BREAKING: Ryerson University announces name change, approves Standing Strong Task Force recommendations

In Campus News, Indigenous, News, Student Politics18 Comments

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By Heidi Lee, Thea Gribilas and Sarah Tomlinson

Ryerson University will officially be renamed, after the Board of Governors accepted all 22 recommendations from the Standing Strong (Mash Koh Wee Kah Pooh Win) Task Force’s final report.

“For as long as the university is named after Egerton Ryerson, our narrative will be centred on his legacy,” reads the report. “Given that our namesake is increasingly recognized as a symbol of colonialism, our identity as an institution can no longer be disentangled from separate schools, segregation, the genocide of Indigenous Peoples and cultural erasure.”

The Standing Strong Task Force was created in September 2020 to consult with community members on reconciling Egerton Ryerson’s legacy. At Thursday’s special Board of Governors meeting, the Task Force submitted its final report which included 22 recommendations, one of which was the school’s renaming. 

According to the report, the name “Ryerson” does not reflect the values that define the university. Therefore, the Task Force is recommending that the university rename the school through “a process that engages with community members and stakeholders.” 

“We recognize that a name change alone will not erase the systemic barriers and inequities that Indigenous and Black community members face within the institution,” the report reads. As a result, it suggests increasing access to information, promoting Indigenous and Black scholarship and using public space for community building. 

“I believe this is a very fair and thoughtful document that charts direction for the future of our university that is very closely aligned with our values,” Lachemi said at the meeting. “I believe these recommendations will move Ryerson forth in a bold, new and exciting direction.”

Ryerson has faced growing calls to change the name of the institution, which has been formally called for as far back as 2017. Egerton Ryerson, the university’s namesake, is considered an architect of the residential school system.

“With a new name, the university can boldly move forward, guided by our institutional values and principles of commemoration,” reads the report. “We will have the opportunity to acknowledge and embrace both historical and current social justice movements, as well as the resilience, excellence, achievements and contributions of each and every community member.”

As previously reported by The Eye, the Yellowhead Institute published a letter on May 11 calling on Ryerson community members to remove the word “Ryerson” from their email signatures, CVs and other professional communications, and to replace it with the letter “X.”

Ryerson has changed its name three times before. In 1964, it changed its name from Ryerson Institute of Technology to Ryerson Polytechnical Institute. Then, in 1993, it was renamed Ryerson Polytechnic University. Finally, in 2002, it was named Ryerson University. 

In 2015, Ryerson spent $200,000 to update its logo, which included changing the font and colour of the logo.  

More to come.

Comments

  1. There is a notion that this report will solve contentions on campus. Purging Egerton Ryerson is really purging Ontario history and making his times our times. Ryersons’s times are seen through only contemporary sensitivities in this decision. A university must always guard against not turning over every stone of an issue. If that makes indigenous groups feel better I remind them that ridding us all of our common history is a slippery slope to a world of political correctness which can morph into something where truth has only one side and all other sides become unspoken.

    1. What an ignorant comment from Tom T. There isn’t a limited amount of respect to go around. When we stop edifying people whose actions don’t stand the test of time, it isn’t purging history, it is making space for a better future.

  2. “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.” Wayne Reid

  3. Some things to consider before making a hasty decision. To recognize indigenous people, why not give indigenous names to new buildings, It could make these be even more important as a time of enlightenment. As the preent buildings were actually recognizing people who donated great sums, it could be used as exampes of how money dictated the naming of many buildings.

  4. Always remember who’s Land you are on and also, in attempting to erase the original land dwellers, naming a whole country by there own names, what do you suppose the slippery slope could be. Perhaps if Treaties were honored at all this could have been a Great Shared Nation long ago, however, only now you begin to face a truth that is undeniable, to call it a common history, it is not common by no means, it remains one sided to THIS DAY, Just admit necessary corrections MUST be made for those who are not yet aware of their own history or in what they were taught. Bear with the Greatest Change coming as it is Beautiful!

  5. Ryerson is a joke. Just another 2nd rate Canadian “University” with laughable academic standards. By the way, can someone please provide a concrete example of “systemic barriers and inequities?”

    1. Well said, Joe with the anime avatar. Maybe read on the Colton Boushie case to open your eyes a little.

    2. Examples of Systemic barriers and inequalities:

      Underrepresentation in fields of work such as the police force and encountering severe racism when joining
      HR departments demonstrably less likely to select your resume if your name sounds “ethnic”
      Police more likely to arrest you for the same crime if you aren’t white
      Judges giving you harsher sentences if you are not white
      Women less likely to be diagnosed with some medical conditions (doctors dismissing their issues)

      Just five examples. These are all demonstrable issues proven by investigation or statistical analysis.

  6. History is what happened as recently as a second ago. It can’t be changed. Learn from history or be doomed to repeat it.

    How sad that it cost $200,000 – the price of a house at that time – to “change the font and the colour of ink” on the logo. In today’s dollars that will be over a million dollars. And you ask alumni for donations! Heads up, parents! Forget those begging letters!

    A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

    1. It is funny how much people are against supporting a name change for an issue they just don’t care about (like severe mistreatment of Native Canadians). If the name of the university was: White Supremacy University or Black Supremacy University or “Don’t support the troops” University I would imagine people here would be far more receptive to changing the name.

      In other words “Maintaining history” is just an excuse to avoid a name change over an issue you are totally indifferent about.

  7. Yes I agree with the terms too change the name.

    Not sure what the new name is going to be but
    The my idea of a name.

    PEOPLE OF RYERSON has a ring to it.

  8. Well Ryerson isn’t that prestigious already there goes by degree in the trash. Change makes a moment of time more relevant and reflective. By stating change your making the issue more memorable. Should have just kept ryerson. There have been and will be 100s others named Ryerson. By instating change you bring the history of Ryerson back. I agree with Mr. Crow Ryerson is a joke, students already had no pride look at why the RSU scandal happened. People had not enough care to elect the best candidate. Same as UTSC, thats the worst campus of UofT most student hate the campus and are only there for the name on there degrees. Ryerson is already a meaningless name on a degree a new name puts it back in the trash. Ryerson is just a word. So why give a shit. People are still buyijg producta and goods from trash oil and Chinese conpanies who have inhumane standards. What about Gap with child labour. But give a shit about a word on a University name. F***k I was enrolled in my university for grad, im definitely gonna drop out now

  9. I don’t know about reconciliation, even after reading up on Indigenous issues from some resources affiliated with York University. It’s pretty obvious that if the country were to stand united, which is a very pressing issue in our time of increasingly polarized political viewpoints, we cannot cater to different foreign or native cultures – it creates inconsistency of values and further divide sthe people. If this is identified as the current pressing issue requiring our attention and resources during the pandemic where EVERYONE is suffering (not just a specific group), I fear that our western civilization will collapse.

    Oh, you thought a white person is posting this? No. I’m saying this as an immigrant who have successfully integrated in the Canadian society, having graduated from a Canadian post-secondary institution. Perhaps my Canadian friends are reluctant to defend their interest because liberalism successfully guilted and brainwashed them, but we shouldn’t take this country for granted and tear down the very foundations that the European forefathers have constructed for OUR future. That, to someone who grew up in much worse conditions, is not only incredibly unwise, but also incredibly ungrateful.

  10. Heather C., are you stupid? Egerton Ryerson fought John Strahan for over 30 years to get public funded education. When he got the chance, he made education free up to the end of Grammar (High) school. He also got public funding to training teachers so that there were educated to teach the students.Where Ryerson University is now was the first Teacherss’ College in Ontario created by Edgerton Ryerson. He was asked by the British North American (BNA) government to look at the teaching of Indigenous people. He made his report and gave it to the BNA government and he had nothing to do with residential schools. Perhaps people should read all the history before they make any stupid decision. Egerton Ryerson was a great man that did great work in education. Leave the university name as Ryerson University.

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