safe spaces on campus: reflecting on recent events & media coverage of Ryerson’s Racialised Students’ Collective

I was a little shocked when this story broke on Friday via the Ryersonian, “White students barred from funded RSU student group event.”

Talk about a sensational title.

Two students were barred from covering an event for racialized students. Okay.

“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.”

I remember sitting at my desk on Saturday, struck dumb in front of my computer. Earlier this week, I was at a powerful talk with Dr. Kathy Absolon from Wilfred Laurier, on how we bring the [racialized] self into the academy. What I mean by powerful — I was in tears when I asked her to reflect on her experiences after-the-fact, as I’m dealing with what feels like a painful negotiation of research and service to my community, while navigating a space so colonial & engaging in practices that feel so neoliberal and counter to my values and beliefs.

So when I read this article, I felt a range of emotions. Anger and frustration yes, disappointment… but it also revitalized my passion and energy to continue the work I’m doing in anti-oppressive education, critical pedagogy, and communication activism pedagogy.

This story has been picked up by Reddit and other news outlets. Watch the video in this Global News article to see the progression in the student reporter’s perspective.

“It’s a public space and it’s funded by the school and I think that in a perfect world everybody should be let into all meetings but I haven’t been through the same issues, I can’t say I’ve been through the same issues as racialized students at our school,” she said.

As someone working & studying at Ryerson, I know we’re at this crucial time – various groups have been building momentum, space, and community for antiracism and antioppressive work. I’ve been part of various conversations and communities for faculty and staff & while that’s been amazing … when it comes down to student support and community, we have so far to go. This hits so painfully close to home.

FURTHER READING

Read this opinion piece by Ryerson student Aeman Ansari: We need to respect safe spaces

Photo via Columbia Spectator