Sportsnet and Ryerson announce $100,000 in equity scholarships

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By Libaan Osman

Ryerson’s Faculty of Communications & Design and Rogers Sportsnet announced a $100,000 partnership in scholarships and workshops that will promote diversity and inclusion in the university’s sport media program on Thursday.

The initiative is set to launch in fall 2020. It will provide two students in third-year and two students entering the program that identify as a woman, Indigenous person, or equity-seeking group a scholarship.

“We have the support of top management, we’ve got the support as an educational institution and the support of the students,” said Laurel Walzak, director, global experiential sports lab and assistant professor of sport media. “We’re really excited about the opportunity to be able to eliminate barriers and make change.”

Walzak told The Eyeopener on Thursday that discussions with Sportsnet began in July 2019. Sportsnet is also expected to offer resources and mentorship for students. 

Students will also get the chance to participate in workshops that talk about gender equity, diversity and the importance of equality in the classroom, workplace and playing field. 

“No matter your race, no matter your creed, no matter your gender identity or sexual orientation, all should have equal rights. That’s what we’re pushing for and we share that value with Sportsnet,” said Walzak. 

In a press release, Sportsnet president Bart Yabsley said Sportsnet is “dedicated to cultivating a new generation of media professionals that reflects Canada’s diversity.” 

“It shows Sportsnet is taking initiative and taking leadership,” said Natasha Kis-Toth, a second-year sport media student. “I’m more excited about the message it sends.”

First-year sports media student, Aditi Chadah, said this partnership is huge for students like herself.

“I belong to a marginalized community here. I’m an immigrant and I’m really excited that something like this [is] for students like me,” said Chada. “It gives us an opportunity to rise up.”

Walzak said Ryerson and Sportsnet are currently in the process of discussing how they will roll out the scholarships and will be providing more details soon. 

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