I’m writing an email to Ryerson University administrators about this, and I invite you to join me in doing so. The contact info is below. First I’ll give everyone a recap of what is/has been going on, and then present the email.
Karen Straughan, aka the YouTube sensation GirlWritesWhat, is scheduled to speak at Ryerson University in Canada on February 6 on various men’s issues. According to her sponsor the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE) she will address:
* The drop in male high school graduation and university enrolment, and the lack of men in key professions like nursing, education and early learning, the latter despite the fact that having a male role model in early life could offset the disastrous results of fatherlessness in our society
* Dangerous expectations of masculinity that exacerbate men’s health and make it “unmanly” to seek help even when desperately needed
* Sexist stereotyping of men that is now routine in everything from television and pop culture, to policies like legal aid clinics that deny service selectively to males and hospital abuse screening programs that refuse to consider the possibility of domestic violence against men even when confronted with data to the contrary.
CAFE has sponsored other speakers on men’s issues in the past at the University of Toronto. Although men’s advocates behaved in a rather calm and civilized fashion, the Feminist protesters were nothing short of chaotic and hateful.
During Dr. Warren Farrell’s speech in November of 2012 Feminist protesters formed a human barricade in front of the doors to prevent paying attendees from entering and delaying the event by an hour. After police broke up the barricade, Feminists began hurling all kinds of horrible verbal abuse at virtually everyone who entered.
When Dr. Janice Fiamengo spoke about misandry in women’s studies, Feminist protesters (who adopted a new strategy of wearing masks) pulled a fire alarm, forcing everyone to exit the building while the lecture was in progress.
When Drs. Paul Nathanson and Katherine Young spoke, protesters not only pulled a fire alarm while the lecture was going on (forcing everyone to exit and wait for firefighters to give them the OK to go back in), but also screamed and shouted at the top of their lungs and used noise-enhancing devices right outside the lecture hall so that attendees sitting on the second row inside the lecture room could not even hear the speakers.
University of Toronto administrators looked the other way as Feminists violated their human rights to freedom of speech and association. When it seemed as though U of T couldn’t get any worse, the administration charged CAFE a $1,000 “security fee” for their next speaker, Dr. Miles Groth.
There is no evidence that they have ever charged any other group any such fee. The event was in danger of being shut down because CAFE did not have the money and refused to challenge the administration. Luckily, men’s advocates were able to broadcast their need across the web and pony up the $1,000.
You can see all of this in more context on the AVFMS key post concerning the University of Toronto. You can also see my video about it here:
And now, Ryerson University (whose student union shut down a men’s issues group run by women on the grounds that it – ironically – would not “center women’s voices” in the discourse on gender equality) is charging CAFE a $1600 “security fee” for their upcoming event featuring Karen Straughan.
By charging only speakers on men’s issues such “fees” and refusing to take a stance on the repeated human rights violations, it appears as though the administration is taking the side of Feminists, and indeed may be attempting to bleed organizations like CAFE dry.
This is what CAFE has to say about the matter:
Ryerson University is requiring we move to a new location and pay a $1600 security fee for the event to proceed. We recognize the University is doing what they think is best to balance fundamental freedoms against safety considerations, but such a “free speech fee” is wrong and ultimately unhelpful, only feeding into the strategy of those who would respond to positive dialogue with violence and intimidation.
Although CAFE has done great work in the past (and continues to do so), I’m going to have to disagree with them that the university is “doing what they think is best” (which they also said about the U of T administration). The university is behaving in a cowardly and corrupt manner.
They refuse to stand up for those whose human rights are violated. Indeed, they punish them instead. They also refuse to consider that if their campuses are unsafe then a certain responsibility falls upon them to correct that.
I am sending a calm, measured, respectful, reasonable, and civil letter to the Ryerson University administration, asking them to do something different. Their response – or lack thereof – will demonstrate to the world whether such tactics are the best way to handle “work with” higher education administrators.
Essentially, it will call their bluff as to whether they are imposing a fee on CAFE because they really are concerned for security, or whether they just want to use dishonest political tactics to grind a bunch of uppity men’s advocates who have “forgotten their place” out of existence.
In my experience and observation, these administrators often just do whatever they are going to do anyway unless some kind of leverage forces them to do something different. So for those who think that being nice and reasonable is the way to go in these matters, this is for you.
You can also donate to CAFE if you would like to support their efforts.
Addressed to the following at Ryerson University:
- President and Vice-Chancellor Sheldon Levy: email@example.com
- President’s office: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Events coordinator Patrick Dingle: email@example.com
- Executive Director Mary Ng : firstname.lastname@example.org
- Events manager Trisha Renneard: email@example.com
Greetings. My name is Jonathan Taylor. I am an advocate for educational equity for men and boys and the founder of the website A Voice for Male Students.
According to my information, Ryerson University has chosen to fine the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE) a $1,600 “security fee” for their upcoming February 6 event on campus, during which they will present men’s human rights advocate and speaker Karen Straughan. This is due to the string of criminal activity on the part of protesters (many of them being Feminists) at their previous events.
First, I would ask you to please reconsider the fee on the grounds that it is weakens free speech and may even be discriminatory. I am aware that this is unlikely, however, which is why I suggest an alternative that has the interests of all parties at heart.
If the administration of Ryerson University believes the situation is so fraught with the prospect of crime on the part of protesters that it warrants substantially more security than what is normally required, it would probably be best practice – and indeed would only make sense – for them to issue an official public statement that it is concerned for campus safety, and that given the recent string of criminal activity by protesters at CAFE events there will be additional security at their upcoming February 6 event.
This public statement should also urge everyone at the event to uphold the values of freedom of speech, nonviolence, freedom of association, and intellectual diversity – values which are becoming of an academic community.
I suggest this in all seriousness for reasons which are beneficial to everyone. As follows:
1. On a simple cost/effect analysis, it makes sense. It costs Ryerson very little money – if anything – to publish such a statement. As it is said, the pen is mightier than the sword. University officials would ideally be among the first to publicly recognize the power of the pen.
Given that the “sword” in this case (security personnel) would cost a substantial amount of money, it makes sense for Ryerson to avail itself of opportunities which could be significantly more effective and at the same time are much cheaper.
2. It lets protesters who may be planning criminal activity know ahead of time that a security presence will be on the lookout for them, which may deter them from planning and acting out such activity. If such protesters were not aware of this by the time they arrived on campus, they may be tempted to carry it out since they are already there. At such a time they will likely – being now joined with their fellow protesters – face increased group pressure and feel “past the point of no return.”
Such protesters may then risk being injured when security personnel apprehend them. Thus, issuing such a public statement may also help ensure the well-being of protesters.
3. If Ryerson University is a truly unsafe campus, then a certain degree of responsibility falls upon the university to rectify that – other than, of course, fining those who have previously been the targets of criminals.
4. Such a statement would reaffirm Ryerson University’s commitment to the values of freedom of speech, nonviolence, freedom of association, and intellectual diversity. Given that most of these values are human rights values, it speaks well of a university to publicly advocate them.
5. On an ethical level, it makes sense. It is not the fault of those whose human rights are violated (CAFÉ in this case) that others choose to behave in a hateful, intolerant, and criminal manner. On some level the practice of doing nothing more than fining those whose human rights are criminally violated has the effect of punishing people for being victims. It also gives the public the appearance that the university is taking sides with a band of hateful and intolerant criminals.
When placed side-by-side with the university’s choice to fine CAFE, such a statement would also balance out its stance in the eyes of the public, who might otherwise be tempted to think that the university is taking sides and that the fines are politically motivated.
As you can see, I have the interest of all parties in mind: the human rights of CAFE, the well-being of protesters, and the public image of Ryerson University. I hope you consider my request.
Founder, A Voice for Male Students
Remember: you can support CAFE by donating to them or attending their events as well.