Feb 8, 2021

Taking Action on Anti-Racism: Update from the Chair and EDI Committee

Graphic illustration of differences between equality, equity, and liberation

Scott Heximer

Message from the Chair:

In my statement on racism published in the summer, I promised to provide updates on our plans and progress toward tackling systemic racism and inequity in academia. Black History Month strikes me as the right time to not only reflect, but to report on action.

While there is plenty of work ahead, I feel confident that we are taking steps in the right direction thanks to our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee comprised of graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, faculty, and staff. I thank this group for holding me accountable to my statement, and appreciate the discussions, research, and organizing that have factored into their advising thus far. Please find the Committee's updates below and, as always, reach out if you have questions or concerns. 

Graphic illustration of differences between equality, equity, and liberationUpdate from the EDI Committee:

The committee convened for the first time in December 2020 and has since defined several projects in service of the first goal outlined in Professor Heximer’s statement: Address systemic under-representation of Black and Indigenous faculty and learners in academia.

The projects include:

  • Create a clear Terms of Reference that outlines the Committee’s purpose and scope.
  • Research wise practices regarding the recruitment of Black and Indigenous faculty.
  • Research and advise on equitable faculty hiring procedures.
  • Collate and analyze data on the experience of racialized graduate students toward informing next steps.
  • Educate ourselves on the bigger EDI picture at the Faculty and Institutional levels.
  • Align our Departmental plan with the Temerty Faculty of Medicine’s EDI Action Plan.
  • Strategize around education and training for the Departmental Community.

We hope to work toward several informed, meaningful policies, procedures, and education initiatives with measurable outcomes by the end of this year. 

We believe that transparency and communication are key to cultural change, and look forward to providing further updates as plans translate into action.

Many thanks to our engaged committee members, especially the graduate students. This group also leads their own committee that collaborates closely with ours.

EDI Committee Members: (student representatives rotate to ensure broad representation)

Main Committee

Dr. Yasaman Aghazadeh
Professor Brian Cox (Co-Chair)
Professor Adria Giacca
Professor Helen Miliotis
Professor Jinrong Min
Paula Smellie (Co-Chair)
Julia Tausch
Two representives per meeting
from the Graduate Student Committee


Graduate Student Committee

Julia Bandura
Michael Dewar
Megan Drupals
Elizabeth Eng
Meredith Foley
Elisabeth Grande
Alicia Harracksingh
Shahin Khodaei
Nastasia Kujbid
Connor Mabbott
Neil Merovitch
Sungmo Park
Michal Syonov
Prashanth Velayudhan
Aylin Visram