York’s president addresses the importance of respect for diversity of thought in the University

People walk through Vari Hall, which is located on York U's Keele campus

The following is a message to the York Community from President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton regarding respect for diversity of thought:

A corner stone of all we do at York University is respect for diversity, including diversity of thought. This respect for diversity of thought informs engaged learning environments where concepts are tested, challenged and critiqued. It informs our colleagues’ research that is internationally recognized for ushering in new theoretical paradigms and extending the boundaries of knowledge. It informs the robust and critical exchanges necessary for sound functioning of our councils, Senate and other collegial bodies.

At times our respect for diversity of thought can be tested, no more so than in the current context of a strike that has entered its eighth week. Differing perspectives on the strike — whose positions are more reasonable, whose are impeding a resolution, what is at stake in the outcome — can harden and create or exacerbate tensions.

It is at times such as these that the shared responsibility we all have to support and uphold respect for diversity of thought is especially important. Regardless of the passion with which a principle or idea is held, there is no place for abusive language, shouting down or bullying behaviour directed at those with a different point of view. There is no place for disruption of scheduled academic activities or other events, on or off campus.

Such behaviours silence, impede or create a chilling effect on the free and open exchange of ideas so central to our mission, and they will not be tolerated. Each of us is responsible and must be held accountable for maintaining norms of civility.

I encourage all members of the York community to uphold our values by embracing a diversity of views and respectful dialogue as fundamental parts of what makes us a great university.