Community should be top priority for universities

The Ryerson Theatre School will soon be moving from its current 44 Gerrard St. location. (Aengus Mulroney / Ryersonian Staff)

The Ryerson Theatre School has moved from thet 44 Gerrard St. location. (Aengus Mulroney)

The Ryerson Theatre School building has performed its final act.

As of last week, 44 Gerrard St. is no longer the place for students to study theatre, dance and production.

Instead, it is getting transformed into the Centre for Urban Innovation, which will house various research groups, such as Ryerson Urban Water, the Centre for Urban Energy, the Data Science Laboratory and the Food Research Lab.

A space of about 17,400 square feet has been designated to the theatre school in the Student Learning Centre (SLC). Certainly in terms of square footage, that’s a lot of space and the new facilities will be a big upgrade for RTS students.

But this doesn’t necessarily make up for what is lost.

The building on Gerrard didn’t just give students a place to learn; it gave them a place to meet, collaborate and socialize. Most importantly, it gave them a sense of community, and in university this is critical.

One daunting aspect of transitioning from high school to university is going from being one of hundreds of students, to being one of thousands of students.

Sometimes this can make people feel like university is impersonal and that they are nothing more than a student number.

But when students have a place on campus that is constant and familiar, it can help them to feel like they belong somewhere.

Ryerson has made some great efforts to create this sense of community, because it has places for like-minded students with shared interests to meet and socialize.

For example, buildings like the Rogers Communications Centre (RCC) have lounges where students can go to talk and complete their homework.

The SLC has collaborative and group work rooms, the Beach, which is an open study area that is filled with seating, and the Launch Zone, a space for students who are interested in entrepreneurship.

In addition to all of this, there are also restaurants and bars, such as the Ram in the Rye and Oakham Café, where students can meet to talk about their days or watch the latest baseball game.

But it is important for Ryerson to continue to prioritize this sense of community. School is about more than what happens in the classroom; it’s about networking, new experiences and personal growth.

So here’s hoping that the SLC can foster the same sense of intimacy and camaraderie that the old theatre building did. We have our fingers crossed.


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