Protesters’ encampment draws criticism after photos reveal abandoned tent city

Protesters set up camp outside Jorgensen Hall Monday, calling for the university to freeze tuition fees. (Marija Petrovic / Ryersonian Staff)

Protesters set up camp outside Jorgensen Hall Monday, calling for the university to freeze tuition fees. (Marija Petrovic / Ryersonian Staff)

An impromptu tent city erected by student protesters on Ryerson’s campus has elicited criticism after a student passing the encampment late at night snapped a photo of some of the encampment’s inhabitants sitting indoors.

Protesters set up camp near Jorgensen Hall and Kerr Hall West Monday.

A spokesman for the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU), whose executive team is among the tent city’s residents, maintains the protesters slept in the tents, adding that they will continue their protests until Ryerson’s administration meets their demands: freezing tuition fees, lowering fees paid by international students and providing the RSU with documents related to the university’s budget.

Protesters camped out inside Jorgensen Hall Tuesday night. (Courtesy Noah Parker)

Protesters camped out inside Jorgensen Hall Tuesday night. (Courtesy Noah Parker)

“This is my first time hearing about [the photos], to be fair, and it’s not true,” Jesse Root, the RSU’s vice-president of education, said. “Some folks spent a little bit of time inside the building while they were on their hour and a half shifts, keeping watch. But sleeping time was spent in the tent.”

He said that at the time the photo in question was taken the RSU was holding their nightly meeting inside the lobby of the building.

Ryerson student Noah Parker was walking home from class Monday night when he passed the tents.

He says some protesters were in Kerr Hall West.

“They were all huddled inside the stairwell of Kerr Hall. It was weird, because there was nobody in the tents,” he said.

Parker quickly snapped two photos of the empty tents on his phone and shared the images on Facebook and Twitter. The photo quickly got attention from students on social media, gaining nearly 200 likes so far.

As part of their Freeze the Fees campaign, RSU executives and other protesters are camping outside Jorgensen Hall this week.

Root said that the rally and protest has received “positive feedback from students overall.”

He said that much of his day is spent in the tent – aside from showers, working during the morning, speaking to classes on the protests and handing out leaflets.

Root said he was in a tent from midnight on Monday night to Tuesday at 6 .a.m, adding that he was out of his tent for his shift from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Tuesday, taking a turn at watching over  the tent city.

“There were about ten of us out filling the tents,” Root added. “I spent the whole night in my tent.”

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