By Lidia Abraha
The Black Liberation Collective (BLC) launched Ryerson’s first ever Black Frosh this week, an event they say will give Black students the chance to engage, learn and celebrate Blackness on campus. This makes Ryerson the second university in Canada to host a Black Frosh.
The BLC invited the group that first launched Black Frosh at Carleton University, to discuss how to make this happen across Canada. The panel included leaders of collegiate Black student associations across the GTA. Afterward, the BLC led their own focus group and asked Black students what they wanted to see more of during week of welcome.
“A lot of Black students were articulating how they felt isolated coming to post-secondary,” said Josh Lamers, the co-founder of the BLC. “Especially in certain programs and certain faculties at Ryerson, a lot of folks come thinking they’re going to see and meet other black folks and that just isn’t the reality.”
In the focus groups, students expressed their concerns over the traditional week of welcome. Lamers relayed how a lot of students weren’t being informed of things that were relevant to them, such as where to get products for their hair. They also expressed how they couldn’t engage in conversations about anti-black racism and black liberation during welcome week.
“We’ve been trying to make this something that is really attentive to the needs and wants of Black students, a different week of welcoming than what black students typically experience,” said Lamers.
The BLC has organized a number of events that they say explores every aspect what black students want on campus. Below is a schedule of events for the week:
Lamers hopes that Black Frosh will aid in the retention rate for Black students on campus. Despite lacking data collection on this account, Lamers speaks from personal experience of what he’s seen happen to fellow Black colleagues.
In 2017, Ryerson launched the Diversity Self-ID survey that asks about students financial and racial background. It’s the first survey of its kind, but there is no information on student data as of yet.
“Black Frosh is important for our Black students to stay here, and to feel like there’s a space of sanctuary for us here.”