Ryerson launches three-week community input period for renaming

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By Sarah Tomlinson 

In an email sent to students and faculty, the University Renaming Advisory Committee (URAC) announced the launch of its three-week community input period for the renaming of Ryerson University. 

According to the email, the input period will run from Nov. 16 till Dec. 7 and will guide the URAC through the process of developing a shortlist of potential names for the university. The shortlist, along with rationale for the selections, will be submitted to Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi and the Board of Governors for a final decision by the end of the 2021/22 academic year. 

“It is important to the committee to learn not only from current faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters but also to hear from historically excluded community members, prospective students and employees, and family of community members,” the university wrote. 

Community members are able to share their thoughts through an anonymous survey, by emailing renaming@ryerson.ca or by mailing a letter to research firm, The Strategic Counsel

“All submissions will be treated with respect and all perspectives will be valued for their perspective,” the email reads. 

In the survey, community members are asked to weigh in on the values it feels the university most represents and whether they want the name to honour the school’s location, a notable person or its mission. 

The first question asks what values community members most closely associate with Ryerson. Options like “intentionally diverse and inclusive” and “champions of sustainability” are presented. Options are also given to select “none of these,” “don’t know” or “other.”  

Community members are also invited to participate in a social media campaign by sharing their thoughts online using the hashtag #NextChapterName. 

On Aug. 26, 2021, the university’s Board of Governors accepted the 22 recommendations put forward by the Standing Strong (Mash Koh Wee Kah Pooh Win) Task Force to guide commemoration at the university and address the legacy of its namesake, Egerton Ryerson. One of the recommendations was to rename the university through a process that engaged with community members. 

On Sept. 13 the university introduced the URAC, whose mandate is to help guide the engagement process and the subsequent curation of a shortlist of possible names that will be submitted to the president. The membership aimed to include individuals with a variety of perspectives, experiences and identities.

As previously reported by The Eyeopener, the committee initially only had two Indigenous community members, which prompted Miranda Black, the only Indigenous student on the committee, to resign. 

Black cited concerns over the confidentiality agreement she was asked to sign, which she said conflicted with her ability to be accountable to Indigenous communities and residential school survivors. 

Since then, Julianna Alton, another Indigenous student, has replaced Black on the committee. 

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