Members of the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) are calling for a change to the university’s name, due to its ties with Egerton Ryerson, who was one of the main architects behind the Indian Residential School system.
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On July 1, a list of 11 demands was posted on to the RSU Facebook page, calling for an “Indigenous only” space on campus, and giving the university another name that “does not celebrate a man who supported and created the structures of colonial genocide.”
The demands were part of the student unions’ “#Resist150” and “Colonialism150” countdown on social media, which protested against Canada Day celebrations.
After the list of demands was posted, RSU received backlash from students, alumni, and members of the public, as many expressed their dismay by giving one-star reviews of the student union on their Facebook page.
However, others applauded the student union on their decision to take a stand for Indigenous rights.
The mixed reactions prompted RSU to release a statement on Facebook, clarifying that not all members of the student union were involved in publishing the 11 demands.
“Over the last week, a few members of the RSU have publicly shared several posts on RSU social media for a Colonialism 150 campaign,” read the statement.
“We were not aware of the Colonialism 150 campaign prior to its launch, not limited to the content, language, and demands made on behalf of the RSU. Although the campaign holds immense value and significance to truth and reconciliation, as board members we were not consulted and have continued to remain in the dark about what exactly is happening with this campaign.”
The statement went on to claim that the campaign was not approved by the committee or board level.
The RSU said that it will publicly address the campaign and the controversy surrounding it at a board meeting on July 19.