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By John Shmuel

Queer and transgender individuals aren’t listed in Ryerson’s equity hiring policy, sparking a debate over which groups should be considered marginalized in the workplace.

The revelation comes as RyePRIDE, the school’s queer advocacy organization, celebrates its 30th anniversary. Ryerson is currently looking to hire a new vice-provost students and director of student services.

At a meeting of the Ryerson Students’ Union executive board last Thursday, Vice President Education Heather Kere said Ryerson’s equity policy makes no mention of queers and those who consider themselves to be transgender.

“It’s something I think needs to be addressed,” Kere said, adding that it wasn’t an active RSU campaign at the moment.

Ryerson’s current equity hiring policy is based on Canada’s Employment Equity Act. The groups mentioned under the Act include women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities.

All federally regulated employers, including universities, are required to provide equal opportunities for these groups when hiring.

“It’s a good first step and an important piece of legislation,” said Oren Howlett, a Carleton graduate student who recently spoke at Queer at Work, a debate organized by RyePRIDE.

During the debate, he argued that members of the queer community are economically marginalized in various ways, and the Employment Equity Act should be extended to reflect that.

The RSU has a modified equity hiring policy in contrast to Ryerson’s.

It follows the Employment Equity Act, but includes an additional point by listing queer and transgender individuals as groups that are considered under-represented.

This summer, the RSU landed itself in hot water when some members of the group questioned the basis for having queers in the policy at a board meeting.

The issue came up again at a meeting of the Canadian Federation of Students where at least two attendees, including Howlett, criticized the RSU for suggesting queers weren’t an economically-marginalized group.

That debate led the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents the RSU’s full-time employees, to send the student union letters demanding an explanation.

Kere said there was never any intention to drop mention of queer and transgender individuals from the RSU’s equity hiring policy.

“There’s no threat to queer students for our [RSU] hiring policy,” she said. Kere added Ryerson’s exclusion of the group in its hiring policy was an issue that was getting lost in all the attention paid to the union’s own policy.

Ryerson President Sheldon Levy said he wasn’t aware of any complaints made against Ryerson’s equity hiring policy.

“I’ve never heard a concern with regard to that issue. It’s never been raised to me,” he said. Levy added that if it were ever brought up to the administration the university would address the problem immediately.

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