February 5, 2021
Following completion of its progress through College governance, the Final Report of the Trinity College Task Force on Anti-Black Racism is being shared with members of the Trinity community.
Last June, Provost Mayo Moran announced the creation of a Task Force among other measures to address anti-Black racism and inclusion at the College following concerns raised by members of the Trinity community after the murder of George Floyd.
The Trinity College Task Force on Anti-Black Racism and Inclusion was co-chaired by Ramata Tarawally, Associate Director, Community Wellness, and Assistant Provost Jonathan Steels, and was comprised of 22 members, including students, alumni and faculty from both our Arts & Science and Divinity programs, as well as staff, fellows and members of the College’s governance bodies. The Task Force had strong representation of those affected by anti-Black racism and all forms of discrimination and exclusion. With the mandate to make recommendations to the Provost aimed at identifying, addressing and eliminating anti-Black racism and all forms of discrimination and enhancing the inclusiveness of the College, the Task Force met throughout the fall term to focus on issues that were identified in community feedback and the consultations held over past months.
After the Final Report of the Task Force was submitted to Provost Moran, the Co-Chairs presented the report to the Trinity College Board of Trustees and Senate on January 28 and February 1, 2021, respectively. “The Task Force’s recommendations articulate the actions needed to ensure that the College is an inclusive place for everyone. Racism and discrimination have no place at Trinity College and as alumni, we have a special obligation to ensure that the College is welcoming for every one of our talented students,” said Andrew McFarlane, Chair of the Trinity College Board of Trustees.
Mr. McFarlane and Professor Hilary Cunningham Scharper, Chair of Senate, each moved a motion of endorsement at their respective meetings, expressing gratitude to the Task Force, commending the work that it undertook, and looking forward to supporting the implementation of the Task Force recommendations.
The work of the Task Force particularly focused on the experiences of Black and BIPOC members of the Trinity community and conducted student focus groups as part of its work. “It was critical that our conversations and recommendations confront anti-Black racism alongside racism and discrimination in all forms. The Task Force report discussed a number of areas where practices, behaviours and traditions needed to be rethought. By removing systemic barriers and exclusionary practices, we will improve the experience for all students and for the broader Trinity community,” said Task Force Co-Chair Ramata Tarawally.
In its comprehensive work, the Task Force noted that some of the recommendations can be implemented quickly, while others require cultural or broader, system-level change. “This is our call-to-action to ensure long-lasting change to address anti-Black and additional forms of systemic racism and exclusion – and it will require commitment from across the entire College community,” said Task Force Co-Chair Jonathan Steels. “We look forward to the positive changes that will result for the student experience and for Trinity as a whole.”
The Final Report (PDF 461 KB) includes the Task Force’s mandate and process, a summary of findings and themes, and 44 recommendations to combat anti-Black racism and all forms of discrimination and to enhance the inclusiveness of Trinity College. The recommendations are organized under five sections:
“As a Task Force, we call for commitment to the values of equity, diversity and inclusion, as individual members of the community, as affiliated groups of the College, and as an organization. Our recommendations include ensuring mechanisms to diversify all our constituent groups, reviewing and updating policies and practices, and providing ongoing education and training,” Ms. Tarawally said. “It was important to the Task Force that the recommendations have impact and make constructive change to address the structural components that exclude people and to eliminate the barriers – including social, physical, economic and academic – to full participation in college life.”
Trinity alumna Louise James joined the Task Force to help Trinity College become a more inclusive community. “I firmly believe that making the College more accessible and welcoming to Black, Indigenous and other people of colour will make us stronger,” she said.
“Being a member of the Task Force has been an extremely meaningful experience. It brought out many challenging conversations and has allowed me to voice my concerns about the discrimination that BIPOC students have faced at Trinity,” said Task Force student member Mailey Jean Michel. “I am hopeful that these recommendations will allow us to create a more inclusive and accepting environment at Trinity College for the future generation of BIPOC students.”
At the request of the Task Force, the College has hired an independent expert to undertake work on best practices for student government. “As the issues around student governance featured prominently in our Task Force discussions, we requested support to conduct an environmental scan of the complicated student governance structure at the College and to set out best practices. We want to find out what is working and what the challenges are, so that moving forward, we can better support students and the student governance process to empower all student voices,” Dr. Steels said, noting that this first phase is expected to take most of the winter term and will engage students and student groups in the process.
Provost Moran noted that Trinity has a long tradition of attracting outstanding Black and BIPOC students as far back as our very early days when Dr. Alexander Augusta came to study medicine at Trinity after being rejected by American universities, and went on to use his skills to fight for civil rights in his homeland. “As we mark Black History Month, it is important to recognize that the accomplishments of our Black students were often achieved in spite of the many barriers to full inclusion. The work of the Task Force makes it clear that many of those barriers remain for Black and BIPOC students. As an educational institution, it is critical for Trinity to ensure that everyone is welcomed as a full member and that no one is subject to racism or discrimination. The work of the Task Force on Anti-Black Racism and Inclusion is a major milestone that will help us ensure that Trinity is a place where every member flourishes and reaches their true potential,” Provost Moran said.
“I am grateful for the work of the Task Force and eager to implement the recommendations as quickly as possible. An implementation plan is well underway and I look forward to sharing updates with the Trinity community as we take action on this important issue,” Provost Moran added. “On behalf of the College, I’d like to thank all members of the Task Force for their time and commitment. Their work provides a path forward and will result in meaningful, positive change for the Trinity community. This is a ‘whole college’ effort and we must all be committed to making the change necessary to ensure that Trinity is a place where everyone can flourish.”
The College has already been broadly engaged in taking steps to address anti-Black racism and inclusion in a number of areas. It has undertaken a comprehensive training program for staff and faculty, and has reworked its processes for admissions and student support, created a special BIPOC bursary and dedicated mentoring program, a BIPOC writing circle and dedicated reading collections. A working group of Trinity faculty is also in the process of examining how to strengthen the inclusiveness of Trinity College’s academic programs, among other actions.
Members of the Trinity community can view the Final Report of the Task Force here (PDF 461 KB). As the implementation process unfolds, updates will be posted here on this webpage.