Ontario students condemn racist vandalism at Ryerson



    Students call for an Immediate Action from the University

    TORONTO, Feb. 26 /CNW/ - Students across Ontario condemned an act of
arson that targeted a black students' group at Ryerson University last week.
Concerns about racism on campus were ignited when a bulletin board belonging
to the East African Students of Toronto at Ryerson (EAST) was set on fire,
along with posters promoting the group's campaigns and events.
    "This kind of racist vandalism sends a message to black students on
campus that they are not welcome - an idea that students fully reject," said
Jen Hassum, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario. "That
is why students across the province feel that it is important to raise our
voices together to condemn such actions."
    The vandalism at Ryerson followed an incident last month at York
University in which racist slurs were painted on the door of the York
University Black Students' Association. The incident prompted multiple student
rallies and a united call on the York University administration to commission
a campus-wide safety audit in response to recent incidents of racism and
sexual assault on campus.
    "All students have the right to study in a safe learning environment that
is free of harassment, prejudice and intimidation," said Gilary Massa, the
Students of Colour Representative of the Canadian Federation of Students. "It
is the university's responsibility to respond quickly to restore safety to
campus and send a message that hate and violence have no place at a
university."
    Students across Ontario are demanding that Toronto Police and Ryerson
Security launch a full investigation and publicly release preliminary security
findings. They are also calling on the Ryerson administration to work with
students on campus to develop an appropriate plan to make the campus safer and
more welcoming to all students.
    Last year, the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario issued a report on
the needs of Muslim students, which was released in response to a
proliferation of racist threats against Muslim students at Ryerson and other
Ontario campuses. The report contained recommendations that address issues
ranging from combating racism on campuses to improving reporting structures
for students who have been subjected to discriminatory or violent treatment.
"Since the release of the Task Force report there has been a higher level
awareness and dialog about campus safety and inclusivity, and a refusal on the
part of students to accept anything less then the full protection of their
basic human rights," said Hassum.

    The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario unites over 300,000 college
and university students from more than 35 students' unions throughout the
province.





For further information:

For further information: Jen Hassum, Chairperson, CFS-Ontario, (416)
925-3825 or (416) 832-9073 (cell); Joel Duff, Organiser, CFS-Ontario, (416)
925-3825 or (416) 707-0349 (cell); Gilary Massa, Students of Colour
Representative, CFS-Ontario, (647) 869-2101 (cell)


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