York asks for student input to create more inclusive community

An advertisement for the Student Equity & Diversity Census

After extensive consultation with students and the York community, York University has introduced its first Student Equity and Diversity Census.

The desire for a self-identification survey came from many sources, including York students, to help optimize their educational experience and address systemic barriers. The 11-question census, to be delivered on an annual basis, will support the provision of targeted services, resources and supports designed specifically for equity-seeking student populations, and support the University to address and eliminate barriers to access, retention and completion. It will also provide baseline data to measure the University’s goals as outlined in the York University Academic Plan 2020-25.

An advertisement for the Student Equity & Diversity Census
Students are invited to participate in York’s first Student Equity and Diversity Census

York University is currently seeking to expand its knowledge about the diversity of its students. A review of data from existing surveys led to a review to understand how the University can increase representation of the entire student population and address inconsistences and varying data and demographic definitions.

As a result, a Student Census Working Group was created with participation from units across the University, student groups and student government to develop a census that will generate highly representative, consistent and regularly refreshed diversity data. This data will be collected and statistics reported within a framework that respects the privacy of students.

The Student Equity and Diversity Census, which involves all students, including undergraduate and graduate, runs from Sept. 21 to Oct. 29. It has questions about gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity and Indigeneity, disability status, religion, place of birth and level of education of parents – all to help York University know more about its student population. This information will help the University support success and reduce barriers to access for under-represented groups.

Diversity, equity and inclusion are articulated in York’s mission statement and are reflected in the Univesity’s core values.

“The more we know about our students, the better we can address and eliminate barriers to access, retention and completion, and build a strong sense of community and belonging,” said Lucy Fromowitz, vice-provost, students. “We have many programs to support equity-seeking populations, but we want to do more. This data will better inform our policies, practices, programs and services from an access and inclusion perspective.”

Students are encouraged to complete the census, though participation is completely voluntary. Upon completion of the census, students can choose to enter into a sweepstake for a chance to win a suite of prizes, including an iPad Pro, gift cards for Amazon and Uber Eats, and flex dollars on their YU-card.

The data collected will be kept strictly confidential. Any published Student Equity and Diversity Census results will be summarized into broad categories with personal identifying information removed to protect privacy.

For more information, visit the Student Equity and Diversity Census website or contact vpstudents@yorku.ca.