Ryerson students Anjana Rao, left, Argir Argirov and Sarah Santhosh tried to start a men’s issues group on campus last year. FILE PHOTO

RSU flunks for freedom of speech on campus

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By Yara Kashlan

The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) received poor grades for its performance of policies and practices on campus last year after re- fusing to ratify a proposed men’s issues group.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) rated Ry- erson and other universities and their student groups in its 2013 Campus Freedom Index. While Ryerson University received a top grade, the RSU was rated among the second worst student unions in the country for failing to uphold free expression rights on campus.

There were two categories for the grading: policy and practices. The RSU received a “D” in policy and ‘F’ in practices.

Communications and development coordinator and co-author of the Campus Freedom Index Michael Kennedy said its decision to give Ryerson failing grades was a direct result of the RSU’s decision to not allow a student men’s issues group to be formed last March.

“Every member in the RSU should have the same freedoms, and funding space,” said Kennedy.

“Every student is entitled to that, they [RSU] can’t deny what every other student is entitled to.”

Kennedy also mentioned that there is a concern that once the student union rejects a club, that leaves the students not wanting to go ahead anymore.

“Most men on campus don’t regard the Women’s Center as a threat,” said Kennedy.

However, the RSU still stands by its decision to not allow the men’s issues group on campus.

Rajean Hoilett, RSU vice-president for equity, said they had campus safety in mind when considering the ratification of the men’s group. “We looked at how this group operated at different levels,” he said. “For example, at U of T, [they were] targeting women, we felt like this was not the route to go.”

“We see this as a difference in ideology. We are proud of the work [that] we do,” said Hoilett. He said that freedom of speech has a limit when it puts others in danger.

Last year, Argir Argirov and Sarah Santhosh presented their potential campus group to a panel of seven RSU members March 15, hours later they were sent an email stating that the group had been rejected.

Students across campus have expressed their support for the men’s group.

“Men experience a lot of hidden repression because they are expected to be tough guys,” said Amber Bin-Soehardji, a second- year social work student.

Bin-Soehardji mentioned that there are no other groups that offer men support on campus.

“There is a stigma against men who express their feelings and express that they have issues,” she said.

For students, the ratification of the men’s group hinges on whether their intentions are positive.

“If they’re not for education, I don’t think that they should be here but, other than that, they have a right to be here,” said Jerome Lorenzo, a first-year early childhood studies student.

Hoilett stated that the RSU is proud of the work that they have accomplished.

Santhosh, the original founder of the group, was contacted but declined to comment.

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