By Harlan Nemerofsky
Three Ryerson students whose proposed men’s issues campus group was denied by the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) are still shocked by the decision.
Argir Argirov and Sarah Santhosh presented their would-be campus group to a panel of seven RSU members on March 15, but were sent an email denying them group status hours later.
“On behalf of the Student Groups Committee, I regret to inform you that your group has been not approved.
Please direct any questions or concerns to RSU President Rodney Diverlus,” the email read.
Santhosh replied to Diverlus in a follow-up email as to why they were rejected. Diverlus sent an official response Tuesday, outlining some of the reasons the group was not ratified, which he said include a lack of compliance with RSU policies.
Diverlus said committee members raised concerns about the group’s association, and whether or not they were directly or indirectly associated with the groups A Voice For Men or Canadian Association For Equality.
“These are groups that are, in some jurisdictions, considered to be a hate group, become known to have profiled women on campuses who speak against them, and they are tied to individuals who not only go out of their way to negate the struggles of women but can also create some problematic discourse on language around the idea of women’s rights,” said Diverlus.
“They said that our group could be a “Trojan horse” in a way that those groups could use our group as a way of getting into the campus and spreading their message of hate,” said Argirov, a third-year industrial engineering student.
The group, which also included Anjano Rao, says that they had made it very clear that they were not going to threaten any existing women’s groups on campus.
“We’ve already emphasized countless times that we are not a men’s rights group, we’re not trying to advocate men’s right over women’s rights and we’re not trying to somehow disqualify women’s rights,” said Santhosh, a secondyear biology student.
Instead, they say that they want to stand up for men’s health, violence amongst men, education amongst boys, reproductive rights of males, custody battles and other issues.
The group’s six-page constitution said its goal was to “create a progressive and constructive voice and lend representation to any and all Ryerson students concerned with the issues of men and boys.” In this proposed group, executive meetings would have been held once every two months, with no fewer than four meetings each year, outlines the constitution.
“Here at Ryerson, there is a women’s centre, but there is no men’s centre where guys can talk about their own issues,” said Rao, a second year economics student. “Half of the student body doesn’t have [as many] student services as the other half.” Diverlus compared their group to a straight people’s group and an able-bodied group. He said that there are transgendered centres because transgendered people are being marginalized.
“We know that oppression and the marginalization of men is something that doesn’t exist just like the oppression and marginalization of straight people or white folks in our society,” said Diverlus.
Santhosh is not sure that this is the case.
“What they have in mind when they say women are the minority, they think of positions in power in government and corporations where men usually hold the higher positions. But they don’t take into account that…
only a very small percentage of [men] are in power,” said Santhosh.
The group planned to host panel discussions addressing women’s rights, gay rights, feminist groups, and race issues.
We have no goal to increase men’s rights, we just want to have a space to discuss men’s issues,” said Argirov.
Still the group says they will continue to push hard in getting a men’s rights group created on campus soon.