Tuesday, September 27, 2016
The first contact between anti-choice demonstrators and pro-choice students took place on Gould Street at around 1:00 pm. Acting quickly, the Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson (CESAR) and the Equity Service Centres (ESC) mobilized and resourced a counter-protest (that would unfortunately recur almost weekly in the subsequent two months). Several Ryerson students who were passing by joined the counter-protest, and the Ryerson Students Union (RSU) issued a statement on Twitter and Facebook informing the community of the anti-choice protestors’ graphic images; as a result the anti-choice protestors decided to leave around 2:30 pm. The event was covered by both campus newspapers (“Pro-Life, Pro-Choice Protestors Disrupt Gould Street”, The Ryersonian, September 27, 2016; and “Pro-life group counter-protested off Ryerson campus”, The Eyeopener, September 28, 2016).
Photo: Shaian Martin
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Anti-choice campaigners returned to campus around 1:00 pm, with graphic images set-up at Gould and Victoria Streets. CESAR, ESC, and Ryerson students began to counter protest. The anti-choice bloc began targeting students that were blocking their images by making statements which labelled abortions as genocide, and further compared abortions to the Holocaust and slavery. After two hours of students being traumatized and angered, and most passers-by telling them to leave, the anti-choice group decided to pack up. Following this event, CESAR booked a room for students to debrief and decompress from the events that had just taken place. During the meeting, students expressed their frustration, trauma, and grief over the tactics they encountered, and at the inaction of the Ryerson University administration and security. In the midst of the meeting, two members of the anti-choice group walked into the space demanding to be included, creating a hostile environment for the students present there. Many students left the space feeling even more traumatized. The meeting continued after being re-located, and that was when the Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective was officially established.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
The anti-choice demonstrators returned to campus around 1:00 pm, meeting again on the intersection of Gould and Victoria–this time bringing two very large banners with graphic images. Toronto police and Ryerson security arrived on scene shortly thereafter. A faculty member (female-identified) indicated to Ryerson Security that they did not feel safe on campus because of the anti-choice demonstrators. Security argued that, “If she doesn’t like it, she can just walk away.” More student passing by were requesting to the police and security that the anti-choice demonstrators be escorted off Ryerson campus. Despite the numerous complaints to the police and security, no action was taken. However, one police officer gave assurance of security to the anti-choice demonstrators.
CESAR began using their tents and table cloths to cover up the large banners of graphic images. RSU executives were near the scene, however chose to stand by and watch. Throughout the two hours, students were calling administration and security asking them to address and take action on the anti-choice tactics and rhetoric. No actions were taken.
Photo: Annie Arnone
Photo: Kevin Jogn Saizon
Tuesday, October 25th, 2016
Becoming aware of the regularity and timing of the anti-choice demonstrations, the Ryerson Reproductive Collective met to produce pro-choice materials, including banners, pamphlets, and other resources for students. However, anti-choice demonstrators were not present at the usual time or spot. Pro-choice students still decided to demonstrate the pro-choice message with their banners.
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016: National Day of Action for Free Education.
Context: Many of the students participating in the National Day of Action are also heavily involved in the organizing of the Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective.
Around 2:00 pm, anti-choice protestors were spotted on campus on Gould and Victoria. Ryerson students passing by the graphic images began blocking the anti-choice demonstrators signs with the resources they had (sweaters, bags, and a few pro-choice signs). Once being informed of the anti-choice protesters presence on campus, more Ryerson students and CESAR board members and staff left Queen’s Park to join the counter-protest. One RSU executive was present, but left shortly after for a class.
Ryerson’s campus security were called about the protests happening on Gould Street. Shortly thereafter, campus security responded by informing the anti-choice protestors that they would be able to call the Toronto police for extra security against the pro-choice protestors, all of whom were Ryerson students.
Event covered: The Eyeopener, Through My Eyes: Anti-Choice on Gould St, November 11, 2016.
Friday, November 11, 2016
Ryerson student comments on the situation on campus.
The Eyeopener, Through My Eyes: Anti-Choice on Gould St, November 11, 2016.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Anti-choice demonstrators return to campus, this time spotted at 1:14PM at Ted Rogers School of Management. Students respond, but upon their arrival find that the anti-choice displays had been relocated to Church and Gould, in front of the Engineering Building and the Rogers Communication Centre. CESAR, Equity Service Centres and more students respond by blocking images. Students entering the Engineering building are visibly and vocally upset by their presence and some tell them to get off campus. They leave campus at 3pm.
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
The Ryersonian published an article addressing the RSU’s hopes of banning graphic anti-abortion displays from Gould Street. In the article, the RSU president makes his first public statement, indicating that the RSU is trying to get third-party protesters off campus streets. In the article, the VP Equity of the RSU states that she is spearheading a campaign to gain control over the situation and will be meeting with the President of Ryerson University, who states that he will be happy to meet with the RSU to discuss this matter.
Thursday, November 17, 2016
Anti-choice protestors return to campus near 3:15pm, for the first time on a Thursday and twice in one week. Once again, students and community members come out and cover the graphic images. Students on campus chant for the anti-choice individuals to leave campus, and many express their trauma. Faculty members come out to support students and support the counter protesters. The president of the Ryerson Students’ Union walks past by the situation. Security comes out, assesses the situation, and notifies the counter protesters that they have no problem in their actions, as (covering the photos) is peaceful. One even says he supports the counter protest. Police are not called. Anti-choice protesters remain, despite various reprimands from students. When the anti-choice group finally leaves, students are once again left traumatized. The response team checks in with them, and Equity Service Centre staff and CESAR offer decompression space.
November 18, 2016
Open Letter from the Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective is sent to President Mohamed Lachemi of Ryerson University, and Ryerson Students’ Union.