U of C responds to letter, says addressing systemic racism requires ‘longitudinal journey’

U of C student associations hope that the school will follow through on plans to address systemic racism at the school

The University of Calgary. LIVEWIRE CALGARY FILE PHOTO

The University of Calgary said it take time to address and root out systemic racism in institutions, but they’re committed to doing it.

The Calgary post-secondary school responded to an open letter penned by groups earlier this month.

The open letter, drafted by the U of C Department of psychology’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee (EDI) and students on June 9, brought some concerns of intuitional racism to U of C’s attention.

The letter demanded the university acknowledge the existence of racism and create an action plan to combat it on campus.

In an online conference on June 24, Ed McCauley, President and Vice-Chancellor at U of C, said the university has heard student’s concerns and will work constantly to address it.

“We don’t condone anti-black racism but we know much, much more needs to be done,” he said.

In the university’s statement, they outlined the difficulties of institutional racism and their hopes of addressing it moving forward.

“The challenges relating to racism require much more than institutional statements and letters like this one,” the statement reads.

“Systemic racism requires a longitudinal journey of listening, learning, compassion, and commitment to change, followed by action.”

Notably, the university didn’t provide an action plan specifically stated in the student’s initial open letter.

U of C student body hopes time will tell in addressing the open letter

Camille Mori, a representative for U of C’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee, and one of the initial creators of the open letter, said the statement was a good start. Hopefully an action plan will follow it.

“Certainly we want an action plan and hopefully that action plan is coming,” she said.

Mori acknowledged that it takes time to create a plan to address racism. She hopes it will come soon.

“In terms of the timeline, you know, that’s tricky there’s a lot that goes into a timeline. I think the sooner, the better,” she said.

“But also, with enough time to make sure that these plans are thoughtful and actionable.”

Students’ Union Vice President External Marley Gillies said she hopes the university will follow through.

“I think going forward we’re looking to see a long term commitment from the university that this isn’t just a response, but that this is an ongoing assessment of all of our institutional functions across the board,” she said.

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