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Home » Strategic Priorities » Supporting Open & Respectful Dialogue

Supporting Open & Respectful Dialogue

Program Purpose

This program offers funding, logistical support and resources to students, staff and faculty members who are trying to develop conversation and connections across differences.

Exploration, conversation, and debate regarding complex and sometimes contested issues is crucial to York’s purpose as an academic institution: the generation and circulation of knowledge. The President’s Initiative on Open and Respectful Dialogue identified four principles to guide our engagement with each other and with difficult topics:

  1. Safety is our priority: Every member of the York community must be and feel safe on our campuses. Students, faculty, instructors, and staff have the right to fully participate in all facets of university life without harassment, intimidation, threats, disruption or acts of violence.
  2. We have no tolerance for discrimination: Targeting any member of the York community based on their race, religion, national origin, or any other identified characteristic is unacceptable and will never be tolerated.
  3. We respect the right to free speech and the free exchange of ideas: York is committed to the fundamental values of free expression, free inquiry and respect for genuine diversity of thought and opinion. It is the right of all community members and invited guests to express their views within the law and without fear of intimidation or harassment.
  4. We are all responsible:  Every group and individual member of the York community must uphold these principles. There is a collective and individual responsibility to protect the rights of every member of the York community to a safe environment in which ideas can be freely exchanged.

The Supporting Open & Respectful Dialogues Program helps to realize the university’s purpose and principles by supporting initiatives by York community members to discuss complex issues, with the goals of deepening individual and collective understanding while demonstrating respect for others’ dignity and freedoms.

Program Parameters

  • The Supporting Open & Respectful Dialogues Program offers limited financial ($500-$1000) and logistical resources (e.g., advertising, room reservations) to projects that strive to cultivate open and respectful dialogue in diverse forms, across diverse topics, and among diverse people.
  • Initiatives can be led by current students, staff, and/or faculty members, whether individuals or groups.
  • Projects can have “local” or specific intended audiences (e.g., members of a particular discipline or groups), but these audiences/attendees must represent a range of viewpoints (e.g., different “sides” of an issue).
  • Any provided support is not intended to be recurring or ongoing, but instead offers initial start-up support for new efforts.
  • Events and activities must comply with University Policy.

Application Process

Our goal is to support good ideas, intentions, and efforts by York community members, so we have tried to make the application process as simple and accessible as possible. Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like some guidance:

The online application form will ask you to share brief descriptions of the following:

  • How the project will strive to cultivate open and respectful dialogue regarding a complex issue;
  • What near- and/or long-term “success” will look like to organizers and how this will be assessed;
  • How organizers will share the project’s impact and outcomes to a wider community (e.g., written report? other event documentation?);
  • The practices, techniques, or approach that will be used to promote the open and respectful engagement of diverse people and perspectives;
  • The project’s anticipated attendees/participants and steps organizers will take to ensure the involvement of diverse people and perspectives;

  • The skills, aptitude and readiness of project organizers/facilitators to promote open and respectful dialogue;
  • Steps organizers/facilitators will take to prevent and mitigate adverse consequences for attendees/participants; and
  • The project’s duration, the forms of support requested, and how funds will be used (please note that funds have to be used in accordance with University policies, see for details).

Applications can be submitted at any time and will be reviewed quarterly in March, June, September, and December.

Upcoming Information Sessions

Tuesday, March 19, 4:00 to 4:30 p.m.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 997 4579 6531
Passcode: 027012


Wednesday, March 20, noon to 12:30 p.m.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 969 5275 6267
Passcode: 129398