These past several months have signified an important shift in the conversations surrounding Anti-Black Racism and our campus community was at the forefront of those discussions. We, like many post-secondary institutions across Canada, acknowledge that Anti-Black Racism is systemic and impacts the post-secondary education sector. We all have a role in dismantling systemic racism in order to take concrete steps towards meaningful change.
The University established an Anti-Black Racism Task Force in Fall 2020, with the aim of learning from the experiences of Black students, staff and faculty across the University of Windsor, with the goal of centring these experiences in determining priorities for substantive change and recommending pervasive anti-racism and anti-oppressive practices. Today, the Anti-Black Racism Task Force has released their report, bringing forward key recommendations to address systemic Anti-Black Racism across our campus and to eliminate further discrimination on campus. We thank the Task Force for their thoughtful and dedicated work and we fully support the recommendations they have brought forward.
We express our sincere gratitude to all the members of the Task Force, as well as its co-chairs: Jessica Bona-Mensah and Dr. Camisha Sibblis. We would also like to thank those who worked with the Task Force’s subcommittees and all the members of the University community who shared their experiences, insights and expertise throughout its critical work.
In particular, we would like to thank the members of the Black community for their generosity in engaging with this process, despite the emotionally exhausting work and dedication this required. It is important also to acknowledge the activism and advocacy on campus and in the community that continues to push us to do better.
The University continues to engage in the active process of creating a campus that is inclusive, welcoming and equitable for all. This requires leadership, a review of processes and procedures, resources – both human and financial - and thoughtful engagement, learning and change at the individual and the institutional level. We are encouraged by the synergies of our actions over the past year and the report’s recommendations, such as:
- The establishment of a leadership role of the Vice-President, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion;
- The establishment of a Director of Anti-Racism and Organizational Change position;
- An Anti-Racism Pedagogies Teaching Leadership Chair to support curricular and educational change;
- Anti-Black Racism student leadership grants;
- Anti-Black Racism teaching and learning grants;
- The appointment of a Black student support coordinator position;
- The appointment of a Black clinical therapist;
- The establishment of an extensive education and training framework;
- Commitment to hire 12 Black faculty by 2023;
- Planning for an EDI review to begin in early 2022 that will focus on broader institution-wide equity, diversity and inclusion processes, policies, programs, and reporting structures;
- A third-party review of student disciplinary processes to ensure their effectiveness, fairness, and efficiency and to foster an environment of accountability, trust and healing;
- Restructuring of the Office of Student Experience;
- Reviewing policies and procedures in view of obligations under OHRC guidelines; and
- The establishment of a race-based data collection framework.
We know we have much more to do. We need to continue to listen, to learn and to implement changes that will have a lasting, positive impact. The actions above are only the first steps, and we look forward to continuing to change our culture and our actions to ensure an equitable and just future. We are all responsible for making this happen. We encourage everyone to review the Task Force’s report and reflect upon the individual actions they can take to be part of this change.
Beginning next month, we will establish an Implementation Team to carefully review the Task Force’s recommendations in order to develop plans to operationalize them. Some of the changes may take more time to implement and some will require policy or process changes that necessitate additional consultation. In some instances, we may also need to find solutions that address the spirit of the recommendation as we review University processes and agreements. The University will ensure there is a communication mechanism by which the Implementation Team’s work will be shared in a consistent, transparent and accountable manner.
We will communicate a plan of action by Jan. 31, 2022. Ongoing accountability for this work will be a part of that plan.
Our actions to address Anti-Black Racism will not be taken in isolation. They will also facilitate our efforts to continue to address the concerns of other equity-deserving groups on campus. We are all collectively responsible for addressing all forms of racism and discrimination. We look forward to this important work.
Robert Gordon, PhD
President & Vice-Chancellor