Thursday, July 29, 2010

Getting to Campus

Guess what? School is starting in just over a month! Crazy right? Like many of you, I feel like summer just started and I can't beleive we are almost in August. So, I thought it was about time to start talking about the basics of campus life- how are you getting here?!

Ryerson is unique in that a large majority of our students commute from across the entire GTA- from neighborhoods in Scarborough, North York, Etobicoke, Richmond Hill, Missisauga and many more. There are over 5000 students living off campus in first year alone! If you're a first year and living off campus, scroll down to find out about the ROLL program.

As someone whose used many different methods of getting to campus over the years due to a few moves (first year- walking, second year-TTC, third year- biking), I have a good feeling of some of the advantages and disadvantages to each- so let me grace you with my wise words as I list some +'s and -'s for each mode of transportation to campus.

+environmentally friendly
+good for your body
-exposed to the weather, rain or shine
-slowest method of transportation

+Free (other than cost of bike)
+environmentally friendly
+ good for your body
+bike room storage on campus (for 10$ a month call 416-979-5008 if interested)
+many bike racks on campus
-can be unsafe/dangerous on the busy streets of Toronto
-exposed to all weather conditions


+Fast (depending on traffic!)
+Sheltered from weather conditions
-expensive (gas and parking!)
-harmful to the environment
-limited parking on campus

Public Transportation
+available for everyone in the GTA
+shelter from weather conditions
-you have to wait, and wait...and wait
-crowds at rush hour
-expensive on a student budget

Take the poll to let us know how you get to campus, and we'll which method of transportation takes the #1 spot!
How do you get to campus?
Public Transportation
Other free polls
If you are an incoming first year, and are living off campus, check out this link for the ROLLS (Ryerson Off Campus Living Links) to get connected to the student leaders in your area as well as off-campus commuters in your area!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

BS vs ASB and ACS....The True Story of a Life Lesson

Hey guys and gals!

Check out this truly inspiring guest blog post from our friend Dani Dye, a fourth year ACS student in the global studies stream and a leader of the ASB programme. Dani was part of a small group of students with ASB who spent a month volunteering their time in Kenya this summer. She has taken the time to share her experience with us, and also does ACS students proud by taking what we learn in the classroom to the real world to critically assess her impact and "international development" in general.

My name is Dani. I am an ACS student and one of two leaders for the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) programme here at Ryerson which has not only helped shape my university career but has become a driving force in who I am as a person, an ACS student, a daughter, a leader, a citizen of this get the point. In proper ACS fashion I have been trained to be critical and careful about all things in life including assessing the type of impact a student group such as this can have on community development abroad. ACS also thought me to be open to the life lessons that unfold in front of me and to reflect on all things in...well...“life”. This past May ASB traveled to Kenya for a month long project. While there these two aspects of my ACS schooling came crashing together as I was forced to re-evaluate my philosophy on development, volunteerism and the affect students from Canada can have on people’s lives abroad, at here at home and on each other.

I have been part of ASB for almost two years now. This was my third time volunteering in a group, my second leading experience and my second (but certainly not my last) time in Kenya. Kenya is a country of contrast and continues to teach me things about the world that cannot be verbalized within a classroom or in a textbook, which waaaas the whole point behind ASB. Our goal: learn. Our expectations: have none. How could a student group from Canada possibly change lives or have an impact on a community that faces challenges that are almost impossible for us to comprehend? I had up until now truly believed that international development was...well...”bull shit” one of my previous ASB blog entries was entitled. Part of me still does believe that MOST of the “international development” out there is bullshit, if it weren’t, people in the business would be...out it if! Bullshit here by the way is being defined as Harry Frankfurt did in his essay On Bullshit as an indifference to the truth where the speaker or doer attempts to impress or persuade their audience based on nothing but...bullshit or a complete lack of care for what is in reality....truth. I relate this to “international development” (...please note the inverted quotations...) via the fact that so many good-doers travel abroad truly believing they are “changing the world” or people’s lives or communities without any care for what they are actually doing or what the realities on the ground are; often emplacing western systems of “development” and expecting them to work in a place where historical and cultural realities are not taken into consideration...[end rant].

Every time an ASB team goes abroad we make it very clear that this is NOT what we are doing, our work is symbolic at best as we are traveling with a purpose and we are there to learn...and learn we did. What I learned was...the truth is...a student group from Canada CAN change lives and foster community development in ways I NEVER thought possible. Right here is where many would place a laundry list of the physical work we did and tangible structures we left. I will not. Instead I will tell you that the exchange that took place during that month cannot be quantified because it is neither finite nor measurable...nor was it ever expected...the not expected part being a critical contribution to its success. Deep roots of cross cultural relationships that continue to benefit this community based organization were planted and continue to have a positive impact. Young girls were empowered and motivated by learning that we had women on our team that were journalists, a career in Kenya that is dominated by men. Young children were inspired to learn when taught by young, enthusiastic rapping Ryerson students....some finding a new passion and expression through art. Women in the village realized that they too can climb up on a ladder and paint...if we “mzungu” women can...why NOT them? One young woman that showed endless potential will now move onto high school thanks to the connection she shared with two of our ASB members. A women's group that does more for their community in a week than most North Americans will do in a life time got new equipment to help them raise money for their group that in turn will help develop their own community initiatives. One ASB member came home with an invigorated need to get involved in his own community; he is now seeking employment in community outreach programmes within Toronto taking his lessons from Kenyan community unity and applying them here at home...this list could continue for pages…but I digress...

Our team also taught each other. Living with 13 other people for a month is a challenge at best. Adversity is plenty, personalities clash, work ethics differ, expectations of living standards vary...but through all this we learned to LISTEN, to be open, to learn from each other and to find that common thread that would hold it all together and THAT was a belief in what we were there to do....which turned out not only be to learn, but to teach, to inspire, to educate, to change: to change ourselves, each other, and others. It IS possible to change the world, to change lives, to help others and to facilitate community just can’t expect to...because THAT would be bullshit.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lounges, and Labs, and Offices, Oh My!

That's right folks, in this post I'm going to show you all the places I wish I was savy to in first year. This post is not only for incoming students, because some of you upper year students still may not know about these hot spots on campus for faculty of arts students!

The Arts Lounge: POD 349
This is a multi-use space that is specifically for Faculty of Arts students. There are couches, desks, tables and chairs, chalk boards, and bulletin boards for each course union to use however they please. Faculty of Arts students use this space in many ways- for group study and group projects, to eat lunch, to hang out between class, to hold meetings, or to catch up on readings!

p.s. Something to keep in mind is that student leaders are working on a proposal to secure funding to remodel to Arts Lounge with some much needed new furniture!

The Arts Lab: POD 356

The arts lab is also located on the third floor of Podium and is a computer lab just for arts students. Since the computers on the first floor of the library can fill up fast, the Arts Lab is a great resource for arts students to work on essays, do research or check email between classes. The best part about the Arts Lab- FREE PRINTING. you heard me.

note: the arts lab is closed for the summer, so I can't show you the inside!
p.s. If you're an incomming student and don't know how to sign in to the computers in the Arts Lab, it's simple- your user name is the first part of your Ryerson email (ex. jsmith, or john.smith) and your password is your student number, once you sign in with this informaiton you will be prompted to set up a new password.

The Student Experience Centre: POD 344

This is located on the third floor of Podium and it is the centre for all support staff for faculty of Arts students. The awesome folk in the student experience centre work to ensure you have a great experience in university, both inside and outside the classroom. Here you will find our very own student life coordinator who works with student leaders to help foster community within the faculty of arts, our community liason who facilitates the experiential learning program and assists students going on exhanges, as well as two counsellors: a career counsellor and a personal counselor. Don't be shy to take advantage of all these great resources!

Black, Comfy Chairs
Most Ryerson students know exactly what you mean when you say "Meet me at the black comfy chairs" They are located on both the first and second floors of the Library building (by the starbucks, and by the cafeteria). Upon your first visit to Ryerson you probably noticed the black comfy chairs or maybe you even tested them out! This is my personal favorite hangout, whether I'm meeting up with friends, having lunch or doing readings! What's great about them is that they're just big enough to fit two people to snuggle up to your gf, bf, or bff!

Warning: while great to share with a close friend or loved one, do not attempt to share with someone you hardly know- this will make for an awkward experience!

The quad is the grassy area located in the middle of Kerr Hall, and is also a personal favorite hangout spot! Students use this spot to play sports, read, eat, hangout and catch some sun! When you're in the Quad, it doesn't even feel like you're downtown Toronto, it's a nice mini-getaway from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets.

Take advantage of the quad while the weather is still nice, mark my words,you'll be missing it by november!