On October 1 and 2, 2020, Canadian universities and colleges came together to discuss how to create programs that are more inclusive of Black students and to develop concrete actions for change in higher education. These meetings eventually resulted in the Scarborough Charter.
The Varsity broke down what the charter means for U of T and when you can expect to see changes happen because of it.
The charter — meant to address anti-Black racism and Black inclusion in Canadian postsecondary institutions through principles, actions, and accountability mechanisms — was signed on November 18, 2021 by over 40 institutions, including U of T. By signing the charter, these institutions made a commitment to eliminating barriers for Black scholars, students, faculty, staff, and other community members. The Scarborough Charter is the first national action plan to do this.
In one section of the Scarborough Charter, its creators wrote that “the Charter drafting exercise was truly a collaborative effort on a national scale, with input from various members of the higher education sector and other partners.” From March to June of 2021, non-partner institutions had the opportunity to provide feedback on the charter as well.
The charter has five sections, each dedicated to the overall “commitments to action” by applying changes at the structural and governance level. These include implementing change in core areas such as research, teaching, and learning, as well as community engagement.
“The sections are not meant to be addressed sequentially but are meant to be worked on in an integrated manner, based on institutional plans and the work plan of the Inter-Institutional Forum,” UTSC Vice-President and Principal Wisdom Tettey wrote in a statement to The Varsity.
The Charter states that its “principles-based commitments to an action apply to governance in decision-making processes and structures at all levels of the institution, to research, to teaching and learning, and to community engagement.”
Tettey further clarified that accountability measures would begin with a meeting of all the institutions who signed in February, to set out timelines and priorities for carrying out the goals of the charter. Tettey added that data is an important step for taking “meaningful action,” and the university is planning a partnership with Statistics Canada to “engage with this need.”