#BlackOnCampus student organizers see gains in their fight against anti-Black racism, starting at University of Toronto

TORONTO, Jan. 11, 2016 /CNW/ - As colleges and universities open their doors for the new year, Black students are celebrating victories following international student protest at the end of 2015 through the Black On Campus campaign. The University of Toronto administration has committed to begin comprehensive census data collection across the institution. A campus-based coalition of students called the Black Liberation Collective met with administrators at U of T last fall present their demands. Administrators representing the University of Toronto agreed to the demand collect and publish data that examines the level of Black representation of students, faculty, administration and teaching staff on campus. This demand came as a response to the underrepresentation within academia felt by many Black students.

"While there is still so much work to be done we welcome this as an exciting first step  in creating a campus where Black students feel safe and welcomed," said Yusra Khogali, member of Black Liberation Collective and student at the University of Toronto. "We hope to see work like this replicated at other institutions."

While census data on racial representation across the institution is relatively easy to compile, most colleges and universities in the province do not collect comprehensive data on this trend. Data collection can begin to provide context to the issue of representation of racialized communities, while giving the community at-large the necessary tools to contextualize the issue and evaluate progress made. 

"The underrepresentation of Black students, staff and faculty speaks to a reality of anti-Black racism that has shaped not only the University of Toronto, but university and college campuses across the country," said Rajean Hoilett, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario and a member of the Ryerson Black Liberation Collective. "We need to see more of these commitments made by our administrations to curb anti-Black racism at all college and university campuses."

The Black Liberation Collective is challenging the various ways that anti-Black racism manifests on our campuses across the province.  At University of Guelph, Black students organized a rally and march that led to the occupation of the office of Dr. Franco Vaccarino, President and Vice-Chancellor of the university. Following this action Black students have been subjected to elevated levels of discrimination, harassment and violence. Their peers have taken to social media to post racist comments calling Black students "monkeys"; posting pictures of nooses; and sending death threats to student organizers. All of this continues to contribute to an environment where many Black students already do not feel safe on their own campus and within their community. Amidst all of this, the university has failed to take any substantive action to provide support.

"The response that we've gotten from the campus community has been terrifying, but what's worse is knowing that our administration doesn't think of these issues as being serious enough to warrant an urgent response," said Savannah Clarke, a member of the Black Liberation Collective and student at University of Guelph.

The Black Liberation Collective-Canada is a collective consisting of Black students who are dedicated to transforming institutions of higher education through unity, coalition building, direct action and political education.

The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario is the province's oldest and largest student organization, representing over 350,000 college and university students in all regions of the province.

SOURCE Black Liberation Collective-Canada

For further information: Rajean Hoilett, Chairperson, Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario, 289-923-3534; Campus-specific contacts: Yusra Khogali, University of Toronto, 647-995-5008; Savannah Clarke, University of Guelph, 647-229-9167; Vanessa Dormain, University of Ottawa, 613-709-2565; Pascale Diverlus, Ryerson University, 647-210-4393; Kayonne Christy, McMaster University, chrisks@mcmaster.ca

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Black Liberation Collective-Canada

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