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Suzanne Rogers apologizes amid controversy over photo with former U.S. president Donald Trump

TORONTO —
A Canadian philanthropist is facing criticism for taking a photo with former U.S. president Donald Trump in Florida, and the fashion school that bears her name is feeling the heat.

On the campus of Ryerson University in Toronto, signs of strong ties to the Rogers family are all over the place. The family has donated millions to the school, and that philanthropy is evident in the names of several buildings and programs.

One of those is the Suzanne Rogers Fashion Institute, named for philanthropist Suzanne Rogers. She has posed for plenty of pictures with students receiving awards in the past, but it’s images the socialite recently snapped at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida that have gotten her and the Rogers name into trouble.

That includes one photo taken with her husband, Rogers Communications chairman Edward Rogers, in which the couple are posing with the former president himself.

Suzanne Rogers posted the photo with Trump to Instagram with the caption, “A special way to end the night.”

Ryerson fashion school graduate Michael Zoffranieri is among the many who were upset.

“Initially seeing the photos, I was taken aback,” he told CTV News.

Zoffranieri and others said they were shocked that a person who represents Canadian fashion would want to pose with Trump, given his record for attacking groups such as immigrants, or mocking those with disabilities.

Rachel Romu, a model who has a rare disease that forces her to rely on a cane, said the photograph left people feeling betrayed.

“Being cozy with people who have started some hateful ideas definitely leaves a lot of judgment, a lot of feelings of betrayal and frustration for many people within the community,” Romu told CTV News.

Others thought it was wildly inappropriate for the Rogers family to even be in Florida, at a time when everyone in Canada is being told to stay home.

Some on social media have called for a boycott of the Rogers network.

In a statement today, Suzanne Rogers said the Trump encounter lasted only seconds at the end of a dinner as they were leaving, clarifying that she does not “have any kind of relationship with Donald Trump, good or otherwise” and that this was the first time they had met.

“I have always believed in equality, diversity, inclusiveness, and respect for all,” she wrote in the statement.

She added that when she took the photo and posted it, “it was done without considering the false assumptions and implications that would be made about my personal beliefs.”

Rogers went on to say she regrets that her actions have caused anyone to question her values, but fell short of apologizing for taking the photo itself.

According to The Eyeopener, Ryerson’s student newspaper, the university itself has been criticized for silencing the fashion school after a statement condemning Suzanne Rogers was posted to Ryerson Fashion’s social media and then deleted, replaced with a statement saying the university does “not believe social media is the appropriate platform to judge the actions of others.”



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