In a post on the Feminist Collective’s Facebook page, the group announced that it has withdrawn its application to seek club status under the RSU but will continue to operate on campus as an unofficial student group.
“As an intersectional feminist group, we are unwilling to stand by and support an organization that removes a unionized job held by a black, Muslim woman in order to create a non-unionized job for a white woman,” the Feminist Collective wrote.
The group said the RSU lacks transparency and diversity and needs to do more to address students’ concerns.
“There’s more than just gender here. There’s intersections of race, religion and class,” said Alyson Rogers, a member of the collective.
RSU President Andrea Bartlett laid off Gilary Massa, RSU executive director of communications and outreach, who was on maternity leave. Her temporary replacement, Dina Skvirsky, was also laid off.
A few days before, a new non-unionized general manager position was created and filled by Natasha Campagna, who previously oversaw the administrative operations of the Ryerson Commerce Society (RCS).
The shuffling of jobs was part of a much needed restructuring of the union, the RSU board of directors said in a statement.
The RSU released a statement defending the job shuffling, saying that its “operations run the risk of operating in a crippling deficit indefinitely within the next five years, unless action is taken.”
Bartlett told The Ryersonian in December that the decision “had nothing to do with the people that were in the role.”
The Feminist Collective said they’re worried about what message this sends to students.
“As a black Muslim woman nearing graduation, it sends the message that we’re not a friendly work force,” said Awo Abokor, a fourth-year biology student and member of the collective. “If we chose to start a family, is that something we have to worry about in terms of keeping a job?”
The Feminist Collective pledged its support of statements released earlier in December by Reignite Ryerson, a group that focuses on the issues surrounding tuition fees, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 1281), which Massa and Skvirsky were members. Both Reignite Ryerson and CUPE 1281 publically condemned the firings.
With files from Greg Hanna and assistance from Darsha Jethava.