By Alexandra Holyk, Heidi Lee and Libaan Osman
While you were going out to patios in the middle of a pandemic, here’s what was going on at Ryerson.
RSU & you
Since the 2020-21 Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) executive team began their term in May, they’ve held three Board of Directors (BoD) meetings.
The latest meeting on July 17 saw the approval of the RSU’s budget for the upcoming year—approximately $2.2 million, a 10 per cent decrease from the previous year’s budget proposal.
RSU president Ali Yousaf and vice-president operations Liora Dubinsky said this was because the team expects lower enrolment numbers due to an online fall semester.
However, according to admission numbers revealed at Ryerson’s Board of Governors meeting held on June 30, the university saw a 4.3 per cent increase in first-year domestic and international students who have confirmed their acceptance offers and paid the tuition deposit fee, compared to last year.
The RSU also unveiled a new health care plan that costs students $340 annually, compared to last year’s cost of $365. The plan covers the cost of up to four doctor’s notes a year.
On its social media pages, the RSU announced on Aug. 10 that it will be offering students $100,000 in COVID-19 relief grants—each approved student applicant will receive up to $500.
According to Yousaf, all full-time Ryerson students are eligible to apply for the grant. Once applications are submitted, the RSU’s bursary committee will determine how much each student will receive. The bursary committee includes Yousaf and Dubinsky, as well as RSU BoD members Sabrina Ahmed and Umer Abdullah.
Yousaf said the application for the grant will be available to students “in the coming weeks,” but did not give a specific date.
Egerton Ryerson statue defaced more times than we can count
On July 18, the Egerton Ryerson statue on Gould Street was defaced by Black Lives Matter—Toronto protesters.
Egerton Ryerson contributed to the concept of Canada’s residential school system, a system of cultural genocide which attempted to assimilate around 150,000 Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian society.
In June, students once again started an online petition to take down the statue, after years of failed attempts. The petition has since received almost 10,000 signatures.
In an email to The Eyeopener, the university said it has not made a decision about the statue.
After the paint was washed off, the statue was tagged again with green paint. The statue was further vandalized the following week with red paint on the statue’s hands and phrases such as “Land back,” “Free the kids” and “Racist” written around its base. The identity of those responsible is still unknown.
Since being tagged by BLM protestors on July 17, more paint has appeared on the Egerton Ryerson statue, including messages condemning residential schools and settler colonialism. Ryerson has not responded to calls from community members to drop the charges against the protestors. pic.twitter.com/QRQuv9ABmW— The Eyeopener (@theeyeopener) August 21, 2020
Special constables cancelled
On June 4, Ryerson announced that the university wouldn’t proceed with the implementation of special constables on campus—only two weeks after the university announced that the Toronto Police Service approved its proposal.
After criticism from community members and worldwide protests against anti-Black racism and police brutality, Ryerson decided not to move forward with the program.
In response to the cancellation of the program, the Black Liberation Collective at Ryerson released an open letter to president Mohamed Lachemi and executive director, community safety Denise Campbell that same day.
“End the agreement with Toronto Police Services immediately, and make an open commitment to never partnering again,” the letter read.
A month later, on July 17, Ryerson released its Anti-Black Racism Campus Climate Review report that included 14 recommendations on ways to create a safer campus environment for Black students, faculty and staff.
The report was originally expected to be released in September 2019.
The university announced that all fall 2020 convocation ceremonies are postponed until 2021 or until large public gatherings are allowed.
The decision was made to follow the government’s guideline on social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to a statement from Lachemi.
After a month-long hiatus in March due to the pandemic, Ryerson’s campus construction along Gould and Victoria streets is expected to be finished by late September, according to the university’s facilities management and development team. Now that the pipes on Gould Street are gone, it’s time for the “multi-functional light fixtures” to shine.