Office of the President

Andrew Petter, President and Vice-Chancellor

Petter's Perspective: Notes from the President

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An important time to show our commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion

November 29, 2016

Many of us have watched and listened with alarm and dismay at the rise in racist and sexist discourse, and attacks on immigrants and ethnic minorities, during and following this year’s Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and the recent election campaign in the United States.

Sadly, these developments are not limited to Britain and the United States. Nativist and xenophobic movements are evident elsewhere in the world, and Canada has not been immune to incidents of sexism and racial intolerance.

In the face of these trends, it is important for the Simon Fraser University community to pull together and to provide reassurance and support to students, staff and faculty, many of whom are feeling fearful and disheartened.

SFU is an institution whose strength is based on our shared commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion. Diversity is an underlying principle of our Strategic Vision, which pledges SFU to “foster a culture of inclusion and mutual respect, celebrating the diversity and multi-ethnic character reflected amongst its students, staff, faculty, and our society."  The Vision also commits SFU “to engender an active global citizenship amongst its students, faculty and staff” and to “sustain a work environment that is equitable [and] supportive.”

These commitments reflect core institutional values, but they are only as good as we make them.  In these troubling times, it is important for all of us to redouble our efforts to live up to these commitments.  I urge all members of the university community to speak out against racism, sexism, xenophobia and other forms of discrimination; to reach out and support those amongst us who are feeling anxious, dispirited and vulnerable; and to demonstrate in every way possible our devotion to the values that bind us together and that we hold dear. 

In doing so, we can take heart in knowing that these same values are shared by the great majority of Canadians, and by huge numbers of people around the globe.  Working in concert with them, we have the ability not only to nurture a positive campus environment, but also to help bend the arc of history toward a more just and compassionate world.