Campus housing releases EDI and anti-racism plan

Graphic by Morassutti Sarah

On Thursday, Jan. 20, campus housing released their Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism Plan of Action. The Catalyst’s anti-racism newsletter, which was initially established to provide updates on the work of the President’s Anti-Racism Taskforce, described the Plan as having been developed to “advance systemic change” and service the community of cultures and faiths on campus housing, the diversity of which “makes the crucial work of creating an environment free of discrimination, injustice and violence absolutely paramount.” 

The Plan of Action can be found on the campus housing website, which states its goal to “creat[e] a welcoming space for all students” and “buil[d] anti-racist and inclusive communities.” The website reads, “Campus Housing employees know that… our campus and residences are not immune to [racist] behaviours and structures,” and outlines the four current actions Campus Housing has put in place to address such issues in more detail.  

Action One, providing spaces for equity, inclusion and anti-racism-focused student services, was remediated by using office space in Mackenzie King Village and UW Place Grand Commons exclusively for supporting student services such as the Mentor Assistance through Education and Support (MATES) and the Women’s Center.

Action Two involved a survey review completed by racialized students of the conduct system in campus housing.

Action Three involved a literary review completed by staff regarding equity, diversity and inclusion in student housing.

Action Four made the completion of anti-racism training mandatory for all campus housing staff.

The website clarifies that future actions were also planned, including that campus housing staff would now, as part of their onboarding, complete Equity 101, an online workshop, with the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism.

The website also described these actions as  “further support[ing] the 2020-2025 University of Waterloo Strategic Plan.” The Strategic Plan lists goals such as “creat[ing] a sustainable, supportive environment for living, learning, working and discovery that is worthy of our students and University community.” 

In addition, listed underneath the Plan’s mission to “Strengthen Sustainable and Diverse Communities” are several goals relevant to Campus Housing’s Plan. One is the goal to “be a people-centered institution committed to genuine care, concern, respect, inclusivity and well-being for all,” including such objectives as nurturing faculty-student relationships to create a safe and supportive learning environment, working with all stakeholders to foster personal development, social inclusion and spiritual well-being into campus culture, and creating an environment supportive of international students and their achievements.

Another goal listed in the Plan is to nurture a “connected and supportive community that inspires students, faculty, staff and alumni to achieve their personal, academic and professional goals while feeling valued,” including objectives to develop a culture fostering inclusivity as well as to broaden understanding of communities both within and outside of campus such as alumni, regional, national and international communities. 

Other actions to date advancing similar goals of combating anti-racism and fostering connections with BIPOC community members can be found on the timeline listed on UW’s anti-racism page. Alongside Campus Housing’s new inclusion plan, UW has also developed a Black Studies program set to be available in Sept. 2022, and has proposed creating a space for Indigenous staff and students to serve their cultural, social and scholarly needs. Individual faculties have also taken steps to address anti-racism, which can also be found on the anti-racism timeline.