You are now in the main content area

Update from the Presidential Implementation Committee to Confront Anti-Black Racism

Progress report outlines how the university has been confronting anti-Black racism
Category:From the Presidential Implementation Committee to Confront Anti-Black Racism
February 25, 2022
Three Black students talk together in front of a bookcase.

Recommendations from the Anti-Black Campus Climate Review Report aim to create an environment where Black students, faculty and staff are prioritized and respected. Photo: Weekend Images Inc.

The 14 recommendations from the  (PDF file) Anti-Black Racism Campus Climate Review Report published by the university’s Office of the Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion (OVPECI) in 2020 further advance our vision of being a national leader in equity, diversity and inclusion. By creating an environment where Black students, faculty and staff are prioritized, valued, respected and feel they belong, we work to fulfil the mission of public education, strengthen communities and advance the university's values.

In November 2021, the 44 members of the student, faculty and staff working groups met. As the three executive co-chairs overseeing the implementation of the report’s recommendations, we are pleased to share a few key highlights from each working group to update our community on their progress. A more detailed summary of implementation activities is available on the new Confronting Anti-Black Racism website which will serve as a hub for updates and resources on this important initiative.

Key progress highlights

Student Working Group

Established a Black Student Advisory Committee

To address the student recommendations and inform the work of the Student Working Group, a Black Student Advisory Committee (BSAC) was created, composed of students representing various student groups, faculties and departments and those passionate about gathering additional data from students regarding the campus climate review. 

The BSAC facilitated 12 community consultations and conducted a survey of experiences of anti-Black racism among 378 Black-identifying respondents from the university. The BSAC’s consultation work informed a  (PDF file) Review of Recommendations Report published in November 2021 which provides the Student Working Group with additional information to realize the student recommendations of the report.

Audited courses and faculty 

Student recommendation #1: A concerted and deliberate effort to diversify disciplines and programs should be undertaken. This would include curriculum, internships, placements and other program practices that impact student success.

To measure diversity in curriculum and course delivery, an audit was conducted. The audit found 116 courses across the university with Afrocentric, Black- and Caribbean-centred content, and identified Black teaching staff across faculties and programs. The audit provides a snapshot and benchmark to inform curriculum development and improve hiring practices of Black teaching staff.

Student working group recommendation #5: Funding of events, meetings and information sessions that specifically support and centre Black students should be created and/or enhanced.

An addition to the university’s Student Initiatives Fund (SIF), the Black Initiatives Fund (BIF) has been established to provide dedicated funding to develop and advance events, meetings and information sessions that specifically support and centre Black students. The SIF provides $9,000 in potential funding for student initiatives, and the BIF adds a potential $5,000 to initiatives that centre Black student development. Intersectional initiatives that amplify Blackness and mental health, queerness, ability, gender identity and expression and decolonization are being encouraged.

Faculty Working Group

Improved approaches to hiring and mentorship 

Faculty working group recommendation #1: Ryerson should design and/or enhance programs for recruiting Black faculty members across all its programs. Cluster hires and other group-based recruitment methods should be experimented with so that new Black faculty entering the university have a community that can be clearly identified.

In an effort to recruit Black faculty and Black scholars to the university, the Faculty Working Group has drafted language for job ads to specifically attract candidates who self-identify as Black. This will advance equity in the hiring process and ensure that Black scholars’ applications are assessed on the basis of their unique strengths and contributions. 

Candidates for faculty positions are now also being asked to voluntarily participate in a diversity self-ID. This has been implemented on the faculty recruitment portal at the point of application for all tenure track and limited term faculty contract hires. Additionally, equity advocates and other interested members of academic search committees have been trained on inclusive hiring developed and delivered by Office of the Vice Provost, Faculty Affairs (OVPFA) in conjunction with OVPECI and the Black Faculty and Staff Community Network. 

In 2021, the percentage of full-time Black faculty increased by 18 per cent and represented 17 per cent of all new full-time faculty hires at the university. 

To further support both recruitment and retention, postdoctoral fellowships for Black scholars are being developed to improve the applicant pool of Black scholars by strengthening their capacity and qualifications. The development of a career mentorship program for Black graduate students is also being undertaken. In addition, an Interdisciplinary Knowledge Hub/Black Studies Institute is under development to mobilize Black scholarship production, support student mentorship in Black scholarship, build research collaboration internally and externally, and support the external Black community with research evidence. 

Staff Working Group

Gained insight on employee needs 

Staff working group recommendation #2: A process of building trust among Black staff that involves both unions and senior management at the university.

An environmental scan and research of best practices was conducted and current and emerging industry trends were identified. Consultations were hosted both with external organizations and 16 internal groups. The data has been analyzed to better understand employee expectations, gaps and challenges, and to determine how competencies should be implemented and measured. Competencies are currently being developed, and there will be further consultations with stakeholder groups once the competencies are drafted. 

New website now available!

To stay apprised of the implementation progress of the 14 recommendations of the Anti-Black Racism Campus Climate Review Report, please visit the new Confronting Anti-Black Racism website.

Looking ahead

Secretariat for the Presidential Implementation Committee to Confront Anti-Black Racism (PICCABR) 

We would like to thank the working groups for their hard work and dedication, while acknowledging students, faculty and staff across the university who are engaged in anti-Black racism efforts and other equity, diversity and inclusion work.

We would also like to recognize Grace-Camille Munroe, who joined as project manager in July and Mary Ola, project coordinator. Munroe has provided leadership on behalf of the co-chairs to advance the implementation of the recommendations, and Ola has demonstrated her exceptional support and dedication to this important file.

Let’s keep working together to ensure that our university is a place where all members of the Black community, and the entire campus community, feel welcomed, included and able to bring their whole selves to their campus activities.

Denise O'Neil Green, Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion
Jennifer Simpson, Provost and Vice-President, Academic
Saeed Zolfaghari, Vice-President, Administration and Operations

More News