‘We’re suffering’: Grad students work without heat in Monetary Times

Graduate students have worked without heat in an office in Ryerson’s Monetary Times building for four months. Photo courtesy of Ryerson

Students who work in MON 418, the graduate studies office in Ryerson’s Monetary Times building (Civil Engineering Building), have been working without heat all winter long.

First noticing the cold in late November, PhD student and teaching assistant Kevin Zhang sent his first complaint about the lack of heating in his office to the building’s technical lead hand officer 121 days ago. A number of complaints from him and his co-workers have followed, he said.

An email sent to Zhang in January from facilities said efforts had been made to fix the heating system, with requests being sent to an HVAC mechanic and supervisor. But their room still remained without heat.

“We’re suffering … We’re in here for a quite a few hours. After the first 30 minutes, you start to feel (the cold). It’s distracting, you can’t work. And then there’s the anger at facilities for how long it’s gone on,” Zhang said.

“At this point, I think facilities is like, ‘It’ll be spring and then they’ll stop complaining.’ For us, it’s a matter of principle to get this fixed.”

Ryerson international student and teaching assistant Tarek Ghazal recently arrived in Canada and works in the office. Originally from Egypt, Ghazal said he is not used to the Canadian climate and that he did not expect to deal with the cold indoors as well.

“I expected that all the offices would be heated and when I arrived, they said, ‘No, the heating is not working.’ Back home, the temperature in the winter is 16 (degrees). When I arrived here, it was -10 and -15 (degrees). I’m not used to the cold. So I asked the guys and they said, ‘Unfortunately, everyone has to buy their own heaters because the heating is not working.’

While others in the office have bought personal space heaters, Ghazal said he cannot.

“I just arrived and I’m an international student and to be honest, I can’t afford to buy a heater. The fact is … I’m freezing.”

This week, the students began a daily email campaign to push the school to fix the heating system.

“We’re just starting our campaign to send emails to facilities, so that we can’t be ignored or at least we’re annoying, so that they have to do something,” Zhang said.

Neither Ryerson’s department of facilities management and development nor the department of public affairs responded in time for publication.

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