About 122 students are still living in residence after the March 23 move-out deadline
Students remaining in Ryerson’s residences are adjusting to changes and working to secure housing for when leases end in late April.
Students were ordered to leave Ryerson’s residence buildings by March 23 to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The few who remain are primarily international or out-of-province students with exceptional circumstances that prevented them from leaving.
Brian Tran, a communications and media relations specialist with Ryerson, said the university has implemented measures to stop the spread of disease, such as a no-guest policy, increased cleaning measures and a phone line for students who are experiencing flu-like symptoms. Tran said the phone line will “ensure that they are connected to the appropriate campus and community resources.”
Tess Stuber, a second-year journalism student and vice-president of Pitman Hall, is still living in the building. Stuber is an international student from Ohio and was allowed to stay due to concerns about the risk of travelling home.
She said that after the majority of students moved out, those remaining in the International Living/Learning Centre (ILLC) were moved into Pitman Hall. Students living in shared rooms in Pitman Hall or the Daphne Cockwell Complex (DCC) have been put into single living areas. Common areas in all buildings — including communal kitchens — have either been locked or deemed off-limits.
Food services have also been amended to reduce contact. Students choose their meals online at the beginning of the week and pick up takeout containers in the Pitman Hall cafeteria at an allotted time. “When you go to pick up the food, you’re kind of forced to stand next to other people. So in that case, I’m glad that they reduced the amount of people here,” said Stuber.
She said she wishes there was more transparency and communication about best practices for those still living in residence. Stuber said there are no guidelines for elevator use and that questions are not always answered in a timely or actionable way. “It seems a little odd to me that they would kick everybody out and say it’s because they want to do social distancing, but then sort of just leave us on our own here to figure it out,” she said.
Yara Abu Hejleh, a first-year business management student and DCC resident, said that she contacted the Housing and Residence office in early March to ask if the closing of residence was a possibility. She said she was concerned about having a place to stay if both the borders of Qatar, her home country, and the residence were to close. She said she did not hear back until after students were asked to move out of residence.
“I tried to take matters into my own hands but didn’t get a response fast enough to act,” said Abu Hejleh. She was granted an exemption to continue living in residence and said she was told that staying in residence during the summer is an option, but she would need to move to Pitman Hall.
Stuber said that since most students moved out, Pitman Hall has become eerily quiet. “I wanted to live in residence because I love being surrounded by people,” she said. “Now, I feel like I’m living in a ghost town.”
Tran said that the count of 122 students still in residence does not include those in HOEM, an off-campus building. He said the decision is not at Ryerson’s discretion as the building is owned by Canadian Student Communities Inc. — a real estate developer that specializes in student housing.
Tanmay Bishnoi, a first-year electrical engineering student and HOEM resident, said many HOEM residents decided to move out even though they were not required to. He said that students with 12-month leases have been given the option to sublet their rooms.