A joint statement on York’s community values from the University leadership

The following joint statement on York’s community values was released yesterday by the University leadership:

As we consider the events of recent weeks and months, it is important for us to take stock and ask ourselves where we are headed as an academic community.

We live in an age of unparalleled access to information and in a country with one of the highest standards of living in human history. We live in a diverse and pluralistic society that many regard as the envy of the world. York University is a community renowned for its diversity and commitment to free inquiry and expression.

Yet some of the events that have happened here on the campus in recent months run the risk of alienating community members from each other, and of driving distance between individuals and communities that should be growing together.

We must always be vigilant to oppose intolerance in all of its various forms against people deemed to be of the ‘wrong’ colour, gender, sexual orientation, identity, background, politics, religion, nationality or disability.

It is easy for us to be tolerant of those who agree with us or who are most like us. Tolerance is a virtue precisely because we need it when it matters most – of those with whom we disagree, or of whom we may be distrustful, suspicious, or even afraid. This is the tradition that York has always espoused, and which we, the leadership of the University, reaffirm today.

A university is a place where we can lay aside fears and learn about other people, ideas and cultures in a spirit of free inquiry. In this regard, a university is an institution unlike any other. Yet a university is also a delicate mechanism – it requires a reciprocity of respect and tolerance to function properly, so that ideas can be expressed and shared freely. An idea is not wrong simply because we may disagree with it. Debates on controversial subjects in classrooms and forums ought to be conducted civilly without invective or hostility.

As we celebrate Multicultural Week, we call upon every member of the York community to live up to our historic commitment to social responsibility, equity and fairness in our dealings with each other. It is imperative not to let our own opinion – however sincerely held – be the tool with which we attempt to oppress, alienate or silence others.

There is much more to be done, but we should begin by reminding each other, and the external community, of the core values upon which York is built. Our common future depends upon our adherence to them.

President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri
Vice-President Academic Sheila Embleton
Vice-President Research & Innovation Stan Shapson
Vice-President Finance & Administration Gary Brewer
Vice-President Students Rob Tiffin
York University Foundation President Paul Marcus
Dean Paul Axelrod, Faculty of Education
Dean Nick Cercone, Faculty of Science & Engineering
Dean Robert Drummond, Faculty of Arts
Dean Dezsö Horváth, Schulich School of Business
Dean Rhonda Lenton, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies
Principal Kenneth McRoberts, Glendon
Dean Patrick Monahan, Osgoode Hall Law School
Dean Doug Peers, Faculty of Graduate Studies
Dean Barbara Rahder, Faculty of Environmental Studies
Dean Phillip Silver, Faculty of Fine Arts
Dean Harvey Skinner, Faculty of Health