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Security Services Review

York University is undertaking a review of its security services. The Security Services Review is a commitment and action identified in the University’s Action Plan on Black Inclusion, following consultations with members of York University Black and racialized community. Central to the review process will be anti-racist, justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. The review will take a critical and holistic approach to enhancing safety and security at York to address real issues and concerns and establish an alternative security services model. At the end of the review process a draft action plan will be created, which will include timelines for implementation.

The Security Services Review will be led by an internal expert panel comprised of individuals with experience and knowledge of anti-racism, justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, law enforcement and social policy, with lived experiences working with the York community and a desire to be allies in advancing this work. In addition, an external consultant has been hired to support the consultations and internal panel as they develop recommendations and options for a new security services model. To ensure this important initiative is fully supported with the resources required to do the work, some internal staff have been assigned.

The panel will consult with York community members over the winter and spring terms. They will begin by reaching out to Black and racialized community members including those who provided input to the University’s Action Plan on Black Inclusion as well as equity deserving groups, members of the President’s Community Safety Council and Glendon campus groups.

To uphold and promote the values of respect, anti-racism, justice, equity, diversity and inclusion on our campuses, the University engaged in consultation with members of the Black community. The result of these consultations was the development of two pivotal documents aimed at addressing anti-Black racism: A Framework at Black Inclusion and an Action Plan on Black Inclusion. The 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. The Action Plan on Black Inclusion outlines a series of strong, accountable, and action-oriented commitments that York is making in its efforts to combat anti-Black racism. Following the release of these two documents, York University, along with more than 40 Canadian post-secondary institutions, signed the Scarborough Charter. The charter is a national pledge to ongoing action against anti-Black racism and further progress towards Black inclusion. 

Following the social global mobilization and mass protests resulting from murders of unarmed Black people by police, including George Floyd in Minneapolis, the University intensified and expanded its efforts to address anti-Black racism and to take a stronger stand against systemic racism.  In June 2020, a series of conversations were held with members of the University’s Black and racialized community, to discuss their experiences with anti-Black racism on York’s campuses and to gather concrete suggestions for change. During these meetings, many experiences were shared, including feelings of a lack of personal and emotional safety, daily experiences of racial harassment, exclusion, discrimination, lack of representation, lack of respect, and barriers to academic and career advancement. Students spoke of not seeing themselves reflected in the faculty, instructors, staff, administration, and curriculum, racial profiling, and surveillance while on campus, and a lack of support. Suggestions on how to reduce systemic barriers and create greater inclusion were also shared.    

These meetings cumulated in two pivotal documents, Addressing Anti-Black Racism: A Framework on Black Inclusion and Action Plan on Black Inclusion: A Living Document for Action.  An objective under the Safety section of the action plan states: “As part of our commitment to review campus security and explore alternative models for community safety, ensure that the lens of equity, diversity and inclusion is central, and that the process will include community consultation (e.g., townhalls, focus groups) with Black community members.” The issues identified were centered on uniform security services and the interface with police. To achieve this objective, we are conducting a review of campus security services to explore alternative models for community safety. The lens of anti-racism, justice, equity, diversity and inclusion is central to this review and the process will include consultation with Black and racialized community members and members of equity deserving groups. 

  • The review is guided by an anti-racism, justice, equity, diversity and inclusion lens.
  • Flexibility is a key principle and multi-channel options for consultation will be offered, including written submissions, focused meetings, and town halls, with offerings in bilingual and accessible formats. ​
  • Inclusive, respectful and collaborative dialogue and diversity of thought will be encouraged, and individual confidentiality will be maintained in the final report. ​
  • It is appreciated that safety on campuses is a shared priority for everyone; how an individual feels safe is shaped by several factors specific to one’s lived experiences and intersectional identities. ​
  • It is also appreciated that individuals hold complex, intersectional identities where multiple affinities may apply (e.g., race, ability, religion, and gender). No single term can capture and adequately describe this complexity. For practical purposes, this review will use terms referred to in current anti-racist, justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and human rights work but individuals should be allowed to self-identify in words that have meaning for them. ​
  • The work of security services and other actors who are responsible for campus safety is challenging and complex, governed by provincial and municipal legislation and regulations. The final security services model will need to consider the provincial and municipal context within which York University operates. ​
  • Arriving at meaningful recommendations and actions for change will require focused consultations and alignment on the development of key recommendations and actions that address safety through an anti-racist, justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) lens. ​
  • To enable alignment and understanding of diverse views, the review period will include ongoing education, information, and dialogue through the principles of restorative justice, including hosting of education sessions and providing updates for the community on the review website and at consultation meetings. ​

 

  • Anti-Black racism provides a central historical context for this review, but the wider lens of EDI will also be a focus. Equity deserving groups include groups who may be disproportionately negatively impacted with respect to issues of safety and the interface with law enforcement and security agencies; these groups will be included for consultations along with Black community members.
  • Equity deserving groups can include those who are experiencing: anti-Indigenous racism; anti-Black racism (as noted above); anti-Asian racism; anti-Semitism; Islamophobia; homophobia and transphobia; discrimination due to ableism and mental health; gender inequity and violence; immigration status (non-status and international status); and language barriers.
  • It is understood that these forms of discrimination are often intersectional in nature and individuals hold multiple, complex identities (e.g., race, gender and disability). This complexity will be taken into consideration, and with flexibility built into the review process, the equity seeking groups identified to participate in the consultations can be further expanded on as the review progresses.
  • This review is intended to result in recommend actions that will provide remedies for these concerns.

 

The work will reflect the input of our entire community as we work together to: 

  • Review the role and utility of uniform and non-uniform services in supporting campus safety with consideration of hybrid models, partnerships with security and external agencies such as police and crisis response A final report, to be submitted to the Vice President Finance and Administration (VPFA) and Vice President People, Equity, Culture (VPEPC), which will outline evidence-based recommendations for an alternative security services model including implementation considerations and strategies 
  • Establish an alternative security services model to include implementation considerations and strategies  
  • Develop recommendations may consider improvements that can be made to the University’s current security services through improved education, policies, procedures, recruitment, data collection processes, the scope of this review will be broader and consider alternate, innovative approaches to delivering security services on York’s campuses, including whether some of the services currently provided by York Security Services would be best delivered by other non-uniform first responders (e.g., for wellness checks, mental health crisis calls) and/or partnerships with security services. 

The Process

The review will include consultation with York community members and stakeholders for providing security services at York. Consultation will include: written submissions, meetings with key stakeholder groups within the University, focus groups, town halls, consultation with the President’s Safety Council and Glendon campus groups.

Broader Impacts and Intersectionality 

The wider York community will be invited to participate in the consultations to provide input; specific consultations will be conducted with Indigenous, Black and other equity deserving groups. The outcome of the review will include broader impacts for the York community and will incorporate intersectional considerations within an anti-racist context.  

Internal Panel

Dr. Lorne Foster is a distinguished scholar and Professor in the School of Public Policy & Administration (SPPA) at York University and the York Research Chair in Black Canadian Studies & Human Rights (Tier 1.) He was the inaugural Chair, Race Inclusion and Supportive Environments (RISE) and currently serves as the Chair of the President’s Community Safety Council (CSC). An academic visionary, he was responsible for the first academic-industry partnership sponsored by a regulatory organization — the Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA) and established the Diversity & Human Rights Certificate (DHRC). Dr. Foster provides expert reporting and analysis on police interaction with racialized communities to law enforcement agencies across Canada. 

Dr. Carl James is a Professor in the Faculty of Education and is the Senior Advisor on Equity and Representation to the University, in the Division of Equity, People and Culture. Recognized nationally and internationally for his work in equity in relation to race, class, gender, racialization, immigration, and citizenship. He is widely acclaimed for his research contributions in the areas of intersectionality of race, ethnicity, gender, class and citizenship as they shape identification/identity; the ways in which accessible and equitable opportunities in education and employment account for the lived experiences marginalized community members.  He seeks to address and move us beyond generalized and homogenizing discourses that account for the representation and achievements of racialized people in educational institutions, workplaces, and society generally.

Dr. Celia Haig Brown is a Professor in the Faculty of Education. She is a Euro-Canadian ethnographer with a commitment to decolonizing approaches to research. Her major research interests are based in respectful and reciprocal work with Indigenous communities, nationally and internationally. Her first book (1988), a retrospective ethnography of the Kamloops Indian Residential School (KIRS), was based on interviews with former students. A revised and updated edition co-authored with Indigenous collaborators is forthcoming in fall 2022 with the title Tsqelmucwílc: The Kamloops Indian Residential School, Resistance and a Reckoning. She has published three other books, numerous articles, reports and co-directed three films including Pelq’ilc (Coming Home) with the children and grandchildren of the original participants from KIRS. She is a former chair of Senate and recently completed a term as Associate Vice-President Research.

Dr. Danielle Robinson joins this panel as a committed ally who wants to support concrete actions to enhance equity, safety, and belonging, for the benefit of York’s diverse community. She is currently the Director of CERLAC (the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean) and an Associate Professor of Dance within the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design, who is cross appointed with the graduate programs in Theatre and Performance Studies as well as Communication and Culture. Her dance scholarship focuses on the cross-cultural movement of Afro-Diasporic popular dances within the Americas, with an emphasis on intersectional communities within New York City (USA) and Bahia (Brazil). Her articles, book chapters, and monograph (Modern Moves: Dancing Race during the Ragtime and Jazz Eras, Oxford University Press) engage with how notions of race and class are embodied, entangled, explored, and controlled through dancing. Her research has been recognized with awards from the Society of Dance History Scholars, the Congress on Research in Dance, and the American Theatre focus group of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. 

External Consultant

Dr. Shaheen Azmi: Dr. Azmi is an expert in human rights, equity and anti-racism with more than 30 years of experience. For more than 22 years Dr. Azmi worked at the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) and was Director, Policy, Education, Monitoring and Outreach for 12 years where his attention centred on anti-racism, EDI policy, education and outreach and institutional change activity and included community consultations and reviews across the province. He has led the development of several of OHRC’s policies, including the development of the OHRC’s ground-breaking Policy on Eliminating Racial Profiling in Law Enforcement. He also led development and implementation of anti-racism organizational change partnerships with public sector and law enforcement organizations,  He has served as an adjunct scholar with the Multicultural History Society of Ontario for more than a decade and has also taught at Ryerson University. He holds a doctorate in social work from the University of Toronto and has co-edited two books including one on racial profiling and human rights in Canada.

Staff Support Team (SST)

Samina Sami is York University’s inaugural Executive Director of Community Safety. In 2019 she led the development of a community-driven safety strategy — Safer Together. The strategy identified several priorities for the community, including taking an intersectional EDI, anti-racist, accessibility, and anti-Semitic lens to safety. She is a long-standing member of the Race Inclusion and Supportive Environments (RISE), a member of the Health and Safety Executive Committee and the Sexual Violence Policy Advisory Committee. She has had a diverse 20-year leadership background in the justice and broader public sector, including in anti-racism, organizational transformation, gender-based violence, social innovation and research, public safety and emergency planning. Samina holds an M.Ed. from the University of Toronto and a Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA. She is also currently a doctoral student. Samina has been appointed as Executive Lead, Security Services Review.

Annette Boodram, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Program Manager in the division of Equity, People and Culture, has had responsibility for developing and implementing equity in all aspects of the employment life cycle at York. She has extensive experience in leading and educating senior teams in the process of employment equity, talent acquisition and retention. Often requested by external organizations to share her expertise on how to implement effective EDI practices, Annette holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from York University, a post-graduate certificate in Human Resources Management from Seneca College and a certificate in Human Rights Theory and Practice from Osgoode Hall Law School.  Annette has been appointed as Senior Project Lead, Security Services Review.

Sharon Henry is a full-time PhD student in the Department of Sociology and a long-standing member of Race Inclusion and Supportive Environments (RISE). She has been involved in community activism as an executive member of the Ethno-racial People with Disabilities Coalition of Ontario (ERDCO) and is an executive graduate caucus member of the Harriet Tubman Institute (HTI). Sharon is currently engaged in the creation of an HTI journal. She is an appointed member of the President’s Advisory Council on EDI and a member of the Faculty of Graduate Students Council (FGS).  Sharon has been appointed part-time Project Coordinator for the Security Services Review.        

Progress

The review team continues to engage with the community gathering input towards developing an alternative security services model.

  1. The team continues to accept Written submissions at securityreview@yorku.ca
  2. An education session was conducted on March 18
  3. Two virtual town halls were conducted on March 22 and March 29
  4. The team continues to engage in small group meetings. If you would like to participate and are part of a key stakeholder group at York University and/or you belong to a registered group at York University and identify within the anti-racist, justice equity, diversity and inclusion scope of the review, please write to securityreview@yorku.ca.

Individual York community members and York University registered groups are invited to provide written submissions to the security services review team. Please read the consultation brief and refer to the guided questions to help provide concrete feedback and/or recommendations for action. Your submissions can be sent directly to the secure email securityreview@yorku.ca. If you wish, you can write directly to Dr. Shaheen Azmi in confidence at securityreview@yorku.ca. Please include Dr. Azmi’s name in the subject line of your email and your submission will be sent directly to him.

Submissions will be accepted up until 11.59 p.m., July 30, 2022.

Please include with your submission, your name, contact information and indicate whether you are making a submission on behalf of yourself or a registered York University group.  The security services review team requires your contact information in the event they need to contact you for additional information or require permissions (see privacy statement).   All personally identifiable information provided by you will be kept confidential to the security services review team and the external consultant. Please note that all employees at York are required to sign a confidentiality agreement upon employment and are trained on privacy and the proper handling of records. Anonymized information provided in written submissions may be used in the final report. All anonymized information will be kept confidential and will be used in aggregate (see privacy statement).  In some instances, report writers may wish to use quotes from your written submission. A quote extracted from your written submission will not be utilized unless you provide explicit permission.

We will conduct focus groups/interviews and/or meetings with key stakeholder groups at York University and with registered groups at York University that identify with the anti-racist, justice equity, diversity and inclusion scope of the review.

Key stakeholder groups include equity deserving groups and groups impacted by anti-Indigenous racism; anti-Black racism (as noted above); anti-Asian racism; anti-Semitism; Islamophobia; Homophobia and Transphobia; discrimination due to ableism and mental health; gender inequity and violence; immigration status (non-status and international status); and language barriers.  In addition, consultations will take place with the President's Community Safety Council, Glendon campus groups and diverse groups representing students, faculty, and staff.

Participants in focus groups/interviews and/or meetings are encouraged to read the consultation brief and refer to the guided questions to help provide concrete feedback/recommendations for action. All personally identifiable information provided by you will be kept confidential to the security services review team and the external consultant.

Please note that all employees at York are required to sign a confidentiality agreement upon employment and are trained on privacy and the proper handling of records. Anonymized information provided in written submissions may be used in the final report. All anonymized information will be kept confidential and will be used in aggregate (see privacy statement).  In some instances, report writers may wish to use quotes from your input. A quote extracted from your input will not be utilized unless you provide explicit permission.

We want to hear from you

You can contact any member of the the Security Services Review team at securityreview@yorku.ca