A student-led campaign at Ryerson University is pushing for the school to change its name out of respect for residential school survivors.
But the proposal from the Ryerson Students Union and the Indigenous Students Association has prompted considerable backlash from the wider student community, who criticize it as being impractical and disrespectful in its own right.
The downtown Toronto university is named for Egerton Ryerson, a pioneer of public education in Ontario who is widely believed to have helped shape residential school policy through his ideas on education for Indigenous children.
The school has previously stated that Ryerson's ideas did help contribute to the system that has since been described as a "cultural genocide" and acknowledged the need to commit to respectful relationships with Indigenous students.
The request for a name change is one of 11 demands the students union posted on its Facebook page on Canada Day under the hashtag .resist150.And if you think requiring a complete rebranding is a tad over the top, wait'll you hear what else they want:
Others include removing a statue of Ryerson that currently stands on campus, creating an Indigenous-only space for students, and implementing mandatory Indigenous content in all programs.Seems reasonable--if you're, say, an egregious squish like our socksational prime minister. As an alumnus of this particular institution, however, I'm agin' it for the obvious reason that if you compelled to "rebrand" Ryerson, you may as well "rebrand" the entire freaking country (as Turtle Island). That's the only way to remove all traces of non-indigenous history which, as every uber-virtuous CBC aficionado knows, is inherently and irredeemably racist.
For the sake of comedy, however, I'm willing to entertain some new monikers for Ryerson. How's about, say:
- Whatsamatta U--a name that acknowledges that members of various victim groups are bound to be p.o.'d about something (Zionists, "white privilege," etc.);
- David Suzuki U (a nod to a CBC icon/climate change god);
- Gord Downey U (named for the fatally ill, right-thinking lead singer of The Tragically Hip);
- Pierre and Justin Trudeau U;
- Indoctrination/Utopia U (a.k.a. IOU, an acronym that alludes to the hefty loans that students will have a hard time repaying, given that they have degrees in such "in demand" sectors as Queer Studies and Human Ecology); and, my own personal fave,
- South Toronto Free University, or STFU (an acronym that's self-explanatory, I trust).
A statue that some hope to topple--
a la Saddam Hussein's.