This version of this story adds comment from the DHPS.
The Ryerson Students’ Union has filed a complaint with the university’s discrimination and harassment prevention services (DHPS) in relation to a Ryersonian story.
DHPS cannot disclose any information about specific complaints they receive, but Ann Whiteside, a Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Officer at Ryerson, says that if someone reported to the office that they were receiving threats or hate mail, DHPS would “definitely” recommend they get the police involved.
“If they were waiting to meet with us here, they shouldn’t wait,” says Whiteside. “They should probably go to the police themselves, quite frankly. Because hate is a very serious thing.”
Whiteside says it’s ultimately up to the RSU to decide whether they will report the messages.
The RSU’s Ryerson’s Racialised Students’ Collective (RSC) says it received hateful and threatening messages after a March 13 story about two journalism students turned away from a meeting because they are white.
“We are angered because since the release of this article we have received countless racist emails, telling us to go ‘back to our countries,’ denying the existence of racism, and others containing violent and threatening KKK slogans,” the group wrote in an open letter posted to the Ryerson Students’ Union Facebook page on Tuesday morning.
“These past few days have showed us that racism and ignorance are both still very much alive, and that the campus community is not always as supportive and accepting as some would like to say it is,” they said.
The Ryersonian article had more than 100,000 views over the weekend on its website after it was shared to Reddit and several white supremacist websites.
The RSU regularly holds events that it says are intended as “safe spaces,” through the RSC and other campus equity groups, such as the Centre for Women and Trans People.
The posters and online advertising for the RSC’s March 11 event in question did not explicitly state that the event was designated as a “safe space.” RSU’s president, Rajean Hoilett, says the RSU did an adequate job of promoting the event as a space for racialized students, and it has no plans to revisit its policy of how the events are advertised.
“The fact that this space was advertised for racialized students should paint a picture of who should be at the event and have access to that space,” said Hoilett.
Ryerson doesn’t have any official policies to provide students with information about the importance of safe spaces.
Likewise, Ryerson’s school of journalism has no specific policy regarding student coverage of “safe space” events. The journalism school will consider it at its April faculty meeting.
Hoilett says that the RSU is interested in working with the journalism school to better educate students about safe spaces and racial inequality.
“We are saddened because an opportunity for the Ryersonian to start the conversation about what solidarity and allyship could look like in the face of racism was lost,” writes the RSC.
The RSC emphasized that white students “absolutely” have a role to play in anti-racist organizing, and “the first step in this role is learning and understanding why racialized students need space to organize together.”
“True allyship means understanding that we all carry privileges, and that using our privilege for progress means taking the lead from the community you are offering support to. Sometimes this means stepping aside and not participating at all.”
The Racialised Students’ Collective is holding an event on March 31 to discuss reverse racism, which is “open to all students interested in talking about racism on campus.”