On July 16, KPU President Alan Davis announced the establishment of an institution-wide task force on antiracism (TFA). President Davis noted that the recent tragic stories from the U.S. and Canada have been top of mind as a result of immense media and social media attention. He wrote: “We denounce the racism that led to these events, but we recognize that these are also the latest in a long and ongoing history of race-based violence and discrimination. The issues coalesced around systemic racism toward Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) in our communities and on our campuses.”
KPU’s Vision 2023 calls for positive changes to the experiences of KPU students, employees, and friends; to cultural and social sustainability; and to increasing value-based scholarship that addresses social needs. President Davis noted that none of these goals can be successfully achieved without working against racism and, in particular, paying attention to the experiences of BIPOC members of the KPU community.
KPU has already undertaken various equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) initiatives. Currently, an EDI action plan, an Indigenization strategy, as well as a number of other projects are in progress. The President’s Diversity and Equity Committee (PDEC) and a number of other important internal and external networks have been set up to further advance KPU’s commitment to EDI. KPU is also a signatory to the Dimensions charter on EDI, and taking action on antiracism will be integral to meeting these commitments. Many at KPU are already actively engaged in advancing antiracism in the classroom, in student life, and in the community. The TFA will build on these initiatives and provide an opportunity to work on issues of racism in particular.
“Words are important, but action will set us on the path to change. This is why we have taken some time to carefully consider how best to approach this very important work at KPU, even during these extraordinary times of re-imagining our core mission during a global pandemic,” wrote Davis.
The TFA will be a catalyst for action, and will include key faculty, staff, administrators, and students, and will be led by Dr. Asma Sayed, whose teaching and scholarship includes many aspects of antiracism and intersectional social justice.
“I am glad to see KPU’s commitment to antiracism. We will hear from and consult with BIPOC at KPU and learn from their lived experiences. Over the next 18 months, the TFA will provide us with opportunities to self reflect, to recognize our biases, and to move forward toward making concrete long-term changes through education, collaborative thinking, and policy changes,” said Sayed.
Over the next 18 months, the TFA will work towards creating institutional supports and opportunities for teaching, research, and scholarship on racial equity, systemic oppression, and intersectional social justice. It will also create a space for the KPU community to share their experiences, knowledge, research, creativity, and teaching resources relating to confronting racism.
The TFA steering committee will begin its work in September, with the initial goals of setting the terms of reference, long-term objectives, and planning various educational initiatives. Progress will be reported out regularly, with updates being posted to https://wordpress.kpu.ca/antiracism/