Two students at Ryerson University in Toronto were told they could not attend a meeting of the school’s Racialized Students’ Collective because they weren’t – “racialized.”
Trevor Hewitt and Julia Knope were informed that, “because they were not victims of racialization,” they weren’t permitted to remain in order to report on the event for an assignment.
“It felt really bad – kind of embarrassing,” Knope said. “If their goal in these meetings was to end racialization then it needs to be something everybody is involved in. If some people are causing the problems, they need to know. Grouping yourself off – is not going to accomplish anything.”
The Racialized Students’ Collective is part of the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU). Its website states that the group “oppose(s) all forms of racism and work towards community wellness for students,” that they focus on “building an anti-racist network” and “fostering an anti-racist environment through campus-wide services, campaigns and events.”
Knope said while she understands they are a support group for each other and don’t want others there, she doesn’t understand why the events are then listed as public and as an RSU campaign.
“It seemed really ironic to me that the meeting was about racialization and they were prohibiting certain people from entering,” she said.
RSU coordinator Vajdaan Tanveer told The Ryersonian over the phone that members of the collective have requested a safe space on campus, where they can have an open conversation.
“We don’t want (racialized) students to feel intimidated, that they can’t speak their mind because they are afraid of being judged or something they say might be used against them,” he said.
RSU coordinator Vajdaan Tanveer told The Ryersonian that the Racialized Students’ Collective just wanted “a safe space on campus” where they could talk “openly.”
He also confirmed that Hewitt and Knope were denied attendance merely because of the color of their skin – somehow missing the irony he was referring to an organization dedicated to anti-racism.