TYP Forum and Townhall Press Release

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Education, Liberation, Action! Forum and Townhall
March 28, 2013 | 6:15pm
OISE Room 2214

This event is a collaborative effort between the Equity Studies Student Union, Transitional Year Programme (TYP at the University of Toronto)  students, alumni and allies to discuss the deteriorating state of equitable education at the post-secondary level.

TYP is a 43 year old access to education program that actively encourages members of the Native Canadian, African-Canadian, and LGBTQ communities, sole-support parents, persons with disabilities, and individuals from working-class backgrounds of all ethnicities to apply. It gives those without the formal requirements to attend university, access to be able to study in the Arts and Science Faculty at the University of Toronto. The program is unlike anything at the university in that is an autonomous space of inclusiveness and equity based pedagogies, one that enforces an anti-oppressive worldview. Its mandates have been replicated in other access to education programs throughout the country because of its immense success. Unfortunately the program is being coerced into amalgamating with the far less successful bridging program at Woodworth college despite resistance from the TYP community and its allies. Some of the measures the university has taken so far include: cutting down staff, flat-lining the budget for a few years despite the increasing costs of operating the program, and removing students from the physical space that has been a symbol of community in the university.

This event is a forum and townhall that has been inspired by the attack on TYP. It is to discuss and resist the lack of access to education that historically oppressed groups continue to experience. The implications of an exclusive education system are devastating in our communities….Let’s come together and advocate for equitable access to education and resist the destruction of TYP.

Opening Remarks: Enas Abdalla

As a Transitional Year Programme alumni, Enas Abdalla, will be entering the final year of her undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto, double majoring in Women and Gender Studies and Criminology. Throughout her studies, her interests have focused on the intersections of race, gender and class and the production of subjectivities through the criminal justice system. Particularly, she is interested in the implications this has for people of colour, specifically black bodies, as it relates to the prison industrial complex. In the last two and a half years, Enas has been active as a student organizer at the University of Toronto as an executive on the Women and Gender Studies Student Union, and now as the Vice President Finance on the Equity Studies Student Union. Unapologetic and unafraid to speak her mind, Enas hates first and second wave feminism. She also loves to listen to 90s R&B while she’s studying.

Panelist: Paul Adjei

Dr. Paul Banahene Adjei was born in Asokore, a small village in Ghana. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Ghana in Social Work and his Ph.D. degree from the University of Toronto. His doctoral dissertation was on the Non-Violent Philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr and its Implications for Transformative Education. His most recent publication can be found in Sociology of Race and Ethnicity: A Critical Reader. It is titled “When Blackness Shows up Uninvited: Examining the Murder of Trayvon Martin through Fanonian Racial Interpellation”. He is currently working on a book titled: “Emerging Perspectives in African development: Speaking Differently, which he is co-editing with George Dei. Dr. Adjei is also a lecturer at New College, University of Toronto as well as a sessional professor at Centennial College.

Panelist: Leah Woldegiorgis

Leah Woldegiorgis is currently a fulltime student in the Transitional Year Programme at the University of Toronto. After an interruption in her high school education, Leah is excited to be in university pursuing her dream of becoming an educator. Over the last 5 years, she has worked in the not-for-profit sector, supporting members of her community that are systemically marginalized. Leah has returned to school to further her ability to challenge systemic injustice and promote excellence in inner city schools.

Panelist: Hartford Charles

Hartford Charles is the most revered Composition professor in the Transitional Year Programme (TYP) at the University of Toronto. Charles was a chief writer and producer at two radio stations in Barbados, has published numerous articles in the major Barbados dailies and was a Co-founder of an education up-grading programme in his community in Barbados. In Canada, he taught at the TYP from (almost) its inception in 1970 and has made an outstanding contribution to the development of the writing programme in TYP. Hartford Charles shares a deep commitment to life-long education and University community alliance building.

Panelist: Martin Ejidra

Martin Ejidra is an active community organizer, and has been involved in his various communities for nearly a decade. His passion for advancing equity in education, and social justice more broadly, grew out of his lived experience as a young, black male, from a working class, immigrant home, in a racialized, working class neighbourhood, that was highly policed. His involvement in organizations such as Infundo Ephakemeyo Scholarship Fund, which assists racialized students finance post-secondary education, and the Youth Justice Education Program, which helps reintegrate racialized youth who have been involved with the YCJA, are platforms he utilizes to address the lack of equity and blatant discrimination in our education and justice systems for racialized youths. Martin holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts, from the University of Toronto, in Equity Studies and Criminology, as well as a Bachelor of Education from Lakehead University. Martin is currently a Program Officer for Harmony Movement, where he develops and facilitates workshops for elementary and high school aged students, as well as teachers and staff, on issues of equity, diversity and related topics.

Panelist: Saneliso Moyo

Saneliso Moyo is a second year law student at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. A graduate of the University of Toronto Women and Gender Studies Specialist program, Saneliso has dedicated her studies, and student organizing efforts to increasing access to justice and education. As Mentorship Chair of the Black Law Students’ Association at Osgoode, she has made it part of her mission this year to open up space in the law school for black, and other racialized undergraduate and high school students, interested in a legal education. This summer she will be returning to Parkdale Community Legal Services, a clinic which provides free legal services to members of the Parkdale-Swansea community, as a student case worker, in the Workers’ Rights division.


For more information, contact ESSU (uoft.essu@gmail.com) or TYPPA at (typ.actionplan@gmail.com

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