By Sean Wetselaar
The walls of the third floor men’s washroom in the library building were recently vandalized with racist graffiti containing vulgar and offensive language towards Arabs.
Fourth-year sociology student Lali Mohamed, who found the graffiti, was particularly appalled.
“My initial thought was ‘this needs to come to an end,’” Mohamed said. “It was, in many ways, another reminder that racism is very much pervasive in the university.”
The other graffiti found on the walls read “fuck Arabs, they smell like camel shit,” and accused Arabs of violence against women.
He says that this isn’t the first time it has happened.
“It’s just the first time that I’ve taken a picture,” said Mohamed. “What is the most concerning thing for me is that I wasn’t the first person in the washroom that day.”
Rodney Diverlus, vice-president of equity at the Ryerson Students’ Union, has been in contact with their five student equity groups to plan how to work to reclaim spaces like washrooms.
“We’ve been in contact with some community members and students who’ve done campaigns about some actions we can do,” Diverlus said.
“I think we need to reclaim those spaces, through either a sticker or a poster.”
He plans to physically put something over these spaces, and stresses the importance of the fight against racism.
“This graffiti validates the fact that racism isn’t unheard of, even on such a diverse campus as Ryerson,” he said.
“We need to say that this is not okay on campus.”
The RSU plans to re-launch their Unlearn Racism campaign within the next month.
Although Mohamed said he feels Ryerson’s policies on racism are excellent, he also said, “I don’t think they’re practiced. [Policies] are meaningless if not put into practice.”
Mohamed said the place to start targeting racism is in the classroom, where many professors do not check racist remarks.
“I think that if racism was checked in classrooms, people wouldn’t be writing this shit,” he said.
Diverlus stressed that anyone can become an agent of racism, but that understanding different backgrounds can prevent it.
“I think we need to acknowledge the differences that exist on campus,” he said.
“We need to become allies.”
Diverlus added that involvement is crucial.
“You don’t have to be at the forefront of the movement,” he said, “but the movement needs support.”