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Author: Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective

Statement Following Our Meeting with Ryerson Administration (January 23, 2017)

Statement Following Our Meeting with Ryerson Administration (January 23, 2017)

On Monday, January 23, 2017, we met with the following members of the administration:
  • Janice Winton Vice President, Administration & Finance
  • Heather Lane Vetere, Vice-Provost Students
  • Tony Conte, Executive Director Administration & Finance
  • James Turk, Visiting Professor at Ryerson University and Director of Ryerson’s Centre for Free Expression
  • Julia Shin Doi, Ryerson’s General Counsel and Secretary of the Board of Governors
We were also joined by Ryerson Students’ Union’s VP Equity, Tamara Jones, and Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson’s President, Rabbia Ashraf.
To our greatest disappointment, Ryerson University’s President, Mohamed Lachemi, was not present, nor were we given apologies or explanation for his absence.
Members of the administration acknowledged our demands and spent time defending why each one were not feasible. We were told that Ryerson is not looking for other solutions at this time.
This answer is absolutely shameful and we have no interest in entertaining it.
Every week, since September 2016, we have witnessed at first hand, students being harassed by anti-choicers, with graphic images, cameras and men from their camp addressing pro-choice students, staff and faculty members with judgement and lack of recognisance of their triggers. We ourselves, have experienced angst around coming to campus, hoping not to encounter anti-choicers’ horrific images and misleading pamphlets.
We recognize that, although standing and shielding students from these graphic images, week after week has provided a temporary solution to the problem, it is not a sustainable one. This is why we demand action.
On Monday, February 13, 2017 we are hosting a town hall meeting to provide students with space to direct their concerns to President Lachemi. The town hall will be a platform for students to speak on how they have been impacted by the anti-choicers’ presence. It will also be a space to list their thoughts on how they would like Ryerson Administration to address anti-choicers presence on campus and shift towards becoming a safer space for all.
To the students who have put themselves out there: From standing in front of the graphic images, to writing open letters in our student newspapers The Eyeopener and The Ryersonian, to sending us direct messages on the issue– We see you! We hear you! And we guarantee we will not stop, just because the administration doesn’t want to take our concerns to greater value.
To President Lachemi: We are waiting your attendance to our Town Hall.
The Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective
Open Letter to the Ryerson Students’ Union and Ryerson President, Mohamed Lachemi.

Open Letter to the Ryerson Students’ Union and Ryerson President, Mohamed Lachemi.

Recently the campus newspaper, the Ryersonian, published an article on Wednesday, November 16th, 2016, in their respective issue (Ryersonian Volume 71, Number 9) about the anti-choice protesters that have been coming to campus.

These articles centered the voice of the Ryerson Student Union President Obaid Ullah, in which he states that he and President Lachemi have been addressing the issue of anti-choicer’s violent tactics and presence on campus since the beginning. Yet, we have clear documentation that this is not the case. Further, this came to us as a shock, as Obaid Ullah has never once been present to address these issues or students, face-to-face. President Lachemi, on his part, has not addressed the concerns of the numerous students who have been calling his office this past month demanding that these actions be taken seriously and stopped.

Since the first spotting of anti-choicers’ presence on campus, students have come together to organize, putting themselves on the frontlines to ensure their peers, as well as members of the Ryerson community, can feel safe on campus. Every week students have had to endure rude remarks, being filmed, and the inaction of the administration and our students’ union. Even when students have verbalized their discontent and non-consent of being filmed, and have voiced their concerns to Ryerson security, the initial response has been to call the police; a practice that further criminalizes, triggers, and traumatizes students from marginalized communities, rather than protecting and assuring their safety.

We the students, and for most part members of the Ryerson Students’ Union, have been mobilizing on this issue. We are quite offended and appalled to see that President Obaid Ullah, declares to “have had enough” of these demonstrations, when he has never been on the forefront of these threats, harassment, and vile images. And do we dare to point out the obvious: Ullah identifies as a cis-man, speaking on the issue without consulting the women and gender affected students, to whom these images and anti-choice misogynist rhetoric targets.

We welcome actions to ensure a safe campus, that the RSU Executives and President Lachemi are attempting to address; however, taking credit for the work that has been done by students is plainly wrong. Therefore, we demand that both parties, RSU Executives and President Lachemi, issue a retraction request of statements proclaiming this work, and correct the information.

We further demand that RSU Executives and President Lachemi include the students of our group, the staff of the Equity Service Centres, CESAR, and all other students who wish to share their opinion on this matter and how to move forward, in a form of a Town Hall, organized and facilitated by our group, by January 2017, and in no way in conflict with the Ryerson exam period.

Signed by,

Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective