Science hosts virtual Town Hall and announces Science Anti-Racism Taskforce

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Faculty of Science hosted its virtual Anti-Racism Town Hall yesterday to listen to the Waterloo Science community about their experiences, ideas and suggestions for future change. The Town Hall was the first of many steps that Science will be taking to address issues and problems related to racism.

The goal of the Town Hall was to better understand how racism affects our lives, and how to advance equity for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) in the Faculty of Science. Approximately, 200 people attended.

The event began with a reading of the territorial acknowledgement by the moderator, Prof. Kirsten Müller and the introduction of the the Science Anti-Racism Taskforce (SART).

SART will be chaired by Dr. Andre Stanberry from the School of Optometry & Vision Science. The other members include: Nandita Basu (Earth and Environmental Sciences & Civil and Environmental Engineering); Blair Bowen (Alumni representative – BSc ’80); Trevor Charles (Biology); Okechukwu (Okey) Igboeli (Science and Business); Mary Jane Jennings (Dean of Science); Subha Kalyaanamoorthy (Chemistry); Kirsten Müller (Assistant VP, GSPA); Nardine Nakhla (Pharmacy) and Joseph Sanderson (Physics and Astronomy). The Taskforce will also include three undergraduate and one graduate student representatives who have not been selected yet. 

"I initiated this task force in response to many calls from members of our community to take some actions related to racism within the faculty," said Lemieux. "The task force will be reporting to me. It will be my responsibility to act on those recommendations and I intend to do so."

Being grounded in the experiences of BIPOC in the Faculty of Science, 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. 

"The task force intends to identify the issues and derive recommendations for both the short-term and sustainable long-term solutions," said Stanberry.

As members of the Science community, SART is acting to service our community to eliminate racism in the faculty and contribute to limiting racism in the university overall. SART will focus on science specific issues and will coordinate with the President's Anti-Racism Taskforce to ensure that their work aligns with the broader University issues.

The event was co-hosted by the Dean of Science, Bob Lemieux, and Stanberry. All members of SART were present to hear your experiences and questions first-hand.

The focus of the Town Hall was to listen to the Science community about their experiences, concerns and ideas for change. Members of the Science community bravely shared their experiences and concerns, shedding light on racism in Science. Students, faculty, staff and alumni asked questions related to SART, outreach, training support, faculty and staff demographics as well as resources and support services available.

If you would like to share your experiences, ideas, or suggestions for change, please continue to use the anonymous Anti-Racism Feedback Form. SART will be reviewing all content submissions and welcomes feedback and suggestions for change as it moves forward.

We would like to thank all participants and attendees for their questions, comments and participation in the Town Hall. Let's keep the conversation going.


Resources:

The Equity Office and Conflict Management and Human Rights Office provides support to students, faculty and staff who have experienced racism.

  • If you need a space for support, understanding your resources, potential next steps and/or advocacy: connect with the Equity Office.
  • If you would like to explore informal mediation, understand your rights, or file a grievance under a Policy 33, please connect with Matt Erickson.

Additionally, if you are experiencing distress, Campus Wellness has resources available during COVID-19 as well Here 24/7 is also available in the Waterloo Region, just phone 1-844-437-3247.