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Ryerson’s School of Journalism heads resign amid students’ calls to action

By Charlize Alcaraz and Alexandra Holyk

Ryerson’s School of Journalism (RSJ) chair and undergraduate program director both stepped down from their positions after increasing public concerns from journalism students regarding the school’s treatment of marginalized students.

On Sunday night, at around 11 p.m., former RSJ chair Janice Neil posted a series of tweets announcing her resignation from the position. 

Neil also sent out an email after midnight addressed to undergraduate and graduate journalism students stating she will continue teaching as an associate professor at the school. 

At around 7:30 a.m. on Monday morning, former undergraduate program director and associate chair Lisa Taylor also sent out a program-wide email to students notifying them of her resignation. 

It’s unclear if Taylor will be continuing her role as a professor at the journalism school. 

The resignations were announced just hours before a journalism student-led committee published an open letter calling for changes to the “unsafe learning environment” that perpetuates “systemic racism, further traumatizing students and reinforcing the values of discrimination that Ryerson University was built on.” 

The 17-page letter is signed by over 200 RSJ students, alumni, independent publications, and non-RSJ affiliated groups and individuals. (Disclosure: The Eyeopener signed and editorially supported the letter, and a number of editors on the masthead helped write and edit it.)

In an email addressed to RSJ students on Tuesday evening, Charles Falzon, dean of the Faculty of Communication and Design, said he accepted Neil and Taylor’s resignations. 

“I want to thank Janice and Lisa for their years of service and hard work at the school. Janice has agreed to continue in her role for a short while as we plan a transition.”

Falzon also said a “clear results-oriented action plan” will be developed by RSJ faculty and staff and sent out to students in a few days. 

“[The action plan] will include more regular offerings of courses relating to diversity in journalism, equity training for faculty and staff and the establishment of an equity task force,” Falzon wrote.

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