By Alanna Rizza
With a new, controversial president in the White House, American students are turning to Ryerson as a possible way out.
The number of U.S. undergraduate applications to Ryerson for next school year have increased by about 62 per cent, according to Ryerson’s registrar Charmaine Hack.
She said this increase is a result of Ryerson’s increased student recruitment efforts in the U.S. as well as “the current U.S. political landscape.”
Hack said the number of U.S. applications may continue to increase as programs keep accepting more applications, since the deadline for guaranteed application consideration is Feb. 1.
Abu Arif, Ryerson’s coordinator of international student support, said many American students are being encouraged to study abroad because of “Trump’s message of fear,” as well as Canada’s “generous immigration system.”
“International students pick Canada because of its reputation [as] a welcoming nation and many students tell [my department] they chose Ryerson because of Ryerson’s energy and its idea of innovation,” he said.
Arif said students from all over the world apply to Ryerson, and that “Trump’s sort of leadership is new for North America, but it’s not new to the world.”
Lizzie Kurz Michel, originally from upstate New York, wanted to study in Toronto and applied for the information studies graduate program at the University of Toronto. They are currently completing their undergraduate degree in Massachusetts.
Kurz Michel said one of their reasons for applying to a Canadian school is because of “the current political climate in the U.S.”
“As someone who identifies as queer, in the wake of the recent election and inauguration, it feels like there is more of maybe if not a danger per se, but a risk in revealing that identity.”
They said they are specifically worried Trump and his administration will not protect minority groups and deal with hate crimes.
Last week, almost immediately after Trump’s inauguration, pages referencing LGBTQ rights, civil rights, health care and climate change were removed from the White House website.
Kurz Michel said they think a Canadian school would be safer than studying on an American campus, but they are still “afraid to find out what it would be like on other campuses.”
Other students have expressed contrasting views. Last week, on the day of Trump’s inauguration, Ryerson biomed student Aedan O’Connor stood on Gould Street holding a sign that read “God bless Trump.”
O’Connor told The Eyeopener that one of the reasons she supports Trump is because “he represents the whole free speech culture.” However, she said that “some of the rhetoric has gone too far.”
Similar comments from groups advocating for free speech have risen on campus over the past year.
This past month, an Instagram ac- count that had “keep Canada Canadian” in its bio was created by someone who claims to be a Ryerson student. The user of the account wrote that
Ryerson “has no diversity of opinion.” And, at the end of last school year, Ryerson Marketing Association vice-president corporate relations Dan Petz made a controversial Facebook status calling safe spaces “fascist practices.” He told The Eye that he stood by what he said because he “was within [his] free speech rights.”
Kurz Michel said for them, free speech “doesn’t mean people can’t be upset with what you say. What it means is we are allowed to critique those in power. We are allowed to have differing opinions from the those in charge.”
However, they said they “don’t understand” Canadian Trump supporters. “The type of hatefulness that fuels the respect people have for that man is honestly scary.”