Tuesday, October 14, 2008

White Culture Club again rears its ugly head, this time it's 'Ryevolutionary'

On Tuesday night, Ryerson's Senate met as it normally does, to discuss the various aspects of running a University.

And, as they normally do, the two students' unions served a motion calling for academic amnesty on the province-wide Day of Action to Drop Fees.

Ryerson's administrators, not ones to make waves, usually pass these motions and encourage students to get involved. They're also not ones to stand out. So it's unsurprising that they passed the motion considering that similar motions of support have already been passed at the University of Ottawa, Queen's University and York University.

The motion was served by Rebecca Rose from RSU and Tania Hassan from CESAR. It called on the Senate to strongly urge professors to allow students to be away from class should they choose to participate in the Day of Action.

In an all too typical example of how right-wing student representatives operate, Natasha Williams, a member of last year's 'Ryevolution' election block, spoke against the motion. She's likely best known for her work with the ryevolutionary Ryerson Commerce Society

Williams argued against the motion, suggesting that students who want the day off should write letters MPPs about tuition fees rather than taking a day off to demonstrate. In effect, she called for the academic punishment of all students who participate in the Day of Action. What a student representative!

While known for her work with the RCS, Williams is lesser known for her support of a White Culture Club at Ryerson, where white students could gather and discuss issues of common cause. Of course, this notion is offensive and lacks any historical, anti-racism, anti-oppression or even societal analysis.

When the 'White Culture' debate gripped the RSU two years ago, most of the activity was online. And, as is known by most who use the Internet, online posts can be forever. In Williams' case, her words remain there:

"I have a HUGE issue with someone who says there is no such thing as white culture. How dare you, that is no different to saying there is no Black culture or no Asian Culture. White culture isn't simply north American culture. I posted on another groups board saying that for example Classical European Music (and I'm speaking of for example Mozart, Vivaldi, Beethoven etc.) is white culture, but is definatly not north american culture, because these composers were from europe. Ballet is also white culture, and that definatly didn't originate in north america either."
How representative. How Ryevolutionary. How offensive.

Williams may have been the only student to speak against the motion for academic amnesty, but a large majority of her fellow Ryevolutionaries voted with her. These included: Shakera Martin, Darius Sookram, Merit Abadir, Ken Chadha, Paul Yoon and Melissa Piacente (former staffer at the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and Ryerson Commerce Society executive member).

Most revealing about this vote is the fact that these people appeared to vastly misrepresent themselves during the election by running on a platform calling for tuition fee reductions and even outright elimination. It appears after talking the talk, they aren’t walking the walk.

Not that Williams' racist and offensive comments are representative of a group of students who purport to be representative of Ryerson's diverse members, students should be concerned with anyone who makes an alliance like this just to be able to gain power.