By Lisa Whitaker
For the first time, students are sitting on the committee organizing Ryerson’s community forum against racism, anti-semitism and hate.
“It is a combination of students and professors this year,” said sociology professor Vappu Tyyska, a member of the planning committee. “This year the Jewish Students Association’s involvement is reflected, as they have organized a display and arranged some of the speakers,” she said.
The nine-day forum — Ryerson’s third annual — kicked off Wednesday as part of the 20th annual city-wide Holocaust Education Week.
The JSA’s display, featuring videos, photographs and pamphlets, will be set up on the second floor bridge between Jorgenson and Kerr Halls, near the library.
Tyyska said the event helps educate people and demonstrates that hate groups aren’t welcome on campus.
Ryerson started participating in Holocaust Education Week seven years ago, when a few instructors began showing videos and inviting guest speakers to talk about the holocaust in their classes.
Over the years, an increasing number of people became involved at Ryerson until it grew into a community-wide forum.
Tyyska said she is pleased with the number of sponsors for this year’s event, most of whom donated sums of money to help with overhead costs.
“The money goes to security, speakers, advertising and room rentals,” said Tyyska, adding the extra security will prevent any disturbances that may come from emotionally charged presentations.
Some of the highlights of this year’s events include a reading of memoirs by Holocaust survivor Anita Mayer. She’ll speak Nov. 7 in the library, room L386C. Another notable presentation will be given by historian Robert Jan Von Pelt, who testified for the defence in Holocaust denier Irving’s libel suit against Penguin Press and Deborah Lipstadt. He will speak Nov. 9 in the Olive Baker Lounge.
All presentations are free.
Desmond Glynn, program director of the arts division of continuing education — one of the forum’s sponsors — is happy his department could help.
“I think it is important for educational institutions to show their support to the public,” Glynn said.