York’s 2020 Annual Employment Equity report from the Division of Equity, People and Culture, which charts the inclusivity and equity amongst university staff, was released late last month.
Dr. Sheila Cote-Meek, vice president of Equity, People and Culture tells Excalibur that “diversity and inclusion are foundational values of York” and that the university has “a commitment to continual improvement,” while looking “for opportunities that support our shared values.”
Just as previous years, the recently released report provides a statistical summary of representation among five marginalized groups within the York community: women, racialized persons, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and the LGBTQ2+ community.
The 2020 equity report shows a four per cent increase in female faculty numbers for the university from its previous year, with 56 per cent of York faculty identifying as female. As per the 2019 report, however, the levels of Indigenous and racialized staff still remain lower than their respective external availability figures.
According to Cote-Meek, strides have been made in order to ensure equity among its staff, stating that the division is “committed to supporting Black faculty hires through specialized orientations and other programming.
“For the 2021-2022 hiring cycle, there were 16 Black faculty hires and seven Indigenous faculty hires,” says Cote-Meek. “For the 2022-2023 cycle (advertising for future faculty to start in July 2022), we plan on recruiting a further minimum of five dedicated Black faculty hires and five Indigenous faculty hires. These are all tenure-stream positions.”
According to the report, the 2020 ongoing initiative of the past year included “addressing anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, and other forms of discrimination.” Cote-Meek refers to many equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) initiatives that York has launched to meet their equity goals, citing the York Indigenous Framework formed in 2017 and the Addressing Anti-Black Racism: A Framework on Black Inclusion created and published in February of 2021 as two of the university’s efforts.
Alexus Nikkita Marticorena, vice president of Equity for York Federation of Students (YFS) however, states that while the university administration continuously promotes itself as equitable, she believes that York “has failed to consistently show this commitment to students, staff, and faculty.”
“Through the consultations we have had with our membership, we were able to identify several changes students wish to see reflected within their institution; these changes have been made clear to the senior administration through the demands of our Anti-Racism Campaign,” Marticorena says, further indicating that despite the efforts, “many of the demands have not been met or seriously acknowledged.”
The annual report also outlines the 2021-2022 initiatives to further improve equity for the university, including a launching of “funding opportunities for Black and Indigenous scholars,” and the eventual “university-wide EDI strategy,” which will supposedly be released by the end of 2021.
“Reports are one thing. Action is another,” states Marticorena on the future of equity for York.
“The findings of the equity report provide crucial insight on necessary areas of improvement at York,” she says. “We urge the administration to listen and take action on the various changes that members of the university have continuously indicated are necessary.”