Signs outside the men's rights event Ryerson held Feb. 6. (Samuel Greenfield/Ryersonian Staff)

Signs outside the men’s rights event Ryerson held Feb. 6. (Samuel Greenfield/Ryersonian staff)

Ryerson’s president, Sheldon Levy, said the university had decided to cover the $1,600 security fee for a controversial men’s rights event before it received criticism.

“Freedom of speech is hugely important,” said Ryerson president Sheldon Levy.

“If you’re gonna say something, and I like what you say, big deal. That’s not freedom of speech. It’s when you say something, and I hate what you’re saying … but I make room for you to say it, that’s real freedom of speech.”

National Post columnist Barbara Kay criticized the university for imposing charges for security, saying the school used the fee as a way to force the men’s rights group to cancel the event.

“This is outrageous … To impose such a hardship on a group in anticipation of irresponsible and bigoted behaviour by intolerant activists is to blame and punish the victim,” wrote Kay.

However, Levy said Ryerson took the position to wave the fee “well before the article.”

He added that charging the fee would be “the same to a student as saying…’there’s no room for you here,’” said Levy.

Still, the university got criticized from both sides.

In a Facebook post last Wednesday, the Ryerson Students’ Union was critical of the university for absorbing the security fee, and providing space for the event sponsored by Canadian Association for Equality.

“We share the university’s goal to promote freedom of expression, but recognize that freedom of speech comes with the responsibility to ensure that student safety is prioritized,” stated the post.

The event took place on Feb. 6 midst a heavy security presence. It did not draw the protests that accompanied a similar event last spring at University of Toronto, where a demonstrator pulled a fire alarm.

Samuel graduated from the Ryerson School of Journalism in 2014.