Skip to main content Skip to local navigation
Home » Framework » Guiding Values

Guiding Values

This Framework on Black Inclusion outlines overarching values, understandings and objectives to guide the university community in making impactful systemic change related to anti-Black racism.

York University’s vision is to combine academic excellence and inclusiveness to create maximum societal impact. York University strives to provide all students access to a high quality, research-intensive learning environment committed to the public good. The University’s work is underpinned by the following values:

  • We strive for Excellence in fulfilling all aspects of our mission.
  • We are Progressive, encouraging open-minded inquiry, innovative approaches and forward-looking solutions.
  • We uphold Sustainability—environmental, social and fiscal—as a vital compass for decisions and initiatives.
  • We are passionate about advancing Social Justice and Equity through critical insight, creative problem solving, and socially responsible action.
  • We champion Diversity and Inclusivity, embracing differing perspectives, peoples and ways of knowing, and fostering global fluencies and cross-cultural knowledge.

York University is also guided by our Racism Policy and Procedures, which outlines the following:

  1. York University affirms that the racial and ethnocultural diversity of its community is a source of excellence, enrichment and strength.
  2. York University affirms its commitment to human rights and, in particular, to the principle that every member of the York community has a right to equitable treatment without harassment or discrimination on the grounds prohibited by the Ontario Human Rights Code, including race and ethnicity.
  3. York University acknowledges its ongoing responsibility to foster fairness and respect, to create and maintain a positive working and learning environment and to promote anti-racism including anti-Black racism.
  4. Anyone in the York community who infringes a right protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code shall be subject to complaint procedures, remedies and sanctions in the University’s policies, codes, regulations and collective agreements as they exist from time to time, and to such discipline (including rustication or discharge) as may be appropriate in the circumstances.

To realize our vision, live our values, and meet our commitments, we must work to remove the barriers placed on Black faculty, instructors, staff and students’ access and successes. As York Professors Carol Tator and Frances Henry (2009) have noted:

At every level, our universities must become responsible, accountable, and answerable to the diverse constituencies within its walls, as well as the racialized and Indigenous communities within Canadian Society. We believe it is time to move beyond studies, task forces and inquiries related to racism. Action is needed now to address the direct and indirect structural and systemic barriers deeply embedded in the White culture of the Canadian academy.1

This framework is also informed by the following understandings:

Anti-Black racism is defined as “prejudice, attitudes, beliefs, stereotyping and/or discrimination that is directed at people of African descent and is rooted in their unique history and experience of enslavement and colonization.”2

Anti-Black racism is embedded in all institutions and York University is not immune to this fact. As a site of knowledge creation and dissemination, it is essential that York challenge and discontinue the reproduction and reinforcement of anti-Black racism

White supremacy stems from the belief, conscious or unconscious, that white people are superior and should therefore dominate all other racialized groups. It is an ideology that assumes the inherent importance of White lives, realities and knowledge.

“This notion of race emerged in the context of European imperial domination of nations and peoples deemed “non-White” and was used to establish a classification of peoples. There is no legitimate scientific basis for racial classification. It is now recognized that notions of race are primarily centered on social processes that seek to construct differences among groups with the effect of marginalizing some in society.”3

Black people have been excluded from full participation in academia. Black community members have been underrepresented as professors, instructors, and staff including administrators, and undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students. Further, they are underrepresented in the physical spaces of the university and have not been sufficiently included in the curriculum. Black voices, experiences, cultures and histories are still mostly absent from University life and structures.

In the academy, whiteness and western ideologies have been celebrated and centred as the dominant loci of knowledge and thought. It will take an enduring commitment to acknowledge and situate the experience and knowledge of Black, Indigenous and racialized people to begin to bring academia into balance.

Kimberlé Crenshaw describes intersectionality as, “a lens through which you can see where power comes from and collides, where it interlocks and intersects.”4
While all Black communities have faced anti-Black racism, the way racism is enacted and experienced is complicated by gender identity, gender expression, (dis)ability/abelism, sexual orientation, class, religion, place of origin, language(s) spoken, family status, marital status and other aspects of identity. Africa and its diasporas are multi-faceted, multilingual, multi-faith and multi-ethnic, and this diversity must be clearly acknowledged so that the humanity of Black people can be understood. The diversity of Black communities is a source of strength.
As Professor Andrea Davis writes, “Our journeys will look different from each other’s, as will our stories, but we have the potential to write an incredible narrative that just may transform the world.”5

As we work to repair relationships with York’s Black faculty, instructors, staff and students, we recognize that commitments outlined in the Indigenous Framework must continue. Both efforts involve dismantling systems and structures that allow racism to exist.

Restorative justice is a paradigm that can lead to greater change than punitive models. Restorative justice is the practice of resolving harm
done by focusing on repair. It engages communities in the solution, and it requires broad participation in the restoration. Restoration allows for the dignity of people and communities to be considered as solutions are generated. It is not a hierarchical model but rather a horizontally designed system that recognizes the humanity in all peoples and sees them as worthy and capable. Through processes like talking circles, community members are engaged across their differences to bring about new connections and pathways. Restoration leads to transformation and unknown possibilities.

1 F. Henry & C. Tator, “Introduction: Racism in the Canadian University”, Racism in the Canada University: Demanding Social Justice, Inclusion & Equity, p. 38
3OHRC Policy Guidelines, 2009, p.11. Ontario Human Rights Commission
4 Intersectionality%20is%20a%20lens,class%20or%20LBGTQ%20problem%20there