What’s race got to do with it?

Ryerson University’s recent race controversy was a result of miscommunication, not prejudice.

Two white, first-year journalism students were turned away from covering an on-campus meeting — organized specifically for racialized and marginalized individuals — held by Ryerson’s Racialized Students’ Collective (RSC) on March 11.

Initially, organizers said the students were removed because they were neither “racialized” nor “marginalized”.

The Ryersonian and The National Post immediately misframed the story as a greater issue of political correctness gone too far on campus. In reality, it was a result of miscommunication — and the students’ role as reporters.

Media presence can feel like a threat to a safe space. This can lead to feelings of discomfort, as students may hesitate in sharing their stories out of fear of them appearing in the news the next day.

For this reason, it’s understandable why organizers wouldn’t want coverage of a meeting that was intended to be private.

The RSC has many events that are open to all students. Holding a meeting exclusively for individuals who have experienced marginalization isn’t only acceptable, but necessary.

Rather than obtusely focusing on a “reverse-racism” narrative, news outlets should practice empathy and try to better understand why these students weren’t allowed to participate.

The RSC organizers should have originally communicated just how public their gathering was and their justification for turning these students away. Depicting them as an evil racialized entity, though, undermines the fundamentally good work they do.

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