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Ryerson’s first Anti-Black Racism Campus Climate Review underway

Have your say: Black students, staff and faculty participate in process
By: Dayo Kefentse
March 29, 2019
Rinaldo Walcott

International expert Rinaldo Walcott is conducting focus groups as part of the campus climate review.

As Ryerson University approaches the midpoint of a campus climate review of Anti-Black Racism (ABR), anyone from the community who self-identifies as a Black person is encouraged to participate in new scheduled focus group sessions.

In 2010, an Anti-Racism Task Force at Ryerson released a report outlining systemic issues and barriers.  As the 10th anniversary of that report approaches, the ABR initiative is examining what is happening on campus with a specific focus on Ryerson’s Black communities.

“It’s fitting that we are doing this review at the same time as the United Nations is  placing focus on people of African descent,” said Denise O’Neil Green, vice-president, equity and community inclusion. “Our office addresses campus-wide systemic issues that affect the entire Ryerson community. As such, we are responding by supporting this campus review so we can understand how to foster a more inclusive campus for our Black students, staff and faculty.”  

Professor Rinaldo Walcott, PhD, is continuing to conduct the review in April and May. Recognized as an international expert, his teaching and research is in the area of Black diaspora cultural studies and postcolonial studies with an emphasis on questions of sexuality, gender, nation, citizenship and multiculturalism.

“We know that ABR impacts students in particular ways, so we have created a safe space to share thoughts and concerns,” said Walcott. “The Anti-Black Racism Campus Climate Review is qualitative and will focus on groups and conversations from people who self-identify as Black, as well as others in the Ryerson community.”

“This climate review is important because of its ability to archive Black peoples’ experiences on campus, put forward recommendations to address our historical, present, and future conditions,” said Josh Lamers, Black Liberation Collective-Ryerson co-founder. “We encourage everyone at Ryerson who identifies as Black to participate.”  

During the recent Truth and Reconciliation Community Consultations, the Ryerson community learned the value of hearing from a cross-section of voices to get a sharper picture of what is happening on campus. In similar fashion, the ABR campus climate review will source multiple perspectives in an attempt to capture a detailed and accurate view of the conditions of Black communities at Ryerson.  Once the review is complete, a report with recommendations and next steps will be presented to the university administration. The administration is committed to full transparency and that issues identified in the report will be addressed.

“At Ryerson we are working together to create a campus environment that is collegial, diverse, inclusive, equitable and supportive to ensure a strong sense of belonging and engagement for all,” said President Mohamed Lachemi. “We encourage our community members to take part in the review, I strongly believe that by seeking out and listening to a range of views, experiences and knowledge we greatly enrich our learning, teaching, research, and work environments.”

The review is expected to be complete by the end of 2019. For more information about the review contact abr.review@ryerson.ca or visit the Anti-Black Racism Campus Climate Review website.

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