By Kayla Zhu
Ryerson’s first Anti-Black Racism Campus Climate Review is giving black students, faculty and staff a voice in campus matters.
The review aims to document and evaluate the experiences of Ryerson’s black community members so as to improve the campus environment, said Rinaldo Walcott, the lead facilitator of the review.
“We collect experiences of black people, because they have unique experiences,” Walcott said. “They should be able to speak to them directly.”
The review was created in light of the upcoming 10th anniversary of a 2010 report on systemic issues on campus published by the Anti-Black Racism Task Force.
In 2016, the Black Liberation Collective called on the administration to take action based on the findings of the 2010 report and establish a campus climate review.
“In that report, there were 16 recommendations and one was the reinstatement of my office,” said Denise O’Neil Green, Ryerson’s vice-president, equity and community inclusion. “Given that full journey, I believe it is a good time to do this review.”
O’Neil Green also worked on the community consultation for the Truth and Reconciliation Report in January 2018.
“We learned a multiplicity of perspectives, and it’s important to hear various experiences,” O’Neil Green said. “After we figured out what the climate was across campus, we figured out what is the best thing to do.”
The campus review takes form in a series of focus group sessions where students, faculty and staff are encouraged to attend and share their stories.
“We lead with set-up questions that tell stories. We build a shared sense of understanding,” Walcott said. “It’s really good that people are not isolated in these sessions, and it’s not just in their heads.”
Comprehensive reports on systemic issues are not common on Canadian universities, explained O’Neil Green.
“Our doing this is blazing a trail for doing these analyses, so we can create a good approach for this work,” O’Neil Green said.
The review is scheduled to be completed by the end of June. More focus group sessions are scheduled for later in the month.