About York’s DEDI Strategy
Founded in 1959 on the traditional territory of the Anishinabek Nation, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and the Huron-Wendat, York University is a leading interdisciplinary research and teaching institution with a vibrant and diverse community.
Excellent learning and research and a commitment to collaboration enable York to address complex challenges and create positive change in the local and global communities it serves. Students, faculty, instructors, staff and alumni are passionate about building a just, inclusive and sustainable world.
As a colonial institution, York has committed to the process of decolonization and to addressing all forms of discrimination, to ensure a sense of belonging, connection and well-being for all members of the community. Maximizing the impact of this strategy requires that everyone share responsibility for supporting and enriching each other’s views and experiences with the goal of fostering individual and collective success. York’s commitment to this pursuit is clearly embedded in its mission, vision and values.
The University Academic Plan 2020-2025: Building a Better Future (UAP) further commits to these core values through the six Priorities for Action. As well, the UAP challenges the York community to answer the call made by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Several of these goals have clear connections to the work York has undertaken as it relates to decolonization, equity, diversity and inclusion.
A Vision for the Future
York’s vision for an equity strategy is based on a commitment to decolonization, equity, diversity and inclusion (DEDI). Decolonization rests on an understanding of colonialism and the ways in which university culture and processes systemically reproduce systems of oppression and discrimination. Striving toward equity requires mechanisms that recognize, acknowledge, account for and redress the inequities of dominant cultures and practices. This calls for specific attention to the legacies of ongoing colonialism and supremacism and their detrimental impacts. Creating a sense of inclusion and belonging requires supportive structures and social spaces where diverse perspectives are heard, acknowledged and respected.
Thus, a comprehensive DEDI strategy appreciates that many forms of oppression and discrimination exist, with wide-ranging consequences. The context is not static; identities are dynamic and intersectional, and they will change across contexts and over time – including resistance to identification itself. External events can also amplify discriminatory behaviours, as was evident during the pandemic with the rise of anti-Asian racism and the rise in 2022 of Antisemitism and Islamophobia.
York aims to facilitate a decolonizing, inclusive, diverse and collaborative ecosystem that promotes individual and collective flourishing. Achieving an inclusive and equitable community is not a destination but rather a journey that requires ongoing attention and action. Organizational change must be informed by the foundational and ongoing work to advance DEDI through research, curriculum, teaching, service and programming.
Enabling the Plan
While overall accountability for driving this strategy resides within the Division of Equity, People and Culture (EPC), every community member carries responsibilities, both in relation to the plan and to one another, for the creation and maintenance of an inclusive, welcoming, equitable community.
As the objectives of the strategy are advanced, meaningful and transparent mechanisms of accountability across the system will need to be created. On an annual basis, the University will evaluate its progress, report to the community, and update the plan as necessary.
The University will identify means to build accountabilities into existing evaluation and performance tools, such as the Integrated Resource Plan. These accountabilities will be incorporated into the formal performance evaluations for senior positions, with the expectation that leaders, in turn, hold their own units accountable for developing and implementing their own strategies to support the DEDI goals laid out in this plan.
Over time, the University will track metrics that represent important factors in assessing progress toward these goals. These metrics will be used in combination to determine whether specific shifts up or down, or lack of activity, represent positive outcomes relative to creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive campus. At regular intervals, the University will update the community on its progress.
A review of the existing information regarding the state of the University has highlighted critical gaps in its data, among them, the lack of a comprehensive, campus-wide climate survey, as well as deeper levels of employment equity data analysis to aid the institution in tracking equity and inclusion. These gaps will be addressed as implementation moves forward.
To support the community and to enable the plan, several key initiatives have been identified and will be funded:
- The Office of the Vice-President Equity, People and Culture will work with key offices to incorporate awards into our existing programs that recognize outstanding accomplishments of community members that enhance equity and contribute to a diverse and inclusive campus environment. All DEDI-related awards will solicit nominations from a broad pool of prospects and will be widely publicized.
- The Office of the VP EPC will establish a DEDI Innovation Fund for activities not otherwise funded by other complementary funds (e.g., the Academic Innovation Fund, Sustainability Innovation Fund and relevant research funds). University community members will be eligible to apply for one-time grants.
- With this plan being written, the President’s Advisory Council will have fulfilled its mandate. The University will dissolve the council and the existing President’s Advisory Committee on Human Rights and its three sub-committees and create a new advisory council on DEDI. This group will provide guidance on matters related to DEDI, which may include accountabilities, initiatives, accountability systems and more.
Taking action, making impact:
We call on faculties, divisions, units, departments, and individual York community members (including students) to identify and implement actions to:
- Adopt policies and procedures that set accountability and responsibility towards implementing, monitoring, tracking the progress of and reporting about DEDI-based initiatives, which may include a local DEDI committee or a DEDI committee of council.
- Consider including DEDI principles as important budget and resource planning considerations.
York University is proud of its commitment to decolonizing, equity, diversity and inclusion and its long-standing historical commitment to social justice. York envisions that this strategy will continue to advance DEDI and will contribute to:
- Community members including staff, students, faculty and instructors, feeling a greater sense of safety, inclusion and belonging
- Decision-making that is reflective of a diversity of voices represented in leadership and at decision-making tables
- Enhanced student experiences in their classrooms as well as in co-curricular and extracurricular activities at the University more broadly
- Community members feeling empowered to achieve their best, however they define excellence in achievement
- Equity-deserving individuals having opportunities to progress in their academics and careers
- A community empowered to have difficult yet respectful conversations, with a greater understanding of the importance of decolonizing, equity, diversity and inclusion.