Photo: Annie Arnone

Rye Reproductive Justice Collective meets with admin, RSU and CESAR

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By The News Team

A roundtable was held on Jan. 23 to discuss what action the university should take about pro-life protesters on campus.

Last semester, the Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective (RJC) wrote an open letter regarding the demand for action against the constant occurrences of pro-life protesters on Gould Street.

The letter was sent from the RJC to Ryerson President Mohamed Lachemi and the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) President Obaid Ullah on Nov. 18. One of the demands in the letter was for the RSU, CESAR and Ryerson administration to take part in a discussion.

This is also after a motion was passed at the RSU semi-annual general meeting that required the RSU to take an open pro-choice stance and pressure the university to do the same.

Heather Lane Vetere, vice-provost students, told RJC representatives Hannah Reaburn and Chrissy Lynn Trudel that Ryerson administration understands the collective’s stance and concerns, but they cannot kick students off Gould Street, as it is owned by the City of Toronto.

The letter also asked the university to take an official stance against the pro-life protesters on campus. Administration in attendance, including Lane Vetere and vice-president administration and finance Janice Winton, said that’s not possible because the university wants to remain objective and not take any political positions. They said that while the university cannot take stances, Ryerson community members are encouraged to take stances and voice their opinions.

“Anybody in the university can take a position, but the university itself, in my view, should be a forum where those kinds of debates, disagreements, protests and so on can take place,” said James Turk, Director of the Centre for Free Expression.

 


 

Lane Vetere said that the university looked at court cases relating to pro-life protesters on Canadian university campuses, and they found that the schools that took a stance and limited pro-life protesters lost in court when the ruling was challenged.

“It’s not in our best interest as an institution to put ourselves in that position, knowing that there’s case law that we can turn to that confirms that,” Lane Vetere said.

Tamara Jones, RSU vice-president equity, said that she supports the RJC, but is undecided about the role the university should take. “I heard really good points from both sides. James [Turk] had a lot of good points and those were some of the issues that I also found—kind of trying to suppress a certain kind of protesting or protesting a certain matter on campus because I didn’t want to set that precedent,” she said.

The administration did agree that giving Ryerson security more training, possibly through the Centre for Women and Trans People, should be looked into, and said they are ready to provide support, such as counselling, for students who are traumatized by the images shown by pro-life protesters.

The RJC will hold a town hall for students on Feb. 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Mattamy Athletic Centre, where they can talk about new ways to organize and gather support.

Comments

  1. This article is quite balanced, considering the contentious nature of the issue. Great work, EyeOpener.

  2. Anybody in the university can take a position, but the university itself, in my view, should be a forum where those kinds of debates, disagreements, protests and so on can take place,” said James Turk, Director of the Centre for Free Expression.

    Excellent, and balanced.

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