By Valerie Dittrich
Ryerson’s Black Liberation Collective (BLC) called upon the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) new executive team, made up entirely of members from the Refresh slate, to put forward a motion that would eliminate the presence of the Toronto Police Services (TPS) on campus.
In a series of social media posts on Twitter and Facebook, the BLC demanded the RSU follow the actions of the York Federation of Students and for the executives to take the lead on putting forward a motion in the coming months to remove TPS from campus, citing anti-Black violence in and around Ryerson campus.
If the motion is forwarded by the RSU executives and passed at a board meeting, it would remove TPS officers from campus and diminish security presence.
The BLC made the posts May 1, which was the new executive team’s first official day in office.
“We hope that this isn’t going to be a recycled union of recycled anti-Black politics,” said Josh Lamers, co-founder of the BLC. “That’s why we’re calling it now.”
Vanessa Henry, the RSU’s new president, and vice-president equity Naja Pereira did not respond for comment in time for publication.
Refresh, which won all six executive positions as well as the majority of the director positions, ran on a platform of financial transparency and prioritizing equity services on campus. The Eye previously reported that Pereira said she wanted to help the services who aid marginalized students in order to “uplift their voices” instead of speaking for them.
The Facebook post cites past incidents with Ryerson security and TPS on campus, including the violent arrest of a Black man on campus by TPS in 2017, as well as the role that Ryerson security played in the 2005 arrest and deportation of activist Wendy Maxwell.
In an emailed statement to The Eyeopener, the university said that Ryerson security is “always open to feedback” and are conducting “broad consultations with community members to listen to concerns, share information about the current state of safety and security on campus, discuss the challenges that the department and the university faces, and discuss options the university is considering to improve safety on campus.”
The university also said in the statement that they reached out to BLC “to discuss their concerns and to participate in consultations, [but] unfortunately they were declined.”
BLC confirmed that they did decline the consultations with Ryerson security, citing that they have “no interest in consulting with the very people who consistently harm Black students, staff, faculty and community members.”
Lamers added that he wanted to be public with the demands on social media to be transparent.
“Show us what radical thought looks like when it comes to a student union and have those difficult conversations around policing and security on campus, knowing that police and security on campus do not serve Black, Indigenous or racialized students, or folks facing homelessness,” he said.