I pressed it so much that the key came off. Now, I Google “exclamation mark” and copy and paste it into my emails whenever I need it. As a result the command, C and V keys are on their last legs. Mostly (a)s: You need that exclamation mark! Your recipient will appreciate your non-threatening tone. Mostly (b)s: You don’t need it. You’re close to sounding like a kindergartner who recently learned basic punctuation. Mostly (c)s: STOP USING THAT EXCLAMATION MARK! Trust me, you don’t have to soften your tone; the recipient knows you’re a complete softie who isn’t actually that excited. Aren’t you tired?