SFU Stands in Solidarity Against Racism

June 02, 2020

Recent incidents of anti-Black violence and discrimination in Canada and the United States provide a disturbing reminder of the prevalence of racism within our societies, and have caused much pain, anger and distress for Black students, faculty and staff.

Despite our commitments to human rights, universities like SFU are not immune to anti-Black and anti-Asian racism, nor to discrimination directed against Indigenous peoples.

Only a few weeks ago, I condemned the anti-Asian racism seen in our communities and spoke of our shared obligation to oppose racial discrimination in all its forms.

The events of recent days add further urgency to this cause. Racism has no place in our society, and we have a responsibility not only to condemn discriminatory behaviour, but also to take action to support inclusion for all.

At SFU, this starts with acknowledging the role we play in perpetuating systemic discrimination, and accepting that we have work to do to ensure that our ideals for a just society are reflected in our own practices, policies and procedures.

To this end, last year we appointed an executive team led by Dr. Joy Johnson to develop an action plan to advance equity, diversity and inclusion across the university. Supported by a pan-university advisory council, the group’s mandate is to eliminate systemic barriers and inequities in access, admissions, recruitment, career development, pay, working and learning conditions, resources, retention and progression.

While that work, including data gathering, is underway, we have much more to learn and much more to do. SFU leadership is committed to growth and change, and I am grateful to many for the part they are playing in building a university community where all feel included.

For students, faculty and staff who experience grief, trauma and/or stress resulting from racism and violence, support is available:

I have been heartened, as I have said many times in recent weeks, by the energy and commitment that SFU students, faculty and staff have shown to keep our community safe from the threat of COVID-19. Let us now apply that same energy and commitment to ensuring that our community is safe from the threat of racism and discrimination.

It’s all of our responsibility to combat racism, but none more so than those of us who have benefited from white privilege.