A men’s issues group wants to know why its application for official group status was rejected by the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU).
Kevin Arriola received a rejection email from RSU campus groups administrator, Leatrice O’Neill, but wasn’t told why the decision was made. He said he hopes to meet this week with RSU president Andrea Bartlett to discuss why the group was turned down.
“We’re disappointed to say the least,” he told The Ryersonian. “We thought that this student union was going to bring change, but really what they’ve done is just another variation of the last student union in terms of their commitment to silence men’s voices.”
“I feel like it was very disrespectful, you know, after all the work we put in to do this, and they just give us a rejection in one or two sentences,” Arriola said. “I would have expected more.”
Two years ago, the RSU turned down a different men’s issues group.
The fear then was that the group would attract misogynists and have unspoken connections to A Voice for Men (AVM) and the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE), organizations accused of targeting feminists.
On Oct. 26, executives of the newly-formed RSU voiced similar concerns to Arriola at a meeting where his application was discussed.
“We are operating under an egalitarian framework, which is just the general view that everyone should have equal rights,” Arriola told the committee, made up of RSU members and executives.
In his presentation, he said the group would focus on higher rates of suicide, homelessness and workplace injuries among men. He also cited a high number of boys failing in schools.
During the meeting, RSU members questioned Arriola for almost an hour, repeatedly raising concerns that the group would become a platform for radical men’s rights ideologies — the same accusation the previous men’s issues group faced.
He said the group had been able to recruit almost an equal number of women and was open to everyone.
“The only thing we don’t allow is hate,” he said.
After the meeting, Arriola said he was hopeful “this RSU” would not “judge a book by its cover.”
But now, he said the new RSU members are the same as the former executives in “their commitment to silence men’s voices and to create an unsafe space for men in the university.”
“We’re starting to become marginalized because of this,” he said.
Arriola said the group is currently exploring next steps and possibly appealing the decision to the Board of Directors.
With RSU approval, the group would receive funding paid from mandatory student fees, eligibility to book meeting space, postering privileges and a mailbox.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.