U of M Anti-Racism Task Force releases interim report

Report makes several recommendations to address racism on campus

Image provided by Naomi Andrew

The University of Manitoba’s Anti-Racism Task Force released its interim report at the start of this month. The report contains several recommendations to help the university address racism on campus.

The task force, made up of racialized faculty, staff and students, was created by the U of M last February to help combat racism in the campus community by creating a list of recommendations for the university to implement.

Vice-president (administration) Naomi Andrew is one of the co chairs of the task force.

She explained that the group makes recommendations to the university based on consultations and the lived experience of its members. She hopes that these recommendations will act as the foundation for university policy going forward.

One of the report’s recommendations is for the university to develop an overarching anti-racism policy.

Andrew noted that while the university has many policies regarding different issues such as sexual violence and maintaining a respectful work and learning environment, the task force highlighted the need for a policy concerning anti-racism.

She said that she hopes the task force can help to create a campus environment where students, staff and faculty can thrive, feel safe and belong.

“We’re really looking at what needs to be in place to create that kind of environment for everyone,” Andrew said.

Some of the report’s other recommendations include reviewing U of M board of governors and senate policies via racial equity impact assessments with an intersectional lens, educating decision makers on how to apply an anti-racism framework to their decision-making processes and gathering and distributing more data on demographics in order to close gaps in diversity.

The report also recommends that the university establish a plan to communicate anti- racist messaging, beginning by creating a website to spread awareness about racism in the university community and how to address it, a step the university completed with the creation of the UM anti-racism webpage at the start of Feburary.

Andrew explained that University of Manitoba president Michael Benarroch created the task force to include people from different U of M campuses, communities and offices who can examine ongoing issues and co-ordinate a response.

U of M executive lead (equity, diversity, and inclusion) and distinguished professor in the department of history Tina Chen said that the task force and the report are intended to “lay the foundations for action” and establish a framework for accountability.

“The anti-racism task force brought together people from across the university community with a very similar mindset and a commitment to that action,” Chen said.

Chen hopes that the university develops an anti-racism strategy that can become one aspect of a broader anti-oppression strategy in the future.

The Anti-Racism Task Force will deliver its final report containing recommendations for an anti-racism strategy in the spring of this year.