Strategic Directions: Campus Climate & Environment

York University will work towards creating an inclusive and equitable community where everyone has the potential to feel a sense of belonging and that they are respected. The University will undertake initiatives to enhance the accessibility of physical and virtual spaces for students, staff, faculty, and instructors. 

Campus climate is understood to be the current perceptions and attitudes of staff, students, faculty and instructors regarding issues of equity and diversity on a campus. Campus environment is generally understood to be the sum of environmental factors that influence students’ learning and life, which involves three elements: physical, cultural and interpersonal. This can be applied to all community members, including employees. Campus climate includes the circumstances, objects, or conditions that surround all community members. Environment is not limited to the physical (built) environment, though that contributes significantly to a sense of place and belonging. This strategic direction includes co-curricular activities for students and how they are supported; experiences that contribute to the development of culture; how York community members are engaged; and the structures of the organization that help create and shape the environment where everyone lives, works and studies (such as policy or organizational structure). 

“This Strategy is important to the university because it helps to articulate what it is – a colonial institution – and what it strives to become. I am excited that this Strategy provides the opportunity for conversations about how we work together. It provides the space to engage and challenge our decision making and ways we respond to opportunities and problems.”


Kairi Williams

Director Advancement Events York University

Recommendations for new campus-wide initiatives

  • Develop and implement a Campus Climate Survey, run on a regular cycle (for example, every three years), to measure progress and inform policy, system review, and program review and development, and share findings with the community. To be led by CHREI. 

  • Undertake a review to ensure that all student success/ experience/engagement programs have embedded DEDI principles, with emphasis on peer-led programming/ initiatives/events, to be led by the Division of Students. Examples include Peer Mentoring, Peer Tutoring, Peer-Assisted Study Sessions (PASS), Peer Health Educators, Peer Ambassadors, Course/Class/Cohort Representatives, Peer Volunteers. 

  • Undertake a review to understand and propose actions related to recognition and/or compensation for additional labour undertaken by equity-deserving students in equity-committee work at the University. 

  • Identify opportunities to enhance the inclusivity of physical spaces on campus such as, but not limited to, the following:

    • Creating spaces for equity-deserving groups (students, employees etc.) to convene and create communities of support for one another; 

    • Ensuring campus infrastructure, including ceremonial spaces, are physically accessible; 

    • Identifying of designated space for breast and chest-feeding (and CHREI to change the language in current guidelines to use all-gender language); 

    • That a requirement be developed for a review of all new major construction projects by a specialist consultant with an expertise in accessibility. 

    • Consider improvements to wayfinding through use of technology such as connecting QR codes to campus maps/wayfinding apps; and 

    • Ensure representation of art from equity-deserving artists is displayed in public areas across campus. 

  • Identify and address potential barriers to accessing the digital campus environment(s). 

Recommendations for continuing initiatives

  • Support activities that enhance spaces and initiatives toward inclusion for students, such as co-curricular programming, events, mentoring and peer support programs, academic support programs and skill development opportunities. 

  • Continue to ensure AODA compliance in all areas. 

  • Continued implementation of social procurement policies and procedures, which may consider creation of DEDI criteria to engage all external contractors to work toward supporting DEDI at York, and as a condition for being added to the preferred list of vendors or contractors for York. 

  • Continue to educate the campus community about the new Human Rights Policy and Procedures and to identify ways to have clear means for raising complaints and finding resolution. 

  • Continue to implement action items in the Action Plan on Black Inclusion, particularly from relevant thematic areas such as Safety, Mental Health and Community Engagement among others. 

Taking action, making impact

We call on faculties, divisions, units, departments, and individual York community members (including students) to identify and implement actions to: 

  • Improve accessibility and inclusivity of built and digital environments, documents etc., where it is within their scope to do so. 

  • Respond to the climate survey results when they become available. 

  • Proactively build and strengthen York’s relationships with communities and organizations representing equity-deserving groups, especially those close to our campuses. 


Understanding that benchmarks will need to be established over time, and the mechanisms put in place to be able to track the University’s progress, the following benchmarks and/or monitoring systems are recommended: 

  • Monitor the Campus Climate Survey, once implemented, for progress.
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