‘I don’t believe this is the finish to the year that anyone has wanted’
Maija Shea had already packed her bags, expecting the worst.
For the first-year student and Pitman Hall resident, “the worst” happened late Tuesday afternoon, when Ryerson said that she, along with everyone else living in three campus residences, would have to vacate their rooms.
“It’s moving so fast, and it’s really frustrating trying to keep up with updates from housing and my five other classes,” Shea said during an interview Wednesday. “At first all of the services were staying open and in just four days, we are forced to leave unless we apply to one of the exceptions listed in the email.”
Students living in three campus residences will have until Monday, March 23 to move out, following an order from the university. It was the latest in a number of steps taken by Ryerson, which have effectively closed the campus, and it came just after the province declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19.
Students living in Pitman Hall, the Daphne Cockwell Complex and The International Living/Learning Centre were sent an email Tuesday evening saying they are required to move out of residence. The order excludes those with exceptional circumstances, such as international and out-of-province students.
Ryerson plans to offer refunds for residence and meal plans if students fill out a withdrawal form and move out by 5 p.m. on March 23.
Shea said that she is an anxious person naturally and it is very hard to stay positive through this experience. “I need a moment to breathe but I have to keep pushing,” she said. “I’m mentally exhausted and already stressed out by having to move back and forth from here to my family in Milton, where I will be living with four other people.”
First-year Ryerson journalism student Breanna Schnurr was living in Pitman Hall and had just moved back home this week because of COVID-19. Schnurr said that since the university suspended classes, on-campus residents have been getting updates regarding changes to dining hall hours, the change from in-house dining to take-out containers and, most recently, that all students must move out.
“I’m lucky enough that my hometown is an hour and a half away,” said Schnurr. “I think Ryerson tried their best to keep things running as smoothly as possible, and they recognize that there are many students who rely on staying in residence until the end of the year. It’s a completely new situation that everyone is trying to navigate.”
First-year student Molly Cone, from Saskatchewan, won’t be returning home for a while, but has family in Ontario she is going to stay with.
“I understand that housing and residence life cares most about our safety, thus their decision. I am hopeful that international students, out-of-province students and those who are just unable to find a place to stay are assisted and can find safety as soon as possible,” Cone said.
“I don’t believe this is the finish to the year that anyone has wanted, those in and out of residence alike. However, it is comforting knowing that the Ryerson community is still looking out for the interest of their students.”
As for Shea, she acknowledges that she’s lucky that her family live only a few towns away. But she said it will still be difficult for her family to drive up to help her move out while they are supposed to be staying home.
“We are also currently only allowed one guest per day at this point, so it will be a struggle for just me and my mom to get all of my belongings downstairs to the car by myself,” she said.
“On move-in day, one of the sports teams had their athletes help students carry their things to their floor. Now, we have to figure it out ourselves when we are already afraid.”