The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) has announced that it will be hosting a town hall to address anti-Black racism within the organization.
The Town Hall to Confront Anti-Blackness within UTSU will be held on November 10 at Room 2170 of the Medical Sciences Building from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
“This space will be prioritizing the voices of Black UTSU members. Non-Black and non-members are asked to be respectful, and to not take up space at the town hall,” the description of the Facebook events reads.
The consultation was listed as a demand by the Black Liberation Collective (BLC) in the group’s call for a boycott of the UTSU. In addition to this town hall, the BLC is also calling on the UTSU to drop its ongoing lawsuit against former Executive Director Sandy Hudson and to secure clubs funding for Black student groups.
Three weeks ago, members of the BLC staged a protest against the UTSU, where they occupied the union’s office at Hart House Circle and plastered the building with posters. The BLC’s concerns with the union were outlined in an online statement and include the lack of full clubs funding for the Black Students’ Association, the absence of UTSU executives during the BLC’s rallies, and allegations of “character assassination” against Hudson, who is co-founder of Black Lives Matter–Toronto.
“The town hall is a response to the claim that the UTSU is institutionally anti-Black. We’re committed to serving Black students, and that means taking accusations of anti-Black racism seriously,” UTSU President, Jasmine Wong Denike told The Varsity. “It’s incredibly important that we listen to the concerns of students.”
Initially, the UTSU announced that members of the media would be barred from attending the town hall “in the interests of creating an environment where our members are comfortably able to communicate their concerns.”
Similar town halls held by Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate and Pride Toronto did not have restrictions on the press.
On Sunday morning, Denike indicated that the union has since reversed its decision and the event “will be open to members of the student press should they request access in advance.”
The BLC could not be reached for comment prior to press time.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article made reference to a town hall held by Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate and Pride Toronto. In fact, there were separate town halls held by the Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate and Pride Toronto, respectively. The Varsity regrets the error.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article stated that the town hall would take place at the UTSU office. The UTSU has since changed the location to the Medical Sciences Building.