Students involved in Creative School renaming process say they felt ignored

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By Thea Gribilas

After the Faculty of Communication and Design was officially renamed The Creative School on Aug. 16, students involved in the consultation process say they felt their feedback was ignored.

In an email to The Eyeopener, The Creative School said the Faculty of Communication and Design (FCAD) repositioning working group—which included students, chairs, faculty and staff—was established in September 2020. 

However, according to the school, consultations had been taking place for the past two years.

In November 2020, discussions were coordinated through the Society of The Creative School, formerly the Ryerson Communication and Design Society (RCDS), inviting representatives from various course unions across the faculty. 

One student was invited to the consultation in November 2020, and asked to remain anonymous due to concerns of reprisal. She said she felt her feedback was dismissed.

The student said she felt the name was “juvenile” and the word “creative” itself was not creative. She added that she was clear to administrators about her dislike for the proposed names early on.

“At the initial meeting, everyone left with a very sour taste in their mouths,” she said. “People were making very well-articulated points…and they weren’t being heard.”

She said although she was consulted in the change, she felt administrators had already made the decision about the name.

In an email to The Eye, The Creative School said that “as expected there was a broad spectrum of perspectives in the community feedback, but overall the responses were very positive within all the schools and units for the new name with a revitalized mission.”

The School added that “it was recognized that the new name will provide the faculty a clearer, cohesive and impactful brand with a more enticing and inspirational vision of the future.”

The student acknowledged that there were students who wanted a name change because they felt FCAD didn’t encapsulate what they were doing in their programs. However, she said she has yet to speak to a student involved in the consultation process who was excited by the new name. 

She said she took her concerns to the chair of her program who gave them “the impression that it didn’t really matter what we did.”

“He was just kind of telling us under the table, ‘Charles [Falzon] wants it to be The Creative School and that’s going to happen.’”

The Creative School stated in an email to The Eye “that’s disappointing to hear as we worked hard to ensure student voices were heard. Input was taken from students throughout the consultation period and an informed recommendation was made with the university senate, which includes student representatives, approving The Creative School formally in April 2021.”

According to the student, at one instance in the consultation, Charles Falzon, dean of The Creative School, stepped away from his computer. She recalls an administrative assistant telling them that Falzon had taken the time to consult students and they were disappointed that the student leaders weren’t more open-minded with the ideas. 

The student added that Falzon said in the meeting that the change was made in part because the term ‘faculty’ isn’t internationally recognized. 

“We understand wanting to have a prestigious international reputation, but at the same time we’re Canadian,” she said.

Duaa Rizvi, a fourth-year journalism student, was involved in the consultations through the RCDS, where she was a representative for the journalism program. She said she attended two consultation meetings. 

Rizvi said that at a consultation, she told Falzon that the new name sounded “cheesy.”

“They saw that too but personally I think they were pretty sold on the word ‘creative’ since the beginning and since they decided that they wanted to change the name,” said Rizvi.

“But they were understanding of the fact that from the students’ perspective, we weren’t the biggest fans of the word,” said Rizvi. 

Rizvi said during the second consultation, she felt faculty representatives were sold on the Creative School name.

“It was pretty clear to me personally that they weren’t even [listening], even though they were taking our suggestions, they weren’t going to really listen because they were set.” 

Rizvi added that although they were taking their opinions into consideration, the students were always met with a counterargument. 

“They gave us a voice but I don’t know how much they really listened to it,” said Rizvi. 

She also said she felt as if this name change was a wrong move, given what was happening with the Ryerson name at the time. She said she felt there were more important issues to tackle. 

“I felt like those concerns that were raised weren’t actually answered.”

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