Ryerson University men’s issues group fails to get ratified

Kevin Arriola at the RSU Board of Directors meeting. PHOTO: Al Downham

Kevin Arriola at the RSU Board of Directors meeting.

Photo: Al Downham

By Brennan Doherty

The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) rejected the last appeal by the Men’s Issues Awareness Society (MIAS) to become an officially sanctioned student group.

RSU president Andrea Bartlett said that the group cannot appeal any further.

MIAS, which styles itself as “a space for Ryerson students and affiliates to discuss the issues facing men and boys today,” first applied for campus group status in October. The RSU’s Board of Directors has consistently rejected the group — the latest attempt to establish a men’s issues organization on campus.

“What we’re doing is really raising issues that have never been [talked] about or usually disregarded,” said Kevin Arriola, MIAS’s president.

Arriola said the verdict didn’t surprise him.

“I knew I was coming into a kangaroo court, so I’m not really surprised with the decision. Now we have to think about the next step,” he said.

Despite lobbying efforts by the Canadian Association For Equality (CAFE) — a Toronto-based men’s rights group — to influence Monday’s decision, Bartlett said the vote would ultimately be out of her hands.

“While I have received numerous calls and emails from the membership of CAFE urging me to reconsider the decision, the decision is one of the committee,” Bartlett wrote via message before the meeting. She said she arranged a one-on-one meeting with Arriola before, but he’d refused unless several journalists were present to record their conversation.

Arriola was questioned by several directors at the meeting about his group’s commitment to equity — which the RSU said isn’t consistent with their policies.

“We are definitely approaching [men’s issues] from an equity standpoint,” Arriola said. He added the group’s egalitarianism means equity “is kind of implied.”

Several directors said that MIAS’ recognition as a student group would make female staff and students at Ryerson feel unsafe.

“When there are women who are attending these spaces because they want to see what’s being talked about, how will you ensure that there are no voices that are targeting or oppressing anyone else?” said Cassandra Myers, equity correspondent for the Board of Governors.

Arriola has consistently denied that there are any safety issues associated with MIAS.

Alyson Rogers, co-organizer of the Ryerson Feminist Collective, was relieved to hear the group’s appeal was denied.

“I thank the RSU Board of Directors (BoD) for making a really good decision for women on campus, feminists on campus, sexual assault survivors on campus and really just student safety in general,” she said.

MIAS’ first application to the BoD in October was rejected, according to the RSU transcripts, because the group’s constitution was ambiguous and duplicated functioning of existing equity centres. Arriola was repeatedly questioned by directors on this.

A working relationship with CAFE — which several RSU directors consider a hate group — has also hindered Arriola’s efforts. In December’s meeting, Arriola promised the RSU he wouldn’t invite anyone from CAFE.

“We are willing to work with you guys,” he told the committee. “We won’t have CAFE here, anyone who ever speaks to CAFE [we] will eliminate them from the pool.”

CAFE hosted both of MIAS’ off-campus events, and backs Ryerson-affiliated men’s issues groups in an upcoming human rights case against universities opposing them. “We have a chance here to win a precedent that will open the door to unimpeded campus events and debates across campus,” they wrote in a fundraising post.

Arriola was tight-lipped about the details of the case. “We’re just still not sure about that,” he said.

Rogers was especially concerned about CAFE.

“People organizing with these beliefs is of course a concern for us. Yeah, it is concerning. While this vote is good, there’s still more work to be done around misogyny and sexism on campus.”

Ultimately, Arriola said that his group will keep fighting for recognition, holding events at CAFE’s headquarters off-campus.

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  1. Deb said:

    This is why I refuse to identify myself as a feminist. They always say the care about men’s issues and the movement is not about misandry. Really? You will know them by their fruits.

  2. WhoTheHell_Cares said:

    Seems like a good time to start an advertising campaign warning potential future male students that RSU considers them second class people who don’t deserve services aimed at male specific issues and is hostile to services that don’t embrace a feminist ideology.

  3. Greggore said:

    A friend of mine committed suicide in December 2015. He was depressed and isolated in his depression and didn’t know how to reach out and talk with people. He believed he could tough it out on his own. We all didn’t know he was that depressed, we were all willing to help him out, but we didn’t know. He didn’t know how to discuss it. He left behind a wife and two children.

    Our Country, our provinces and our campus’s insult and ignore half the population because of prejudice.

    People get hurt and some of those hurt are men. Men need these resources to talk to to someone, to get help to get back on track. It makes sense, but ….. for some reason people shut the discussion down and refuse to help.

    My friend could have been saved if at least just 2% of the resources that went to women’s issues in the province went to men’s issues. But no, literally everything for men’s issues is shut out and shut down.

  4. Marc said:

    Shameful and ridiculous, the excuse the camous gave for stifling a balanced educational dialigue on gender issues.

  5. sean said:

    dont forget the feminist collective tried to ban the existence of MIAS by having the RSU declare it as hate speech during the SAGM. This people will do anything they can to keep their manopoly on the debate, Why? cause their arguments dont hold any actual reality to them! Dont believe me do some research, hell ill even help,
    factual feminist
    the rubin report
    Cathy Young
    camille paglia
    the HoneyBadgerRadio
    and her holiness Karen Straughan

  6. Wiseman said:

    Am I the only one that sees the double standard of having a feminist collective on campus but barring this male oriented group?