By Simone Joseph
Enrolment in Ryerson’s first Caribbean studies course has been so successful, the classes are stuffed and more students are waiting to get in.
“I was taking attendance and some students were not in the official roster,” said Simboonath Singh, professor of Introduction to the Caribbean.
“There were three or four guys sitting at the back of the class waiting for someone to drop it.”
Both sections of the course are full, with a total of 85 students enrolled.
The one-semester course is part of a package of four Caribbean studies courses Ryerson plans to phase in over the next three to four years.
The classes focus on the historical and sociological development of the Caribbean.
Joe Springer, a professor of Urban and Regional Planning, believes interest in the course has a lot to do with students’ quest for an identity.
“The students seem to be desperately searching for some definition of themselves. Some of them have a nostalgic view of the Caribbean.
“[Their] parents talk about a society they lived in 20, 30 years ago, but there is no deep-seated analysis of why things are the way thee are and how they got that way.
“This set of courses tried to provide some of these explanations.”
Jeannine Hunte, vice-president of the Ryerson African Caribbean Association, said the courses help students from the Caribbean examine their roots.
“Speaking from the standpoint of being West Indian and being black in Canada, there’s not a lot we can identify with. This is something we can identify with,” Hunte said.
Ryerson hopes to introduce three more Caribbean studies courses by the year 2000.
These are likely to be Families in the Caribbean, Caribbean Peoples and Racism in Canada and Cultural Traditions in the Caribbean.