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Building community through the first Black student orientation

Events and activities that centre Black student experiences are taking place throughout Orientation Week
By: Surbhi Bir
August 23, 2021
Five Black students posing for a selfie.

A host of events exclusive to Black-identified students aim to make their transition to university a fun and educational experience.

Orientation Week is all about setting students up for success and helping them feel part of the university. The first Black Student Experience at Orientation aims to do just that with events to address the specific needs of Black-identifed students and build a sense of belonging to the campus community.

“Our primary goal is to have our Black students know that there’s space for them to succeed and there are lots of resources for them to engage with. We’re responding to what Black students have been telling us about their specific needs and experiences at the university, and we want to create spaces for them to meet and connect with other Black-identified students,” said Jen Gonzales, executive director of student affairs. 

The Black Student Experience reflects some of the recommended actions of the Anti-Black Racism Campus Climate Review Report published by the Office of the Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion, which identified student concerns around lacking a sense of belonging, safety on campus and mentorship. The Orientation events focus on health and wellness, community building, and academic and financial support

“I think it’s especially important for students who might not have many Black peers in their program of study to find connections. The recent Student Diversity Self-ID report has helped us identify which programs have fewer Black-identified students and we invite them in particular to meet students from other programs or faculties and build a community on campus,” Gonzales added. The report was produced and released by the Office of the Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion in April 2021.

Here are the exclusive events and activities for Black-identified students as part of Road to RU, external link – the two-week university orientation from Aug. 23 to Sept. 6, 2021. Some events are online and some are in-person. For a full list of programming and to register for events, visit the schedule of events, external link

Black on campus: welcome and wellness
Tuesday, August 24, 6:00–7:00 p.m. Online.

Welcoming all Black-identified students to the Ryerson community with an opening ceremony that will feature information on resources available to help you sustain your health and wellness as a Black student on campus. This session will include information on Student Learning Support, Student Wellbeing, counselling services and more.

Black on campus: financing your university experience
Wednesday, August 25, 5:00–6:00 p.m. Online.

Start your first year in university strong by being financially prepared! This one-hour workshop will help you explore your options to get your finances in check. Topics of discussion will include but not be limited to finances, employment, OSAP, grants, scholarships and bursaries. You will also learn about supports available to you as a Black-identified student.

Back-to-school Caribana bash
Thursday, August 26, 6:00–7:00 p.m. Online.

Have you been missing Caribana? This is your chance to bring it back! Party with DJ Jester at this bash that’s all about the tunes, dance and culture.

Hair talk: navigating the beauty supply
Monday, August 30, 2:00–3:00 p.m. Online.

If you’ve ever had any trouble at the beauty supply store, been unsure about what products work best for you, what your hair type is, or how to create a hair washing routine, then this event is for you – the right place for any and all questions about Black hair. Natural hair specialist T'kehya Prentice-Cupid will share tips on maintaining, treating and wearing your beautiful hair!

You good? We good! - Black creatives panel discussion
Tuesday, August 31, 1:00–3:00 p.m. Online.

This informative panel discussion is for students looking for some advice on how to thrive in the art world as a freelancing creative. Whether you’re a 2D or 3D artist, photographer, writer, dancer, or just interested in the creative field, the panelists have you covered. Join the discussion, hear the perspective of Black creatives and workshop your own creativity!

Black in Res: how to survive and thrive in Toronto
Wednesday, September 1, 1:00–2:00 p.m. Online.

Moving to a new location can be tough, but this event can help make it as easy as possible. Join Black in Residence for a one-hour breakdown of nearby beauty supply stores, barbershops, restaurants and anything else that you may need to survive, thrive and feel at home.

Black on campus: games night!
Thursday, September 2, 5:00–6:00 p.m. 6th floor (SLC beach), Student Learning Centre.

Hang out with current and new students on campus with games such as Pictionary, Split the Room and Black Card Revoked. 

Stride forward with Black-identified students
Friday, September 3, 1:00–2:30 p.m. Online.

The Tri-Mentoring Program invites you to Stride Forward, a session that will provide transitional support for students to help acquaint them with the university's resources and programming. Connect with other incoming students, current students, faculty and staff, and hear advice and insights from leaders at the university. If you’re a current student, get a refresher on the university's services and opportunities for Black-identified students and support your community!

Registration is required for all Orientation Week events. To register and attend, visit the Road to RU website, external link

All students, faculty, staff and visitors are required to complete health screening before accessing campus each day, via the RyersonSafe app. For more information, visit the Ryerson COVID-19 information website.

 

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