Announcement of independent external review of Nov. 20 incident

Vari Hall
Vari Hall

The following is an announcement to the York University community from President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton:

Over the past few weeks we have provided our community with a number of updates regarding actions we are taking as a result of the troubling verbal and physical altercations that occurred on our Keele Campus on Nov. 20 during a student event and a related protest.

York University deeply values diversity and inclusion and is committed to promoting free speech in a safe and respectful environment. As a critical aspect of our overall work to advance these values, we are undertaking an independent external review. I am pleased to announce that the Honourable Thomas A. Cromwell C.C. has been engaged to conduct an independent review to make findings and recommendations with respect to the following:

  • the University’s role in relation to the planning for the event on Nov. 20;
  • the preparations and security arrangements for the event;
  • the University’s policies, procedures and practices governing provision of University space for student events;
  • the University’s policies governing freedom of speech on campus; and
  • York’s policies, procedures and practices relevant to the safety of all those who attend student events on campus.

Work will commence in early January 2020 and is expected to finish no later than March 30, 2020.

York is fortunate to have Mr. Cromwell conducting this review. Mr. Cromwell was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Canada in 2008 and retired from Canada’s highest Court on Sept. 21, 2016. He received law degrees from Queen’s and Oxford, practiced law in Kingston and Toronto and taught law at Dalhousie University. During his time at Dalhousie, he served as Chair of the Law Faculty Council and vice-chair of the University Senate.

He is currently a director of the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice and of Access Pro Bono British Columbia. In 2017, Mr. Cromwell was named a Companion of the Order of Canada for his “illustrious service as a Supreme Court justice, and for his leadership in improving access to justice for all Canadians.”

Mr. Cromwell will have the full support of the University as he undertakes this important review. When concluded, his recommendations will be shared with the York University community. This engagement, the latest among many actions in response to Nov. 20, demonstrates our commitment to protecting the safety and rights of students, faculty and staff and to ensuring that every member of our community has the full ability to express their views in a safe campus environment.

View the complete Terms of Reference for the Honourable Thomas Cromwell’s engagement.

For the latest information about our actions, please visit the President’s Initiative on Open & Respectful Dialogue.