Mixed feelings about ‘Toronto Metropolitan University’ as students enter new year

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By Nihan Siddiqi

Nearly four months and almost a whole summer break later, students at the newly re-named Toronto Metropolitan University are still divided about the new name.

The university announced its new name on April 26, following a recommendation from the Standing Strong Task Force in August 2021 to rename the school. 

The move came after years of pressure and advocacy from Indigenous students, faculty, staff and allies for the university to distance itself from its namesake Egerton Ryerson.

Ryerson played an influential role in the formation of the residential school system. His literature recommended that Indigenous peoples be taught in separate Christian English boarding schools to assimilate them into Euro-Canadian culture. Ryerson’s recommendations are considered the framework the Canadian government used to create residential schools.  

The university received 30,000 responses for prospective new names, prior to the announcement of the change. 

According to university president Mohamed Lachemi, the new name embodies being located in the heart of Toronto, with a diverse and inclusive community that creates the essence of being “Metropolitan.”

“I think I was slightly embarrassed when it came to saying it to friends and family”

Some students consider the new name a mouthful and are still having trouble accepting it, while others are pleased with the change.

Gohul Tharmakulaseelan, a fourth-year business technology management student, said he feels the name was “a little lazy” and “not something he could be proud of saying.” Tharmakulaseelan said that when mentioning where he goes to school, he tries to avoid saying the name altogether when possible.

“I think I was slightly embarrassed when it came to saying it to friends and family. However for employers I just said I go to Ted Rogers School of Management,” said Tharmakulaseelan.

For other students, the problem lies in the length of the new name rather than its originality.

Kiran Minhaz, a third-year psychology student, said she “would prefer to say TMU than the whole name since the name is long and sounds like a subway station.”

While some students are unhappy with the new name, others are simply satisfied with the university distancing itself from its former namesake.

Rebecca Ilmer, a second-year politics and governance student said that as much as she appreciated the name change, the name seemed like a rip-off of the University of Toronto. 

“​​It was long overdue and it’s good that they changed it because a school shouldn’t be named after someone so horrible. I mean it makes me feel better that they changed the name because of (a)good reason,” said Ilmer. 

“It was long overdue…a school shouldn’t be named after someone so horrible”

Even though he understands why the university changed its name, third-year business student Huzaifa Syed, said the university’s choice was “really disappointing given the amount of people that worked together to create it.”

Aside from students and alumni having to refer to TMU as “previously named Ryerson,” when applying for jobs, Syed doesn’t believe it will affect students’ chances of landing a job. 

Amna Khan, who is going into her second year of politics and governance and wants to eventually go to law school in the future, said the new name won’t affect her ability to land a job, “as long as my GPA is good.”

Some students are expressing concern the new name will act as a distraction during the application process for a job.

Masih Khalatbari, who graduated from TMU’s journalism program this past June, expressed his concern of the loss of “an internationally recognized name with prestige” when networking within his field. 

“Because I want to break into international journalism and network with people in the United States and around the world, I feel like I especially have to spell out the name change for them so they know what I’m talking about,” said Khalatbari. 

TMU has stated that the name change should not affect its students’ or graduates’ ability to follow the career path of their choice as employers will recognize the qualification, skills and experience of TMU applicants rather than the name on their degree. 

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