ANTI
RACISM
CALL


Ryerson DAS


ANTI
RACISM
CALL



Ryerson DAS

a letter to Ryerson DAS


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A Letter to Ryerson University’s Department of Architectural Science from Students and Alumni, Calling for Actionable Change

To Ryerson Architectural Science Department Chair Dr. Mark Gorgolewski, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies Dr. Miljana Horvat, Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science Dean Dr. Thomas Deuver, and the Ryerson Department of Architectural Science faculty, staff, and administration:

    As the world reckons with the dual unprecedented events of a novel coronavirus, and an upswell of protesting against police brutality, the role of architecture, its history and ability to influence societal change comes to the forefront of “the new normal” discussion. Professionals working in and around architecture hold the responsibility of analyzing social and political design implications, while also acknowledging the contextual history of past design ignorance. This begins with the education of architectural prospects. As it currently stands, Ryerson’s architecture program lacks sufficient emphasis on community-orientated design, promoting the inherent disregard of marginalized communities and an active role in furthering urban damage. We, as a collective of students and alumni, want to strive for rectifying the types of issues that are found in an abundance of  architecture schools but, are even more crucial to address in Ryerson’s Department of Architectural Science, an urban-centric school of architecture serving a diverse range of students.

    Ryerson DAS has not done enough and is required to do better. While there have been some conversations amongst Ryerson DAS community members on these issues, a clear plan of action, measurable milestones, which include written and proclaimed commitments to improvement are necessary for a just and unified movement of change. As students and alumni, we take seriously the responsibility we have in building environments, communities, and futures.

    We demand that our chosen schools reflect this urgency. We at Ryerson DAS, are joining the chorus of architecture students, alumni, designers, professors, instructors, practitioners, and all those related to the industry in calling for immediate change around the world. As such, we call on Ryerson DAS to do the following:


1

Establish a fully transparent partnership through the creation of a new coalition between Ryerson DAS student body, faculty, staff, and administrators that focuses on co-curation of pedagogical content and EDIJ (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Justice) work within our department permanently.

Student feedback must be considered to inform the implementation of strategies, and publicly informed with full transparency and advertisement. In addition, student voices must be actively participating in all committees and decision-making processes that impact our institution including, but not limited to, selection criteria and appointment of new faculty and administration and the recruitment process of new students.


2

Formulate a new EDIJ Strategy Plan emphasizing on anti-racism, while addressing specific targets outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Committee of Canada.

This strategy plan must embed the following actions: working within the new established coalition and Ryerson’s Office of Equity and Community Inclusion, training staff and faculty, targeting of included materials, utilizing robust evaluation metrics, self-critiquing, and self-correcting protocols of accountability and transparency.


3

Increase the discussion of BIPOC designers and literature through the restructuring and decolonizing of theory and studio courses.

The curriculum is heavily Eurocentric, colonial, and white-dominated. Academic institutions must aim to highlight the work of racialized communities, beyond merely their “ancient civilizations”. We also advocate for establishing social justice and design activism courses; in diversifying content and resources, more students can engage in these topics within the AEC industry. Every studio and theory class should have a portion of its material dedicated to highlighting historical Canadian contributors in the built environment. This includes, acknowledging how Black and Indigenous communities continue to feel the reverberations of irresponsible design.


4

Adopt current literature and research by BIPOC urbanists and architects.

Having up-to-date tactics and policies for designing and building urban spaces is essential for conscientious architecture, and taking seriously the recommendations from BIPOC designers about urban space is the mandatory first step. As examples, Jay Pitter’s recommendations for urbanists, A Call to Courage, and Milton Curry’s explanation of social practice.


5

Commit to increased inclusion of BIPOC speakers within all future DAS Lecture Series.

This commitment must ensure that yearly, at-least half of all speakers are BIPOC. A commitment to including guests from underrepresented communities and diverse education backgrounds/fields is a crucial and direct way to encourage conversations beyond the Toronto-specific design dominance so prevalent in Ryerson DAS. Allocate more funding or alternative partnerships to ensure BIPOC representation.


6

Commit to a percentage of Black and Indigenous faculty in hiring practices.

This includes acknowledging through stating the current lack of black and indigenous faculty within the department. Ryerson DAS has a responsibility to invest, support, and promote BIPOC educators and pioneers in our community and as such must take affirmative action during future hiring practices. As provided by the Office of the Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion (OVPECI) and Office of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation (OVPRI) Guide, Ryerson DAS must plan for diversity and an inclusive hiring process by reflecting on the current faculty and students and tracking the representation, recruitment and retention of the following five equity groups: women; racialized people; Aboriginal Peoples; persons with disabilities and 2SLGBTQ+ people.


7

Actively seek and increase new funding opportunities, grants, and scholarships for BIPOC and low-income students.

To battle the socio-economic barrier that architectural education carries, access to required resources should not be financially restrictive but rather universal to ensure future students are not discouraged to study in this field. This also includes partnerships with organizations, firms, and nonprofits for social and design justice, as well as raising awareness on research related to EDIJ.


8

Cultivate networks for Black and Indigenous professionals, students, and alumni.

This can include funding professional mentorship and networking opportunities with local organization such as BAIDA, BEAT, and BAU.


    This letter is on the heels of many others that students and alumni have drafted and presented to their respective architecture schools. They may share the same spirit of demanding increased BIPOC representation, accountability for wrongdoing, and commitment to better social justice, but each individual department of architecture has its own set of barriers to shed and overcome. We hope Ryerson DAS is committed not only to acknowledging and addressing the letter and demands but willing to continually work towards change that is clearly needed and wanted by the people directly involved.

Signed:
Anti-Racism Call (Ryerson DAS - ARC)

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