Here at Ryerson, there are a number of ways for students to get involved on campus. There’s a number of recreational and competitive athletic teams to join, as well as student associations, and course unions for just about every program at Ryerson. It’s possible for anyone to find an organization that captures their interest. One of the student initiatives that caught my attention is the Ryerson student-run newspaper, The Eyeopener. The newspaper is published weekly and the organization is run completely by students. The paper focuses on informing students of university and campus news, as well as representing aspects of student life. I wanted to know more about The Eye, so I sat down with the business and technology editor, Nathaniel Crouch, to learn more.
Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself!
A: My name is Nathaniel Crouch, I am the business and technology editor here at The Eyeopener. I’ve lived all over Canada but I was born in Vancouver. My program is Environment and Urban Sustainability.
What is The Eyeopener?
Our official title is Ryerson’s independent student newspaper, which essentially means we are slightly detached from the university, but we are a newspaper that keeps them honest and keeps the institutions and stakeholders that occupy Ryerson honest because we also run stories about them. We’re made up completely of students, everyone you see here is a student apart from our general manager, design manager and advertising manager, so everyone from the editor in chief, to our photographer, photography team, to the business and tech editor (which is myself), to fun and satire, we’re all students. The Eyeopener is just a collection of student editors, student photographers, student filmers, and student volunteers who help us write their stories.
What is your favourite part or section of the paper?
Oh man… I am very biased about this question… I’m biased because last year I was the fun and satire section editor and satire will always hold a special place in my heart. When running a bunch of really good news stories, which we do often, like we broke the bed bug scandal, the credit card scandal, a bunch of things we’ve broke as a collective news team. The news team is obviously super important and everything is part of its well-oiled machine. The ability to poke fun about what’s happening at Ryerson is something that really gets students caught up in reading our stories, so I always adore seeing real-life news pieces turned into satire, then eventually people will go back and read the actual news to figure out what happened and then laugh along with the jokes we made about it. I don’t know if it’s the most important one, but definitely it’s the best one that’s always very attention-grabbing and very nice and fun to read. I know people always turn to the back and read the fun section, so yeah, I’d say fun and satire.
That’s my favourite part too!
It’s always a fan favourite! Absolutely.
Why did you choose to get involved with The Eyeopener?
I have a unique story. Two years ago, the editor in chief was my neighbour and she grabbed me off the street and told me “you have to sign up for this paper, it’s the new big thing, we’ve been doing this since 1967, you really need to get involved, I know you’ll have a lot of fun with it” and I said okay, I might as well. It was my first day on campus as a freshman and I hadn’t done any other clubs or anything so I got attached to this. I signed up and I came in and I ended up writing a fun and satire story on the anti-choice protesters on campus, and then I wrote a news piece on some Ryerson Students Union thing, and immediately I knew this was where I had to be, this is where it’s all happening. The community here is so nice and people who volunteer are our backbone. We’d be so not who we are today without people who give us their free time to help us. So yeah, I started as a volunteer and just poked my way into the system and eventually I got a job here, which is usually not the way people get into The Eye. A lot of our volunteers are journalism students obviously, and they’ll usually hear about us in first or second year, and then come by and start volunteering for us because it looks good on a resume or they want to get involved or new writing experiences, and that’s usually the way people get in.
What is your greatest accomplishment while working at The Eyeopener?
Definitely, the one I’m proudest of is at the end of my year as the fun and satire editor I ended up writing at the back of our paper, the last paper that went out on April 4th I think, in big bold text just “F You [Doug] Ford” on the back and people ended up taking those and posting them all over the RSU top floor here at the Student Campus Centre and we all considered it the best way to end off the paper. It was super good and I think that’s one of my proudest accomplishments, just like the little niche way of ending something off.
What is it like working for a paper in downtown Toronto?
We are a very small community, although Ryerson is right in the centre of downtown, it’s its own beating heart of an ecosystem. It kind of has this ability to just be really connected, but also totally on its own when it comes to a lot of stories. With that in mind, when we’re writing stuff about Ryerson it’s so nice to be surrounded by your own community, but also surrounded by the craziness that is Toronto. You’re just in this really small ball in this really big bubble and it just makes for hectic days. You’re always learning something new about the university or about the city. A lot of times those will blend together when we talk about events that people are doing, like a lot of them are within the city and when big news happens there’s often a Ryerson connection. It’s a nice way of blending together Toronto life and Ryerson life because those often mingle and so does our reporting.
What is the best part about being involved on campus?
Definitely that you couldn’t do this any other way. The uniqueness of being involved on campus is that you really only have until you graduate to be in this type of environment. Obviously, you could come back as a continuing education student, but there’s a uniqueness of only having four years (or however long it takes to graduate) to get involved in this community. There’s just this feeling of it’s not going to last forever, so you might as well take the time that you have to really enjoy it and really push for it. You can’t predict tomorrow, and I know that sounds really cliche but genuinely so much crazy stuff happens, even in just our own circles, like when it comes to the RSU stuff, we couldn’t have predicted bed bugs a few years ago, we couldn’t have predicted the credit card scandal or anything like that. There’s just so much this is happening now, what do we do now and a lot of reaction and action towards a lot of things from everything to the student strike that’s going on to the bed bugs to [Doug] Ford’s cuts. It’s just a whole lot of reaction.
What is your favourite part of Ryerson?
I think my favourite part about Ryerson is that there’s always something going on. You can always find something to do, something to see, some panel to attend, something to teach yourself, some party that’s happening, some student-run event and there really is a group for everyone. You can find almost always what you’re looking for when you’re at Ryerson. Unfortunately with the cuts, that might dwindle a little which is really sad to hear. I think that it’s always moving, always something to do on campus.
How could future students get involved with The Eyeopener?
I know it sounds scary, but just walk through our front door and say hi, introduce yourself and I know that’s big. Everything’s online, all of our emails are available if you’re worried about introductions or something like that, you can send us an email and set up a one on one with an editor that has an interesting section you want to get involved with. We usually run events throughout the year and we are active on campus and we try to get people involved. During frosh week we’re always out campaigning for people to join and opt-in [to fees supporting the paper]. Students can always swing by and see what’s going on and ask us anything because we are very open to bringing new people into this weird family, so however students want to approach us, it just matters that they approach us.
So finally, what is one piece of advice you’d give to future students?
Oh gosh…*laughs* pray! In all honesty, just… I don’t want to say “enjoy your time” because that’s so fluffy end of the movie, but in reality, just treat everything like improv. Say “yes and” to things. And if you don’t like it, then you don’t like it, and you at least tried. I can’t imagine where I would be as a student if I hadn’t said yes to coming to The Eye. My life would be completely different and I can imagine it’s the same for most people on the masthead, a lot of the volunteers here and again with other student groups, all that matters is that you try stuff once. If you really don’t like it, that’s fine, but if you don’t do it then you’ll never know if you like it or hate it. So always form an opinion on what you want to do at Ryerson because who knows, the next thing you do could land you a job for three years, which is what it’s done for me.
A special thanks to Nathaniel and the team at The Eyeopener for this interview!
Are there any other student groups you want to learn about? Let me know in the comments below!