The Faculty of Science is committed to advancing equity for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC). On June 24, 2020, the Faculty of Science held a virtual Anti-Racism Town Hall to listen to the Waterloo Science community share their experiences, ideas and suggestions for future change. The Town Hall was the first of many steps that the Faculty will be taking to address the issues and problems related to racism. If you missed the Town Hall, some of the questions asked are summarized in the FAQ section.
During the Town Hall, Bob Lemieux, Dean of Science, announced the formation of a Science Anti-Racism Taskforce (SART). Being grounded in the experiences of BIPOC in the Faculty of Science, the SART will focus on issues and problems related to racism, and will make recommendations aimed at creating policies and procedures to eliminate racism in all its forms, and foster a culture of equity in the Faculty of Science.
We want to hear from you about your experiences, fears, ideas and hopes and we have created an online anti-racism form for the Science community to start submitting their comments, experiences and suggestions to the SART. Together, we will grow in awareness, identify gaps and commit to change.
We want to do better. This is our opportunity to change.
School of Optometry and Visions Sciences
(Chair of SART)
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Alumni Representative (BSc, '80)
Partner, Fogler Rubinoff LLP
Science and Business
Director, Strategic Planning
Assistant VP, GSPA
School of Pharmacy
Physics and Astronomy
- If you’re a student, faculty or staff member and you’ve experienced racism and need a space for support, understanding your resources, potential next steps and/or advocacy: connect with the Equity Office at email@example.com
- If you’re a student, faculty or staff member and you’ve experienced racism and would like to explore informal mediation, understand your rights, or file a grievance under a Policy 33: connect with Matt Erickson at firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you are experiencing distress, the Campus Wellness team provides councelling services for individuals, as well as resoures for support
- Here 24/7 is also available in the Waterloo Region, providing support to those in distress: phone 1-844-437-3247
- The Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion Office (HREI) has a variety of resources available:
- A non-exhuastive list of Anti-Racism resources provided by both the UWaterloo and the Region of Waterloo communities
- The workshop EQ201 Anti-Racism Workshop on how to engage critically in anti-racism and enact anti-racist practices on campus
- Guidelines for teaching assistants as well as supervisors and managers encountering harassment and discrimination
- Racial Advocacy for Inclusion, Solidarity and Equity (RAISE) is a student-led Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA) service to address racism and xenophobia on the University of Waterloo campus
- The University of Waterloo Staff Association (UWSA) offers support and advocacy services or can connect you with supports and community resources if required
- The Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo (FAUW) Equity Committee engages in education and advocacy activities to promote equity on campus
Why is racism only being addressed now, and how can we ensure that the current momentum is not diminished in the forthcoming years?
This is an issue that should have been dealt with years ago, however, there have been many missed opportunities to address this in the past. The trauma that stems from George Floyd's murder certainly as raised awareness of racism issues, not only in the US, but broadly across the world, and created the current momentum, which is quite unique. Instead of focusing on the missed opportunities of the past, we are committed to learning and progressing.
As we embrace this momentum as a Faculty, we are focused on ensuring that there is an equitable and sustainable system within our Faculty. Building an infrastructure for our entire community to feel comfortable and having a direct line to know who to report these incidents to is going to be very important for the continued success of this initiative, in order to ensure that this course of action is sustainable.
How is the Science Anti-Racism Taskforce different from the President’s Anti-Racism Taskforce, and how are they connected?
The President’s Taskforce and the Science Taskforce have a similar focus, however, the Science Taskforce will focus on issues specific to the Faculty of Science. One member of the Science Taskforce will be appointed to sit on the President’s Taskforce as well, to ensure that there is a direct conduit between the two Taskforces.
How are students being chosen to be part of this Taskforce, and what is their role?
We are looking for 3 undergraduate students and one graduate student to be part of the Taskforce. Students received an email on June 23rd with an invitation to submit a statement or interest to sit on the Taskforce. We are gathering all of the nominations received, and the already appointed members of the Taskforce will make the final selections.
Ideally, the final committee will include 1 undergraduate student from each of the following areas of science: one from a departmental program (biology, chemistry, earth and environmental sciences, or physics and astronomy), one from the affiliated schools (School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, or School of Pharmacy), and one from an Office of the Dean program (honours science, psychology, science and aviation, or science and business).
The role and specific responsibilities of students on the Taskforce will be finalized after the entire Taskforce meets. The total number of hours required would be fluid, depending on the size of the particular tasks being tackled at one time.
Will Science Anti-Racism Taskforce student members be compensated?
Yes, the student members of SART will be compensated for their service. Faculty members will receive service credit.
What percentage of the Faculty and leadership in science are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC)?
Currently, we are not in a position to provide the statistics for this question, as individuals are not required to self-identify as a member of the BIPOC community, and it is inappropriate to make assumptions of an individual’s self-identification. This is a gap not just at the University of Waterloo, but in universities across Canada, as it is not required to systematically track the ethnicities of our faculty and staff. We have already been in contact with the equity office and are in discussions with their office, in order to fill this gap and effectively track our progress forwards.
In our hiring practices, and appointment of leadership positions, it has been an ongoing practice for some time now to take diversity and how candidates address equity within the workplace into account. This is an integral part of what we do, and is certainly an important criteria when we make decisions.
Do professors get anti-racism, training before starting at Waterloo?
Yes, all incoming professors have a module on Equity, Inclusion and Diversity (EDI) included in the training required by Faculty members. A review of this training is expected from the Science Anti-Racism Taskforce, as part of their assessment of our Faculty.
Will the science anti-racism team recommendations be made public before they are acted on?
Yes, all recommendations made by the Taskforce will be public. Transparency is critical in order to create accountability from the entire Waterloo Science community. Regular updates are also important in order to give our community the opportunity to provide feedback to the Taskforce, and sustain the engagement and momentum towards eliminating racism that we are currently experiencing.
How can recommendations can be made to the Taskforce?
Recommendations can currently be made to our Taskforce through the anti-racism feedback form. When filling out this form, you may choose to remain anonymous, or to provide your contact information if you would like us to follow up with you about your recommendations or feedback.
Moving forward, the Science Anti-Racism Taskforce is planning to set up a method for individual or small group meetings with Taskforce members. More information will be shared with our community when it is available.
How do we ensure that the recommendations being made by the Science Anti-Racism Taskforce are being heard by the university and that we see results?
The Science Anti-Racism Taskforce will have a member who is also on the President’s Anti-Racism Taskforce. This will ensure that the concerns from the Faculty of Science are heard in the University-wide discussions, and there is good communication and coordination between the two Taskforces.
Within the Faculty of Science, the Taskforce is committed to creating actionable recommendations to create both short-term and long-term solutions to racism. Additionally, Bob Lemieux, Dean of Science, is committed acting on the recommendations put forward by the Science Anti-Racism Taskforce.
As a community, we need to sustain our engagement and tackling racism in the Faculty of Science and the University of Waterloo. Accountability from our community members is important in ensuring that the recommendations are acted on. We encourage you to continue engaging with us, challenging us to have the uncomfortable conversations, and tackle this difficult issue.
If I feel I'm being discriminated against, who do I report to and how do I know that reporting won't put my student career in jeopardy?
You should feel comfortable in reporting instances of racism, knowing that you will be protected and this will not impact your academic career. There are many resources on campus at the University level, including the Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity Office and the Office of Human Rights that you can report to. You can also report to the Faculty of Science, undergraduate office or the Faculty Associate Graduate Studies to address these issues, including making a formal Policy 33 complaint, which will be sent to the Dean of Science Office. Racist behavior amongst our faculty will not be tolerated in any way, shape or form and that students will be fully supported if they experience instances of racism. We will do all we can to ensure that issues are resolved in in a way that will not compromise, or jeopardize a student's career.