The Ram in the Rye was abuzz on the first day of school, with groups big and small cheers-ing their way into the new semester. As I was taking in my surroundings, it dawned on me that something was different about the campus watering hole.
The chairs are new, there’s a fresh coat of paint and there’re now beautifully stained wood panels lining some of the walls. While blissfully observing this, a friend across the table exclaims “No! They raised the prices!”
I looked at the menu to find that they have indeed done so. Unfortunate, yes, but it’s only by one or two dollars at most. Many prices stayed the same and some even went down, but we chose to ignore that. As students, we are notoriously frugal, but we seldom remember to put value in our setting.
Throughout the evening, I heard grumblings about this and I got progressively more annoyed. Instead of whining about that extra dollar or two, why don’t we talk about how fantastic this bar now looks? Before, it was a rundown, somewhat shabby looking spot that you weren’t necessarily proud of. There were wobbly chairs, bad paint jobs and beer-soaked banquettes.
The new space is somewhere you actually want to be.
Students are drawn to the campus pub for its social element. You bump into people you know, get to meet students from other programs or share laughs in the bathroom (at least us ladies do). Price is often a factor when deciding where to go, but it’s not the leading factor. You need somewhere you’ll feel comfortable — and that’s at the Ram.
That is where students go after a rough day of class. That is where students celebrate a varsity win. And that is where students can meet lifelong friends.
Mike Verticchio, the general manager of the Student Campus Centre that owns the pub, said the overall goal is “to be the centre of student life on campus, while providing affordable and discounted food.”
As explained by Verticchio, the Ram Burger, which is made from hormone and antibiotic free beef, is $7.99, compared to a neighbourhood competitor who charges $12 for a hamburger that could be filled with hormones and antibiotics. The Ram charges $6.25 for one pound of wings, compared to $12 at Jack Astor’s. Even with the updated price list, a pitcher of beer on campus is still less than one at the nearby Imperial Pub or Lou Dawg’s.
If the couple of extra dollars really grinds your gears, go somewhere else. We study in the middle of downtown Toronto; you have plenty of other options. Do remember, though, that no matter where you go, you won’t be spending any less.
Granted, it would have been great to see prices stay the same. As students, we do throw a lot of money at the university and this may seem like yet another ploy to take more.
Some would argue that affordability is more important than esthetics, but the Ram’s new prices still cater to our demographic. That argument is also missing the point of having a campus pub.
The comfort found in the laughs permeating the walls of the Ram is invaluable. You’re surrounded by your fellow students in an unpretentious, welcoming space in the centre of campus.
I’m almost certain that when it comes time to pay, you’ll be so distracted by the good times, you’ll barely notice the difference.
This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on Sept. 10, 2014.