Letter to President Lachemi RE: Ryerson Partnership with Toronto Police Services
January 23, 2018
To President Lachemi,
CC: Denise O’Neil Green (Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion); Michael Benarroch (Provost and Vice-President, Academic).
Dear President Lachemi,
In light of yesterday’s news regarding Ryerson University’s new partnership with the Toronto Police Services, we are gravely concerned for not only the relationship between the Black Liberation Collective-Ryerson and Ryerson administration, but also for Black students and Black Torontonians.
Black students, staff, and faculty are already over-policed and surveilled on this campus, especially because of the increased call for police presence by way of the notoriously anti-Black Office of Sexual Violence. Despite the claim that this partnership will be about addressing diversity and “bias avoidance”, we do not believe this can be done on a campus that is dealing with it’s own issues of anti-Black and anti-Native racism. Ryerson administration has been quite slow in doing any concrete work, for example the Climate Review has been halted due to our feedback and critique being ignored, and a quite disastrous process to the first ever Black student scholarships. We’re also outraged with the speed in which Ryerson University is capable of creating courses for police officers, but still making no forward momentum in creating courses/programs in Black Studies.
Without consulting Black, Indigenous, and racialized students, staff, and faculty, you now plan on increasing police presence. Meanwhile we are well aware that whether they’re off or on-duty, police are violent toward community members and their presence alone makes people unsafe. Have you not thought about the ways in which Black, Indigenous, and racialized peoples on this campus will feel unable to protect themselves from the surveillance of Police? Have you not thought about how this relationship is quite contradictory to the one you’re attempting to facilitate with Black and Indigenous students, staff and faculty on campus? Have you not thought about how this makes any Climate Review disingenuous in being able to address anti-Blackness on campus?
It is also important to think of the implications of endorsing these courses amidst the realities of Black people in Toronto, and that these courses do not adequately address the Black community’s concerns. A course does not address the fact that Black peoples in Toronto continue to be harassed, carded, assaulted, tasered, shot and killed by the Toronto Police Services. Students don’t pay tuition to get tasered. They don’t attend university to get carded on campus and in their classrooms. We shouldn’t have to deal with the fears of being fatally shot during Frosh week.
A year ago today (January 24, 2017) a Black man was subject to excessive use of force and tasering by Toronto Police Services on Ryerson campus. We got to witness through video the Toronto Police Services’ willingness to engage in anti-Black serophobic behaviour while also harassing the person filming the interaction. Is this what/who you’re willing to partner with and bring onto campus?
We understand the way the academy works and that individual professors have the right to academic freedom, however this is an institutional relationship between Ryerson University and the Toronto Police Services. What does it mean for Ryerson University to partner with the Toronto Police Services in the current political climate in Toronto?
It is clear from this recent partnership that the relationship between the Black Liberation Collective-Ryerson and Ryerson University was not founded on honesty, transparency, and accountability. If this was the nature of our interactions, these are conversations we should have been having and our critiques and cautions would have been outlined to you from the onset. We had hoped that we would not have to return to a place of fighting for the safety and rights of Black students, staff, and faculty on a campus that claims to care about Black students. We strongly urge you to not partner with the Toronto Police Services. Ryerson University cannot continue to make Black people unsafe, and think that’s business as usual.
In rage and direct opposition,
-The Black Liberation Collective-Ryerson