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Ryerson’s Black Faculty and Staff Community Network launches on campus

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By Jack Hopkins 

After nearly 18 months of preparation, the Ryerson Black Faculty and Staff Community Network has kicked off its first meeting.

The conference brought together Ryerson’s black community with a meet-and-greet, followed by a panel discussion on Oct.7. Four panelists from different academic disciplines provided their insight on pressing issues and related them to their current profession.

Ivan Joseph, director of Athletics at Ryerson, said that having a black role model had a positive effect on him when he was in high school. “I worked on a golf course, yet I never picked up a golf club. [But then] I see a golf player on TV who happens to be black and it’s then that I wanted to play golf.”

When Joseph graduated from university, he bought himself a golf club.

“That’s what we as instructors need to do — guide and show students that they can do it,” he said.

The program director of the Chang School, O’Neil Edwards, said he has trouble finding a job despite graduating top of his class. “I was the only black person in my graduating year and everybody else was finding jobs,” Edwards said. “The first day I went to graduate school was the first day I started my first shift at Burger King.”

The Ryerson Black Faculty and Staff Community Network was created to provide mentorship and engage leadership. The event was brought together by Carol Sutherland, an enrolment services representative. She said that she felt a community like this was needed.

“We were passing each other in the hallways as black workers and faculty, but we didn’t know each other and that’s what drove me to start this,” said Sutherland. “I started reaching out to other members, meeting them on my lunch, after work, sending emails or stopping them in the hallway — that’s how the building began.”

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