‘No more delays!’ YUFA Exec calls on York admin to implement recommendations for Black faculty hiring

YUFA's Executive Committee is calling on the senior administration of the University to take immediate steps to implement the four recommendations of the report, “Increasing the Representation of Black Faculty Members at York,” which was prepared by the Joint Subcommittee on Employment Equity and Inclusivity and delivered to the Employer on January 9, 2020.

“The YUFA Executive fully endorses this report, and congratulates the members of the Joint Subcommittee for their hard work,” says Arthur Hilliker, YUFA President. “The administration must act now to ensure that the report’s recommendations, especially on hiring Black faculty, are implemented as soon as possible.”

The report’s recommendations include: 

  1. Six targeted hires during the course of the current Collective Agreement
  2. A review and revision of current Affirmative Action processes at York
  3. Improved supports to increase the pool of potential Black candidates
  4. Improved supports to retain Black faculty at York, including future hires

The full report (10 pages) is available here.

One year ago, YUFA issued an earlier statement in support of Black faculty hiring. The statement  expressed YUFA’s  disappointment that the Employer rejected a bargaining proposal to create a targeted hires program for Black faculty, similar to the Indigenous Hires Program that was successfully negotiated in the 2015-16 round of bargaining. In the subsequent round, the Employer would only agree to a joint task force to study whether Black faculty face meaningful inequities at the University. Drawing on the extensive research of its members, YUFA responded that more than enough data already demonstrated the inequities Black faculty experience.

Its work now completed, the joint task force draws the same conclusion. For example, while data indicate that 7.5% of Toronto’s population is Black, Black faculty comprise only 2.3% of the faculty complement at York.

Indeed, there are three Faculties at the University that have no Black faculty members at all.

“This report confirms what Black and racialized members have been telling the University all this time, and should give the administration a greater sense of urgency, especially at this critical political moment” adds Sheila Embleton, YUFA Chief Steward. “The admin is right to speak out against anti-Black racism, but we need to translate those words into actions.”

Members of YUFA’s Executive Committee had a preliminary discussion of the report on April 1, 2020 in a meeting with York University President Rhonda Lenton;  Provost and Vice-President Academic Lisa Philipps; and Vice-President Equity, People and Culture Sheila Cote-Meek. YUFA welcomes the discussions that have followed, especially where they have moved in the direction of implementation.

“While we appreciate the challenges of our present circumstances, we urge the University not to let the pandemic compromise its stated commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion,” says Lykke de la Cour, YUFA Equity Officer. “Indeed, it is in difficult moments like these that our commitment to Equity is truly tested.

“Let’s make sure we pass that test, and implement the report’s recommendations without further delay.”

Last week, YUFA’s Race Equity Caucus (REC) issued a call for action on anti-Black racism at York University, which includes REC’s endorsement of the report’s recommendations and the call for the administration to implement them. YUFA’s Executive Committee would like to thank REC for its leadership on this issue, which spans many years, and endorses its demands.

On June 2, OCAD U announced its “hiring of five new tenure-track faculty members who self-identify as Black peoples of African Descent (including Africans and African heritage people from the Caribbean, North America and Latin America), as a special program under the Ontario Human Rights Code.” YUFA encourages the senior administration to follow the lead of OCAD U and commit the necessary resources to expand the representation of Black faculty at York University.

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