Anti-Black Racism Task Force Report

Hope, Progress, and Continued Resolve: Marking One Year Since the Entrustment of the
Anti-Black Racism Task Force Report

In May 2022, the University of Toronto joined partners across the institution in marking one year since the entrustment of the Report of the University of Toronto Anti-Black Racism Task Force. The President, Vice-President & Provost, and Vice-President, People Strategy, Equity & Culture commissioned the Report in response to global anti-Black racism protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, local protests against systemic racism in Canada, and impassioned calls from the University community for urgent and meaningful change.

The 25-member Anti-Black Racism Task Force consulted with a range of University partners and working groups. In March 2021, the Report identified 56 action-oriented recommendations to address systemic anti-Black racism and advance Black equity, inclusion, and excellence across U of T’s three campuses.

Anti-Black Racism Task Force at a Glance

Four Co-Chairs:

Roger Bulgin,
Chief Administrative Officer at Woodsworth College

Desma Charlemagne-Michel,
Director of Human Resources at U of T Scarborough

Professor Dexter Voisin,
former Dean of the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work

Professor Njoki Wane,
Chair of Social Justice Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

Task Force Members:

  • 6 Faculty Members and Instructors
  • 5 Undergraduate and Professional Program Students
  • 5 Staff
  • 3 Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Fellows

Read the ReportRead the Administrative Response

At a virtual ceremony in May 2021, Task Force co-chair Roger Bulgin expressed “hope and optimism” in entrusting the Report to the University, adding that it has the potential to “act as a catalyst in addressing not only anti-Black racism, but also xenophobia, anti-Indigenous racism, anti-Asian racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia and all forms of discrimination.”

 

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Igniting Inspired Action

Since the Report’s release in 2021, students, staff, faculty, and librarians across the University community have collaborated to develop initiatives that directly address the Report’s recommendations.

The programs and initiatives launched across U of T in response to the Task Force Report cover a cross-section of the U of T community, spanning areas of academic research and funding, student life, recruitment, and employment equity.

A selection of these initiatives follows.

A Campus-Specific Approach

Recognizing the unique landscape and priorities of U of T’s
tri-campus community, the UTM and UTSC Equity Offices have established institutional operational groups focused on developing campus-specific approaches to implementing the Report’s recommendations.

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UTM

In 2021, the Vice-President and Principal, UTM and Vice-Dean, Academic and Dean launched the Anti-Black Racism Operational Group in partnership with the University of Toronto Mississauga Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Office. The group of students, academics, and administrative staff (coordinated by Heather Hines, Acting Director of the Office of the Vice-President and Principal) initiated an implementation plan. Going forward, it will match the Report’s commitments with specific UTM partners, sharing action plans and timelines, celebrating milestones, and suggesting areas in need of additional resources.

UTSC

The Director of the University of Toronto Scarborough Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Office partnered with the Vice-Dean Faculty Affairs, Equity and Success in 2021 to co-facilitate the Anti-Black Racism Task Force Reading Group for UTSC Librarians, Faculty and Staff. In February, Principal Wisdom Tettey and UTSC’s EDI Office established the Anti-Black Racism Black Inclusion Advisory Committee. The committee will provide ongoing assistance and advice as UTSC embeds the Task Force’s recommendations into all areas of study and campus operations. These recommendations—supported by the Scarborough Charter signed in Fall 2021—have inspired the review and redesign of several admissions processes.

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Research

Recommendation 4.2: That the Black Research Network (BRN) should receive ongoing support from the Provostial budget for operational and administrative costs.

In October 2021, Institutional Strategic Initiatives established the Black Research Network (BRN)—a network of researchers created to promote Black excellence across the University and enhance cross-divisional and interdisciplinary research capacity of Black scholars at the University and externally.

Led by Director Professor Beth Coleman, the network focuses on research, mentorship, community, and fundraising. Since its launch, the BRN has collaborated with multiple U of T divisions to offer scholarships, fellowships, and research grant opportunities to increase Black interdisciplinary representation in academia.

Students

Recommendation 3.4: That the results from Student Equity Census are shared at minimum annually with faculties, colleges and campuses, to facilitate access programs and recruitment strategies geared towards Black students.

Led by the Office of the Vice-Provost, Students and launched in 2020, the Student Equity Census is an ongoing data collection initiative open to all registered University of Toronto students.
In December 2021, the University of Toronto re-launched the U of T Student Equity Census with an updated set of demographic questions and categories based on student feedback.

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The U of T Student Equity Census Advisory Roundtable added a more fulsome question on racial and/or ethnocultural identity and updated the categories and format of the gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability questions. Student response to the revised census has been very positive, with engagement more than doubling in its second year.

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People Strategy, Equity & Culture

Recommendation 3.3: That the Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity strike a committee, with Black voices well-represented, to assess ways in which existing employee data can best be collected and presented in ways that are respectful of the law and privacy needs, but that enable the community to assess accurate rates of employee representation across the University.

The Vice-President, People Strategy, Equity & Culture (formerly Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity) issued a Call for Membership for a new Employment Equity Survey Advisory Group in December 2021. Its responsibilities include evaluating the current questions in the Employment Equity Survey and exploring how the University can best analyze and report employment equity data.

Recommendation C.1: That central Human Resources & Equity develop, in consultation with U of T Black and racialized employees and EDI experts, a guide to best practices in recruitment and selection, to be used by all hiring panels and HR representatives at the University.

In collaboration with the Institutional Equity Office, the Division of People Strategy, Equity & Culture developed a Diversity in Recruitment Manual, released in early 2022. In addition to identifying barriers for Black applicants in the recruitment and hiring process, the Manual encourages Unconscious Bias training for recruiters and interview panelists.

Harnessing the Power of Community

The initiatives launched across the University of Toronto’s three campuses reflect our collective commitment to implement the recommendations of the Anti-Black Racism Task Force Report. Ongoing efforts of U of T students, faculty, librarians, and staff—and partners external to U of T—will ensure the change the Task Force envisioned is sustainable.

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“The Report of the Anti-Black Racism Task Force speaks powerfully to the necessity of change in our systems and practices. By fully supporting Black excellence, access, and inclusion across our three campuses, we create the conditions for all of us to thrive—and an environment where every member of our community can meaningfully engage in the opportunities and activities this University has to offer.”

Kelly Hannah-Moffat, Vice-President, People Strategy, Equity & Culture

 

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Being Accountable

To communicate institutional progress on implementing Task Force recommendations, the President’s Office, Provost’s Office, and the Division of People Strategy, Equity & Culture collaborated to launch an interactive Commitments Dashboard. In future phases, this dashboard will be expanded to provide progress on the University’s commitments to all institutional equity reports in addition to Answering the Call: Wecheehetowin, U of T’s TRC Steering Committee Report. The dashboard will also include status updates on equity programs and initiatives across our three campuses.