Dear AMPD Community,
The AMPD Strategic Plan (2020) stated our commitment to the “implementation of significant and sustainable inclusive practices and (an) equity framework to promote equal access and recognition of the multiplicities across all departments and programs in AMPD.” To that end, we contacted the Kojo Institute (“Kojo”) in Winter 2020 to help us develop an equity plan and strategy for the School.
As we all know well, COVID disrupted the original timetable for these plans, and further global events throughout 2020 revealed just how far our community is from its stated ambition to be a welcoming, supportive, and respectful place for everyone. Throughout 2020, students, alumni, faculty and staff also shared their own experiences of racism and other oppressions in AMPD, with related calls systemic and structural change, and accountability. To be clear, racism, sexism, and all forms of oppression, exclusion, harassment, and intimidation have no part in our School. It is incumbent among all of us to acknowledge our own individual role in creating and perpetuating a culture of equity, respect and support throughout AMPD.
To that end, the School commissioned Kojo to undertake a thorough equity assessment, analysis, and action plan for AMPD, including both qualitative and quantitative data collection. This process included a review of our current policies and documents, and gathering information and accounts through focus groups, individual interviews, and a survey to all members of the AMPD community. That review is now completed and was presented by Kojo at Faculty Council (January 2022), including a report and recommendations for future actions. You can read the full report here. I am tremendously grateful to everyone who participated in this process and I encourage everyone affiliated with AMPD – faculty, staff, administration, alumni – to read and engage with this report and its recommendations.
Along with the advocacy from our students and alumni, the report is an important call to action for all of us in AMPD. I am encouraged to note that since Kojo’s review began in April 2021, a number of actions recommended in the report have already begun at AMPD. These include:
- Establishment of a Faculty Council Committee specific to Equity, Diversity, Decolonization & Inclusion;
- Establishment of EDI committees in all of our 7 AMPD departments;
- Department of Theatre’s Action to enhance Equity, Diversity, Decolonization,
- Department of Cinema and Media Arts Open Forum/Action Plan on Anti-Racism;
- Guest lectures, events, and discussion highlight IBPOC artists, designers, and scholars of colour and equity and decolonisation across the fields of arts, design, and media;
- Curricular revisions to decolonize programs and address Eurocentrism;
- Targeted hires for Black and Indigenous colleagues, with explicit priorities for increased representation among faculty and staff in all units;
- Revision of job ads and hiring plans to prioritize experience with EDI.
These are only a few of the ongoing initiatives to move our Faculty towards inclusivity. However to be clear, the results from Kojo’s report inform us that there is much more that needs to be done.
Our first step will be to implement all of the practicable recommendations in the near term, beginning with sharing this report and acknowledging its findings and our actions to implement the recommendations. Monthly updates from me and my office posted here will keep our community informed on the status of these as well as sharing related resources, including trainings, meetings, and others called for the equity plan.
We will also establish a dashboard to track relevant metrics and a timeline for individual objectives, actions, and completed items. This timeline outlines the structural recommendations made within the equity plan, including the current status of each.
The report also makes clear that many in our community are not aware of available resources. A full listing of all available resources in AMPD and at York will also be provided here with a range of options and regular updates as new items are added. We will also clearly track all of our efforts in coordination and alignment with the York University Indigenous Framework and the Action Plan for Black Inclusion.
Finally, the report outlines a series of systemic recommendations. The report acknowledges that largely reside outside the School of AMPD, but also call for continued advocacy within the larger University context. Updates from efforts across the University will be shared as we seek to align our efforts in AMPD within the larger University initiatives and actions.
In closing, I want to acknowledge my own role and responsibility in the status quo at AMPD and to again confirm my commitment to future actions that place equity and excellence at the centre of our work together. I look forward to our next steps and to moving our School forward as a welcoming and supportive community for all.