Illustration Credit: Arba Bardhi
Let’s heal the world, one name change at a time
Josephine Murphy, Opinion Editor
With Ryerson University changing its name to Toronto Metropolitan University, it’s high time for the University of Toronto to ditch its old, dreary name. Let’s face it, “University of Toronto” sounds like something straight out of the 18th century, not a modern institution that prides itself on promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.
And let’s not forget the origins of the name. “Toronto” comes from the Mohawk word “tkaranto,” which means “place where trees stand in the water.”
Seriously, have you looked around the city lately? Do you see many trees in Toronto? Any lush, rich greenery? All the poor things have been chopped down to make way for concrete buildings like Robarts, or the paper supply for the endless stream of new university textbook editions. (That’s right, we care more about keeping textbook publishers in business than we do about good old Mother Nature.)
And as for the water, forget about it. The only water we encounter is the cloudy stuff from the U of T water fountains. So no, neither Toronto nor its favorite university are magical places where trees stand in water.
The term “Toronto” isn’t the only problem, using the word “university” also raises issues. Universities represent privilege, colonialism, and inequality. They are elite institutions for the wealthy, and reminders of periods of colonialism and imperialism. We can’t ignore the fact that universities were originally established for the ruling class, and they continue to perpetuate a system of inequality and oppression.
In lieu of the old-fashioned name “University of Toronto,” we could opt for something more subtle like, “Institute for the Advancement of Equitable and Culturally Responsive Education.” Alternatively, we could choose something cutting-edge like “Safe Space College” or “Snowflake State Academy.” They have a certain ring to them, don’t you think?
And while we’re at it, let’s also reconsider the names of some of the esteemed buildings on campus. Take Hart House, for example. Who is this Hart person, and did they even have a heart?
We must remember that our primary goal is to avoid offending anyone at all costs, even if it means sacrificing tradition, history, and a sense of identity. And who knows, maybe in a few years, “Safe Space College” might not be safe enough and we’ll have to rename it to “Inoffensive Institution of Tolerance and Acceptance.” So long as we constantly change and adapt to the latest trends and sensitivities, we can rest assured that we’re doing our part to create a better world, one name change at a time.
So, let’s embrace the progressive spirit of the times and shake off the shackles of our old, outdated names. After all, if there’s one thing U of T students know, it’s that whatever Ryerson does, we can do better.