Two Ryerson student groups clashed in a loud shouting match at the board of governors meeting Monday night in a confrontation over tuition fees.
Interruptions from protesters dominated the meeting in Jorgenson Hall, where Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) supporters continued their Freeze the Fees campaign.
They were countered by a newly formed student movement called Rise for Ryerson, which is led by students who take issue with the RSU’s efforts.
They argue that freezing the fees — a staple of the RSU’s campaign — will lower the quality of education and negatively affect the value of a Ryerson degree.
Before the board of governors meeting began, both groups waited in the hallway outside to voice their concerns to the board. Tensions built as racist and other personal remarks were allegedly made by one student.
Reportedly, a student in supporter that she “shouldn’t exist.” A different student reportedly asked another, “Are you even from here?”
But it was unclear exactly what was said by whom, and organizers of the event tried to distance themselves from the disruptions.
In a video taken by The Ryersonian, a supporter of the RSU spoke out about the remarks.
“We are in a very hot space. You obviously don’t want to freeze the tuition fees, but we do. That’s totally fine and we can disagree,” she said.
“While we are in this space, I would like both sides to respect each other. Please try not to get into these insidious arguments.”
The RSU’s vice-president of education, Jesse Root, said he did not hear about an apparent anti-Semitic remark, but was aware that racist remarks were made.
“It disappointed me,” Root said. “The RSU and the work we do is contentious and we do so through an equity lens. Nobody should be subject to discrimination based on race, class, gender, or sexual orientation.”
Root also said that before the rally, he told his group that the purpose of the night was to engage the board of governors, not to antagonize the Rise for Ryerson group.
There were about 100 students from both the RSU-led coalition and Rise for Ryerson.
When students entered the meeting, RSU president Rajean Hoilett addressed Ryerson president Sheldon Levy. Levy was then addressed by a representative from Rise for Ryerson.
“At the end of the day, we are one big family,” said Levy. “(We should) work together to come up with a solution.”
The RSU rally was in partnership with the Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson, while Rise for Ryerson was organized by executives from the Ryerson Commerce Society and Ryerson Communication and Design Society
The RSU held a rally Nov. 17 after its request to address the board of governors was denied.
The RSU wanted to propose an alternative budget to freeze tuition fees and lower tuition costs for international students to meet those that domestic students pay.
Executives of the RSU set up tents in front of Jorgenson Hall at the end of their rally and vowed to stay until they met with Ryerson administration. Their goal was to put forth a motion at the board of governors meeting with their alternative budget.
After the RSU met with the board of governors, the RSU took down their tents in front of Jorgenson Hall.
The RSU executive said they were looking forward to sleeping in their own beds.