Ryerson’s equity and inclusion based campus is all thanks to students, says Will Fraser, a third year professional communication student.
“I think the students are the ones that really lead the change, because as much resources and power as the administration has, they don’t have a direction to steer them in without the students leading,” said Fraser.
Ryerson has many student lead clubs and services that work towards equity, diversity and inclusion on campus. RyePRIDE, The Trans Collective and The Centre for Women and Trans People are only a few of the equity services offered on campus.
The Trans Collective recently spearheaded “The Bathroom Campaign”, in which gender-neutral washrooms were implemented on campus this year.
Evan Roy, a Trans Collective co-ordinator said the campaign “was created out of need within the community and we advocated out of that very obvious lack of access that was missing at Ryerson”.
While The Bathroom Campaign has been met with a lot of positive feedback, Roy also said signs have been torn down and defaced.
“We’re continuing to work on the campaign, because obviously some good work has been done, but not enough.”
Ryerson has a long history of battling homophobia and transphobia on campus. In 1981, a help hotline was set up due to the high number of homophobic assaults on campus. Through the years, LGBTQ student groups have had their posters torn down, their offices vandalized and banners stolen.
Similar to Fraser, Roy agrees that a lot is being done to “tear down things that are problematic and harmful,” however these things are happening because of Ryerson’s large activist community.
“A lot is being done at Ryerson but lets also realize that that work is on the backs of students,” said Roy.
Ryerson also has queer and transgender courses to ensure their students are educated on LGBTQ issues and feel properly represented. Ryerson’s newest course called queer media, taught by Andrea Houston from the school of journalism, examines how sexuality, sexual orientation and gender identity are portrayed in the media.
“I’m sure Ryerson has made mistakes in regards to it’s trans and non-binary students. I know the papers had their own growing pains in regards to sources, but you know that’s normal, as long as you learn from your mistakes and you try to do better,” said Houston.
Al Donato, a Ryerson journalism graduate expressed the importance of teaching proper terms to ensure LGBTQ students are being respected both in and outside the classroom.
“A lot of these terms aren’t normalized yet. If you don’t see these terms constantly like we do in our community, you’re just sort of like okay, I don’t know how to treat people with respect. So you just sort of wing it and you inevitably mess up,” Donato said.
RyePRIDE co-ordinator Megan Lewis acknowledges the progress Ryerson has made. “Initiatives are put forth by students and they are what drive increasing equity and inclusion on campus,” she said.
“However we have so much more work to be done until we actually reach equity, diversity and inclusion.”
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