By Valerie Dittrich
Ryerson has proposed to the Toronto Police (TPS) for designated employees to have ‘special constable’ status.
In a post on the Ryerson security website on Sept. 9, the university stated that they applied for the special constable status with the TPS on Aug. 16.
“The special constables would be Ryerson employees, and would be part of the Community Security and Safety team,” the post read. “If approved, the addition of special constables will enhance the department’s ability to address the changing needs of our campus.
The move comes after the Black Liberation Collective’s (BLC) call to the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) to take the lead in the movement to eliminate police presence on campus. The Eyeopener previously reported on the collective asking the exec team follow in the footsteps of the York Federation of Students, citing anti-Black violence in and around Ryerson.
“We hope that this isn’t going to be a recycled union of recycled anti-Black politics,” said Josh Lamers previously told The Eye, co-founder of the BLC. “That’s why we’re calling it now.”
The university wrote that the implementation of the special constable status is based on “extensive consultations” led by president and principal consultant of external consulting group DiversiPro, Hamlin Grange, with “students faculty and staff concerning safety and wellbeing on campus, and to explore alternative security service-delivery models.”
BLC previously told The Eye 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.”
Currently, nine Ontario universities have implemented special constables on campus, including the University of Toronto and McMaster University.
Ryerson security said the consultations build on information surrounding public safety they have been gathering for over three years, such as security incidents between 2016 and 2018 and results from the National College Health Assessment Survey for students in 2016 and 2019.
“We recognize that each individual’s lived experience informs their perspectives of safety and security on campus,” the post read. “While some may feel more secure with an increased presence of uniformed personnel, others may feel the opposite because of their lived experiences. Our goal is to provide safety resources and services that recognize both of these realities.”
The university cites that the results of the consultations showed that community members favoured a mix of special constables and security on campus garnered the most support.
If the university’s proposal is approved by the TPS, special constables will be considered employees and will be held accountable to the school as well as the TPS.
According to the post, special constables will have the ability to respond to emergency calls on campus that includes vandalism, robbery and assaults. They will also have the authority to “address some of the issues that security guards currently cannot.”
In addition, Ryerson security wants to restrict after-hours access to four buildings: the Rogers Communication Centre (RCC), Eric Palin Hall (EPH), Sally Horsfall Eaton Centre (SHE) and the Victoria Building (VIC). These buildings would only be accessible after-hours to those who hold a OneCard.