By Al Downham
After being denied student group status, the Men’s Issues Awareness Society (MIAS) has filed a lawsuit against the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU).
According to RSU president Andrea Bartlett, a lawsuit was brought forward Friday asking the union to reassess the group and give MIAS official student group status. The suit’s complainants are MIAS president Kevin Arriola and Alex Godlewski, the group’s social media executive.
“We stand by the decision of the board when this was brought forward to the board in January,” Bartlett said.
The on-campus group arose in September with Arriola, a fourth-year politics and governance student, as its president. He said the group discusses men’s issues including suicide, homelessness, high incarceration rates, illiteracy among boys and unfair judicial practices.
Reached for comment on Friday, Arriola wouldn’t confirm or deny any reports of a lawsuit served to the RSU.
The RSU rejected MIAS’ application for student group status in late October, along with the group’s subsequent appeal in January.
The RSU said the group violates union policy on women’s issues and could affect safety of Ryerson female students and faculty. Other groups on campus, namely the Ryerson Feminist Collective, have accused the group of perpetuating sexism on campus.
“Men’s rights groups actively seek to delegitimize women who come forward as survivors of gender-based violence and attempt to silence women who speak out against patriarchy and misogyny by use of threats, intimidation and harassment,” the collective’s November petition against MIAS reads. The document asked the RSU to refuse MIAS’ attempts to gain group status.
The group’s relation to the Canadian Association For Equality (CAFE), another men’s issues group off-campus, has also been questioned. After the RSU’s rejection of MIAS, CAFE criticized the union in December and asked for donations that would fund “a groundbreaking discrimination against men case.” CAFE has also hosted a MIAS event off-campus.
The RSU has previously said that student group status is a privilege decided by the board of governors.
With files from Keith Capstick