RYERSON TAKES AIM AT CAMPUS RACISM

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by Hilary Hagerman

Ryerson has dedicated itself to improving diversity on campus after the school’s anti-racism taskforce released its final report last Monday.

The taskforce, which was developed after reports of racism and hate-motivated activity in 2008, recommended reforms in education and administration to promote an inclusive environment. Nearly half of all students at the school are racialized or Aboriginal.

Ryerson President Sheldon Levy encouraged everyone in the Ryerson community to reflect on the report. “This is a great goal for us, and one we take up with not only commitment, but with pride,” he said at the presentation. “Ryerson should aspire to be a model in equity, diversity and inclusion.”

In a prepared statement available online, Levy said the school is planning to create a senior position that focuses on equity, diversity and inclusion.

“While we as a community have a track record of leadership on diversity, we know that there is more we can do,” the statement reads.

The new administrative position is currently filled by Rona Abramovitch, advisor on outreach and access. The university is also looking into working with the Ryerson Diversity Institute to collect data to help plan future decisions.

The taskforce called for reforms in areas like employment equity, harassment and discrimination, and the development of an inclusive curriculum which includes a mandatory course on diversity. Equity and training and workshops are also recommended, especially for senior administration.

Other findings include indications of offensive speech in classrooms and concerns that curriculum that does not address issues like colonialism. Taskforce members collected data over the past year through several methods including interviews with individual students and faculty, research projects and online surveys.

Grace-Edward Galabuzi, co-chair of the Taskforce, said despite the findings, Ryerson is a largely positive experience for most.

“A lot of students, faculty and staff love to work and learn at Ryerson,” he said. “Now we need to make sure it is a safe place for all to work and study.”

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