The Racialized Students’ Collective at Ryerson University in Canada barred two students from attending a group meeting because they were white.
Trevor Hewitt and Julia Knope, both first-year journalism students, were not allowed to attend the meeting because they were not victims of racialization.
An unidentified woman who was setting up for the event approached Hewitt and Knope, and asked them if they had ever been racialized.
Hewitt explained to the woman he wanted to cover the event for an assignment.
His request was denied because he was not a racialized student, and he would not be allowed to sit in on the meeting, the university’s independent news outlet, The Ryersonian, reports.
Hewitt and Knope left the room after the woman told them they were not allowed to stay.
“It felt really bad… kind of embarrassing,” Knope said. “If their goal in these meetings was to end racialization then it needs to be something everybody is involved in. If some people are causing the problems, they need to know. Grouping yourself off … is not going to accomplish anything.”
As part of the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU), the Racialized Students’ Collective claims to “oppose all forms of racism and work towards community wellness for students,” their Facebook page description reads.
Their focus is “to provide a safe space for students who have been discriminated against and/or students who are committed to anti-racist action.”
Knope said she understands they are a support group for one another and do not want outsiders there, but does understand why the events are advertised as public and as an RSU campaign.
“It seemed really ironic to me that the meeting was about racialization and they were prohibiting certain people from entering,” Knope said.
“Right now it’s almost like they’re suggesting they can make racialization go away (and that) if everyone who has been racialized just talks … it will magically go away,” Hewitt added.
RSU coordinator Vajdaan Tanveer said that members of the collective have requested a “safe space” on campus for open conversations.
“We don’t want (racialized) students to feel intimidated, that they can’t speak their mind because they are afraid of being judged or something they say might be used against them,” Tanveer said.
Tanveer confirmed that Knope and Hewitt were not allowed to attend the meeting because they were white.
“In terms of educating, we have some events for public,” Tanveer said. “We use the opportunity to tell them about the work and how they can get involved."