A new committee set up to develop programs and strategies for tackling anti-Black racism at Ryerson says its work is well underway to address issues relating to students, faculty and staff.
Convened by President Mohamed Lachemi, the Presidential Implementation Committee to Confront Anti-Black Racism was announced last summer to help actualize and execute the 14 recommendations laid out in the university’s most recent Anti-Black Racism Campus Climate Review Report.
“For students, it ranges from issues of belonging, safety, curriculum, programming, to dedicated space for Black students,” said Denise O’Neil Green, Ryerson’s Vice-President, Equity and Community Inclusion, and one of the co-chairs of the committee. “For staff and faculty, it focuses on recruitment, promotion, the ability to move up the ranks, and their contributions being valued.”
One of the key areas for students specifically, Green said, is the academic curriculum, and how to better integrate content that engages Black faculty and staff, and that draws on the work of Black scholars.
“Our strategy is to engage individuals across campus who have the decision-making responsibility to actually implement these various recommendations,” she said. “This includes, for example, meeting with the vice-provost, academic, to discuss proposed curriculum changes.”
Some of the changes outlined in the campus review are already underway, said Green. One of the recommendations of the anti-Black racism report was to increase funding, create and develop various events, meetings and information sessions that specifically support Black students.
“My team has been supporting a cross-campus committee on Black excellence that creates initiatives that specifically centre Black students, including the first virtual Black graduation ceremony, a Black students, faculty and staff mixer, and the first Black student achievement award ceremony,” Green said.
She noted that the university also continues to support and champion Black women through initiatives such as the popular Viola Desmond Awards and Bursary Program, which is now in its 13th year.