By Alex Hamlyn
RyePRIDE, the Ryerson Women’s Centre and the Ryerson Students’ Union feel that the school should set up a student-run Anti-Racism group.
Incidents in the last school year prompted the RSU (as well as the school) to examine the issues more carefully.
Spearheading the initiative is Heather Kere, VP Education in the RSU.
According to Kere, the ongoing success of community service groups (RyeACCESS, the Community Food Room, the Working Students’ Centre, RyePRIDE, and the Women’s Centre) led to the realization that there was not a group around to deal with racial discrimination.
Kere noted that support for students affected by racism “needs to be institutionalized as with the other groups.”
Boonaa Mohammed, President of United Black Students at Ryerson feels that the new RSU group would be very beneficial.
“A community group specifically dealing with racism is long overdue,” he said. “I think most students would agree.”
Following the last school year it may not be such a bad idea.
A surprising rash of incidents related to racism occurred. There were allegations from the women’s basketball team of racism, the controversy over the “I’m a white minority” Facebook group, and several incidents revolving around Islamaphobia in various forms.
However, Ryerson itself already has an office in place to support such students: the Discrimination & Harassment Prevention Services office.
As a professionally run, school- funded service the, DHPS has long been serving the students of Ryerson.
Despite this, Kere argues it is unable to provide all the services required these days.
“My only criticism of the DHPS is that it doesn’t deal with the systematic issues of racism,” she said.
“Because they’re part of the university itself, [the DHPS office] can’t say certain things,” added Mohammed, “a student group would be an effective advocate [for these matters].”
Systematic issues include organization and community policies, as well as protocols and policies of Ryerson itself.
Kere continued: “I believe it’s important that an organization outside the school [unlike the DHPS] monitors hiring policies, who gets tenure etc.”
As of this time a proposal to set up the office is still in the works within the RSU to put before the Board of Directors for approval.