By Julianna Cummins
The Writing Centre is looking for tutors — preferably male ones.
At least, that’s what was said in an internal email sent last Wednesday by Lucie Moussu, director of the Writing Centre.
“We are desperately looking for students who… are males (preferably, because we don’t want our female tutors to be alone in the Writing Centre in the evening),” read the email, according to an article in the Toronto Sun.
Moussu, also an assistant English professor at Ryerson, said her original preference for male applicants came from an incident where a female tutor quit because a student was screaming at her. The email, sent only to Ryerson faculty, was deemed as discriminatory by some of her colleagues.
“I’m not saying that women would not be able to defend themselves or are helpless. I’m just saying that it’s a matter of perception,” said Moussu.
She later apologized for the wording of the posting, which has since been sent to the rest of the Ryerson community without mention of a preference for applications from males.
“If we want to target minority groups, if we have the legal right to do that, I think males — in my case — are the minority,” said Moussu.
Currently, the Writing Centre has 24 tutors, only five of which are males. Moussu said she hasn’t received many applications from males for the tutoring positions as of yet.
Genevieve Weigel, the events coordinator at the Ryerson Women’s Centre, said hiring male tutors at the Writing Centre would not necessarily deter students from mistreating employees.
“Being male is not the be all and end all of stopping violence — in fact, it can be quite the opposite,” said Weigel. She also said that just because someone is male does not mean they are more physically imposing than a woman, and that security concerns should be addressed in other ways.
“You can make it very clear that you cannot raise your voice to the tutor, you can’t speak to them in a way that is disrespectful or threatening, otherwise you will no longer be able to use the services,” said Weigel. She also said that panic buttons should be in the facility.
The Writing Centre has no rules outlining interactions between students and tutors, nor does it have any panic buttons. The centre, however, is considering implementing both, said Moussu.
The latest the centre is open until is 8 p.m, and is closed on the weekends.
She has since undergone a positive review of her hiring practices with a Ryerson human-resources consultant.
The consultant told her if she wants to target a particular group, she can go to where that group is found. The consultant gave the example of targeting engineering students to get more male applicants. Moussu said she still found this suggestion to be discriminatory.