By Dylan Freeman-Grist
A group of students gathered at the intersection of Gould and Victoria Streets on Nov. 18 to express solidarity with black students at the University of Missouri and Yale. The President of the University of Missouri recently stepped down after the school’s football team refused to play out of protest for the school’s inaction on addressing concerns black students had raised regarding their experience with ongoing anti-black racism.
The gathering, organized by The Black Liberation Collective in collaboration with several other campus groups focused on racial issues, hung a banner from the upper levels of the parking garage expressing their support of students at Missouri and Yale. They also called upon the Ryerson community and administration to make changes to combat anti-black racism and inter-sectional violence.
“They’re trying to do everything they can to get us out of here,” Pascale Diverlus, former RSU vice-president equity and former candidate for RSU president, said to the crowd. “We will win, I know we will win. Black lives matter, black students matter, black staff matter and we deserve to be here.”
Diverlus called out the current RSU for being absent at the rally, and being absent from advocacy for marginalized communities on campus.
Black students took turns sharing their experiences. One woman talked about being passed up for partnering in her labs as she was one of the few, if not only, black woman in the biology program. Another woman from fashion communications recalled her experience of being laughed at when a professor pointed her out as being the only woman of colour in the class.
“Black students are facing anti-black racism on campus and that’s an issue that needs to be addressed,” said Susanne Nyga, a third-year social work student and organizer of the event calling on action from students, faculty and administration.
“Regardless of the differences between our experiences at Ryerson and at Mizzou and Yale this is a systemic issue and so it’s important for faculty to address this issue, it’s important for faculty to be trained in anti-racism, and it’s also important for faculty to take these concerns seriously and create safe spaces for students.”