This story has been updated with comment from Ryerson’s School of Fashion and creative industries students/faculty
By Brenda Molina-Navidad
Katie Ferreira and Amanda Ho, third-year Ryerson fashion communication students, were shocked when they found out they were not enrolled in a course for Mass Exodus—an annual end-of-year fashion event.
According to Ferreira and Ho, there was a high demand and limited number of seats in the two-semester fashion promotion course where students prepare and work on Mass Exodus—a course that students are encouraged to take before even being accepted into Ryerson’s school of fashion. Students say the School of Fashion promotes Mass Exodus as an opportunity to gain experience and exposure.
This course is one of the mandatory options given to third-year communication students, the other option being typography and graphic production (the course Ferreira and Ho were required to take).
Ferreira explained that faculty tells students before enrolment, in first year and the during their first class, that fashion students will have the opportunity to produce a show.
“Then you get to third year and you find out that only a quarter of your class got in,” she said.
After several attempts to speak with the school of fashion’s administration, Ferreira and Ho decided to take matters into their own hands by creating a petition on change.org. They are petitioning the Ryerson School of Fashion’s administration, including the Chair Sandra Tullio-Pow and the Dean of Faculty of Communication and Design, Charles Falzon. The petition has 145 signatures in the past week. On it, there are two requests—the first one being to increase the number of available seats in fashion promotion.
According to the two communication students the number of seats for the class dropped from 50 in 2015 to 36 in 2016.
The second request of the petition is to implement a ‘fashion communication students first’ policy to ensure that future students in the program are first-priority.
Daniel Drak, a contract lecturer and project strategist at Ryerson’s School of Fashion said through email that there were 36 students, but this number has recently increased to 44.
Of the 44 students, 30 are fashion communication students and 14 are creative industries students.
James Nadler, the Chair of Creative Industries, says that spots in the Mass Exodus course are reserved for creative industries students, but this year there was an administrative error by enrolment caught by student affairs coordinators. Nadler says it was a computer glitch and the promotion course was supposed to be made up of two-thirds fashion students and one-third creative industries students – with the recent increase fashion students now make up about 68 per cent of the class.
“We’re fine with other programs being able to take our courses…because it’s also an elective that they’re able to take, but if this is something that [fashion communication students] have to major in and study in, then it kind of sucks that they don’t get a spot,” said Young Eun Lee, a third-year fashion design student.
Karina Yehia, a third-year creative-industries student says that students in her program who are focusing their studies on fashion are not as prioritized as those in the fashion program and explained that fashion courses are limited.
“I can see where the [fashion communication students] are coming from, but everyone should have equal opportunities. We are interested in fashion as well and we kind of get the leftovers,” Yehia said.
The creative industries program offers education in a diverse range of creative fields including fashion. These students have the opportunity to gear their studies towards any creative field by completing two creative-modules by the end of their four-year program. There are thirteen modules to choose from –which they choose at the start of their first and second year. Each module consists of six courses.
Creative industries students who choose to narrow their studies in Fashion can choose ‘The Fashion Industry: Markets, Aesthetics and Creativity’ module, and it is in this module where fashion promotion is offered.
Nadler explained that the creative industries and fashion administration are working together to make the Mass exodus course work for everybody. He added that the course is a great opportunity for the creative industries and fashion communication students to learn from each other.
“The most important part of this is it’s not creative industries versus fashion..but it is to remember that we are one university,” he said.
As for the students who were unable to get in this year, Nadler says that creative industries students have the opportunity to enrol again and students are chosen for enrolment based on seniority and GPA.
Ho, the co-collaborator of the petition, says in the petition that enrolment is based on a luck-of-the-draw selection. Ho says she thought about enrolling in the class in her final year, but worried about the possibility of jeopardizing her fourth year due to the uncertainty of class space—meaning that she would have to return for an additional semester.
She hopes the petition is able to create change in their fashion program as well as her co-collaborator Ferreira.
“My goal would be for them to change it now,” said Ferreira, who is unsure of whether or not their requests are realistic.