The fight for EDI doesn’t stop at campus gates
A rise in hate towards 2SLGBTQI+ communities reminds us that the fight for equity and inclusion in all its forms must be a continued, collaborative effort
I’d originally planned to write about the national security crisis and its impact on higher education. It’s a serious concern deserving academics’ attention. To that end, we’ve included two security-related stories in this issue: a feature about the ongoing work between national security agencies and university administrators, and a news report on why universities are discouraging TikTok use.
But as I write this in early June, the start of Pride month in Canada, I’m preoccupied by an alarming rise in hate towards 2SLGBTQI+ communities. A campaign to roll back hard-won rights to bodily autonomy and equitable treatment under the law is underway in the U.S., and we’re seeing evidence of it here too. Just this week I heard from a faculty member at the University of Fraser Valley whose lab had its Pride display vandalized four times this year. And as school board meetings increasingly become lightning rods for transphobic and homophobic protests, Brandon University took a stand against a proposed ban on queer books in its local school district, inspiring a counter-protest this past May.
“When you’re talking about banning books, it’s pretty clear that you’re withholding knowledge from people – and universities don’t do that,” Brandon U president David Docherty told University Affairs in a story we recently published on our website. “If students aren’t sure about their identity and are questioning it, they’re not going to be judged when they come to Brandon – they’re going to be welcomed, and that’s an important message for universities to share.” Canadian universities are investing more than ever in equity, diversity and inclusion. But just as hateful campaigns don’t stop at national borders, universities’ EDI commitments shouldn’t stop at campus gates.
Our feature profile of Maydianne Andrade reinforces this message. The ecologist has dedicated much of her career to EDI in Canadian universities. A tireless advocate in the fight against systemic racism and misogyny, she has worked for change at her own institution, the University of Toronto Scarborough, but also at the national level, most recently as a co-founder and president of the Canadian Black Scientists Network. Her story shows that meaningful progress requires a vision that extends beyond academia, sustained effort and long-term planning by a committed network of supporters and allies. Without these, we risk what we’ve gained.