Inclusion benefits us all

October 04, 2021

As we return to in-person learning, teaching and working, living by our values is more important than ever.

Over the last 19 months, we have seen worldwide increases in racism, discrimination and hate. The oral histories of residential school survivors were confirmed in Kamloops and at former residential school sites across Canada. The effects of ongoing anti-Black racism continue to ripple out through our communities. There has been a sharp increase in anti-Asian and anti-Muslim hate in the lower mainland.

SFU is not an exception to this. This happens here. It happens to our students, faculty and staff. I have personally heard stories from community members who have had hateful, hurtful things said to them, who have felt targeted and excluded, who are afraid to express who they are. This is unacceptable. We have much work to do as a community.

But over these past months, we have also seen a surge of energy. From protests in the streets to calls for action on social media and in government offices, there has been a renewed societal effort to move towards creating a more inclusive and equitable world. We have the opportunity to join this movement and make SFU a leader for change—a truly inclusive university where everyone feels a sense of belonging.

This week, we are launching Inclusion benefits us all: a collection of tools, resources and actions each of us can take to ensure that others—particularly our 37,000+ students—feel safe, welcome and included at SFU. This is up to us, and is part of our responsibility to one another as members of this community.

When we all feel included at SFU, we’re more eager to engage and share new ideas. When we feel connected and supported in learning, teaching, research and work, our classrooms and campuses become more vibrant and diverse. And that strengthens our ability to create lasting change, not just at SFU, but within the society we serve.

While there are actions we can and must take at an individual level to create a more inclusive environment, lasting change also stems from the creation of more equitable structures and systems. These are important responsibilities that administration must oversee. 

Our incoming VP, People, Equity and Inclusion, will help create and shape more equitable policies and practices. SFU’s Human Rights Policy (GP 18) will address racism and discrimination on our campuses, and our new Bullying and Harassment Policy (GP 47) will address bullying and harassment within the university community. If you have not yet completed the new Respectful Working and Learning Environment canvas module, please be reminded that it is mandatory for all SFU employees, and I highly recommend completing this training as soon as you can.

As we continue navigating the transition back to campus, I want to stress that every member of the SFU community deserves to be treated with respect, kindness and compassion. We all benefit when we create a campus environment where everyone feels included. I hope you will join me in working towards that goal, together. 


Joy Johnson