June 24, 2020

A letter from President McCauley on anti-Black, anti-Indigenous and other forms of racism 

Message to the campus community

Earlier today, I and the rest of the University’s executive leadership team responded to an open letter on anti-Black, anti-Indigenous and other forms of racism from past and present students, faculty and staff of the University of Calgary and members of the community. This letter urged the university to do more on this important issue.

This letter brought forward many thoughtful suggestions. It pushes us to be better and I would like to thank all those who supported the letter or took other actions to make our university more inclusive. It is actions like these that make us a strong community.

Since the unconscionable death of George Floyd, I suspect there has not been a meeting at this university that hasn’t been seized with discussions on the injustices, barriers and horrific outcomes of racism. Racism is real – in society and on our campus – and we must do more. We need to break down systems that rob many among us of opportunities that are rightfully theirs. We need to acknowledge, confront and overcome conscious and unconscious bias. We need to take collective – and individual – action.

The University of Calgary condemns anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism and racism in all forms. If we want to create an environment where everybody is welcome, it’s going to take each and every one of us to commit to doing that.

Our first Vice-Provost of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), Dr. Malinda Smith, will start on August 1 of this year. Dr. Smith is a national and international leader and will help to advance us in this area. She will lead consultations with students, faculty, staff and community members on racism and I would like to request your robust participation in this process. With your input and your ideas, we can create the right action plan and take our next steps in our journey to become a truly inclusive campus.

We are fortunate to have the support and expertise of Dr. Smith and Michael Hart, our Vice-Provost Indigenous Engagement, as strategic advisors on our institutional journey.  We commit to learn from Malinda and Michael and all members of our community.

Systemic racism results in differential health outcomes. It impacts access to and performance at universities. It is a crisis that impoverishes society. The challenges relating to racism require much more than institutional messages, statements and letters. Systemic racism requires a longitudinal journey of listening, learning, compassion, and commitment to change, followed by action. 

Through all of our strategies and plans put in place over the last few years, we have aspired to create an environment where everybody feels safe, welcome, respected and equal but I know there is much more to be done. I want to know where we are failing, where we can do better and how we can build understanding and relationships. I want to know your thoughts on how we best take meaningful, authentic action.

I want to hear from you.

I’ve set up a form where you can send your thoughts and suggestions. You can provide these thoughts anonymously or give us your name if you want us to follow up with you. My office, along with the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Protected Disclosure (ODEPD), will work on the input. Your feedback will also be provided to Dr. Smith when she arrives to ensure that it contributes to the overall action plan she will help us develop to address anti-Black and other forms of racism.

This is a big conversation and one that we must pledge to continue. There’s more for all of us to say and all of us to do.

Our university must be a place where everybody can contribute and maximize potential, no matter who they are or where they come from. I look forward to all of us working together to realize this goal.

Sincerely,

Ed McCauley
President and Vice-Chancellor