As one of the most diverse universities in North America, we at York take pride in our foundational values of inclusion and respect. We have a deep and rich history of providing expertise and support to finding solutions to societal problems in the world around us. We are known for being one of the most progressive universities in the world, with a community where inquiry is nurtured and theories are tested, where differing opinions can be presented irrespective of their popularity. Indeed, as a large, comprehensive university, we play an important role in supporting broad inquiry and debate around important societal issues.
One of our key priorities – and indeed, one of my personal goals – is to ensure a welcoming campus environment for all students, faculty, staff, and alumni. I was reminded of the example that York sets in the area of inclusion when I came across a photo shared on Twitter by Glendon Campus Principal Donald Ipperciel in July. I was delighted to learn that Donald took part in Toronto’s annual Pride festivities with the student group GLgbt* (pictured in the photo above).
This kind of leadership is not uncommon for members of the University’s senior team or for our community groups. Our Vice-Provost, Students Janet Morrison has written about the value of diversity in the context of Pride, for example, and inclusion is one of the hallmarks of the Orientation Week organized by the Division of Students each fall.
With all of this in mind, and a new school year approaching, I thought this would be an opportune time to share some of the services and spaces available at York for our LGBTQ* communities. York has a number of excellent LGBTQ* and queer positive campus organizations committed to our guiding principles of accessibility, equity, diversity and inclusion. Here are two I’d like to highlight.
TBLGAY – Trans Bisexual Lesbian Gay Asexual at York is a student-run Community Service Group created by the York Federation of Students. With a substantial resource library, TBLGAY offers support, community referrals, and a safe and social drop-in space at 449A in the Student Centre. Also known for organizing events across campus, TBLGAY was present this summer at the Keele campus flag drop opening ceremony for Toronto Pride 2016.
GLgbt* – Glendon’s all-inclusive LGBTQ*-ally community group GLgbt* holds community-building social events, awareness campaigns, and trips throughout the school year, and also connects with other Toronto-based groups. In a blog post reflecting on his time as co-coordinator of GLgbt*, York alumnus Juan Luis Garrido notes the positive impact of LGBTQ* groups on campus, include their role in forming a sense of community, promoting awareness, and making positive change.
These organizations are doing important work to enhance student life on campus. With the same goal in mind, York recently launched a campaign to take action towards inclusion. This year, I encourage you to consider how you can contribute to an inclusive, safe and respectful campus environment for all.