Combatting inequities to build a supportive environment

With a growing student body reflecting Canada’s vibrant multiculturalism, York is committed to inclusivity and diversity at all levels. However, as issues of equity and representation continue to dominate the headlines and impact marginalized communities across the globe, we are dedicated to addressing these challenges head-on, ensuring our campuses remain spaces of empowerment, respect, and opportunity for all and inspiring others to contribute to a more equitable and inclusive society.

One crucial way our community does this is through the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies’ (LA&PS) collaborative and transformative Anti-Black Racism Strategy. Over the last three years, LA&PS has been building on the feedback and suggestions gleaned through direct consultations with Black students, faculty and staff to address pervasive and institutionalized inequities. In response, we have introduced a series of new funding streams, resources and programs to address ongoing barriers to academic success and career advancement.

This includes a $100,000 anti-Black Racism Initiatives Fund open to LA&PS students, faculty and staff for projects that challenge anti-Black racism and support Black students, faculty and staff. A $50,000 LA&PS Black Scholar Research Fund (BSRF) was also established to support original and innovative research project ideas from emerging and established Black scholars in LA&PS. As well, the Tom Janes Award for Black Scholars was one of six new donor-funded awards for Black students announced by LA&PS’ Advancement team in 2021.

In addition to the doors opened through these empowering new funding sources, several student-focused projects have been introduced, like Advancing YU, a unique program that matches Black alumni with third- and fourth-year Black students for mentorship and skills development. The students also receive a $1,000 scholarship to help with tuition.

LA&PS also launched a dedicated Black student lounge as a result of a recommendation stemming from earlier discussions with our students. The lounge gives Black undergraduate and graduate students a safe space on campus to share their real-life experiences, recharge after a long day, or simply meet up with friends.

From interactive workshops and community dialogues to celebrating Black excellence at LA&PS, we continue to recognize ongoing inequities. While the Faculty has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to combatting inequities and fostering diversity and inclusion, and a proven track record for creating tangible, positive change in our community, we also recognize there is much more work ahead and are committed to working together to build a more supportive environment.

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