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A guide to confronting a prof, staff member or student

By Kashish Hura

For some students—especially if you identify as marginalized—will have a professor say something they shouldn’t have. Something insensitive, inconsiderate or ignorant and It’ll drive you crazy over time. You’ll turn to your course outline, required readings for reasons why a prof would say something like that, but are left with nothing to point to.

Maybe you tell a friend about it. Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you don’t do anything about it and wave it off as no big deal. Either way, these stories are not unfamiliar to the student body.

Freya de Tonnancour, a first-year image arts student, has a perfume allergy that needs to be accommodated at the beginning of every one of her classes and dealing with non-compliant professors is something she has gotten accustomed to.

“When you have an invisible disability and you come into class looking fine, people just think that you’re making it up and it’s all in your head,” said Tonnancour.

She doesn’t understand why professors would not be easily willing to accommodate her based on her medical needs.

“Ryerson prides itself in diversity and accommodation,” said Tonnancour, “They might believe in equity, but surely it doesn’t apply to everyone.”

Lauren Dunlap Sciacchitano, a second-year medical physics student, had a professor last semester who would target her during class discussions.

“They might believe in equity, but surely it doesn’t apply to everyone”

“You ever have those professors that seem like their goal in class is to emphasize how stupid you are? They regularly point out how stupid or ill prepared your question was?” Sciacchitano said,  “A professor of mine was like that and it was constantly infuriating.” Sciacchitano continued, “This particular situation, I cried about.”

Even though it can be a winding process, confrontation isn’t your enemy. If you’re stuck on how to call out a professor, here’s a list of resources available on campus that can smooth out the process.

Ryerson Human Rights Services

Human Rights Services can be contacted for advice and/or to file a complaint.They provide support throughout the process. They also have an elaborate process for dealing with complaints regarding sexual violence reports, complaints regarding discrimination, and harassment through their Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy program. However, you will be able to engage in this type of human rights process only after the Human Right Services have made an appropriate referral for you.

Student Conduct Office

A complaint can be submitted within 20 days of the incident in question with the Student Conduct Office by following the required steps for filing a complaint. Through their online system and after reviewing the complaint, you will be notified and a meeting will be set up. Then, an application of interim measures and investigation will begin, followed by resolution of the problem and notification of the outcome.

Ryerson Ombudsperson

An Ombudsperson is a conflict resolution specialist who can investigate student complaints as an independent third-party. In the office there is Nora Farrell who is the Ombudsperson, and two assistant Ombudsperson Ayesha Adam and Gemma Kerr.

Students can contact them if they feel they’ve been mistreated or if you’ve attempted to find a solution but gotten nowhere. When appropriate they can mediate or facilitate discussions between student, staff or faculty members.  

Ryerson Centre for Student Development and Counselling

When a professor or staff has created inequities in the classroom, it can take a toll on your mental health. Seek support at the Ryerson centre for student development and counselling. They provide educational counselling, resources and/or support when faced by traumatizing experiences on campus.

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