York makes progress on Security Services Review recommendations 

York students walking in Accolade Building on Keele Campus

In the year since the release of the Security Services Review report in April 2023, a suite of committees has been actively working to scope, plan for and implement recommendations across the University to make it a safer space for all. 

The review of York’s Security Services, conducted by an internal expert panel, outlined a set of recommendations to transition York to a community-centric model for safety services that is equitable, bias-free, transparent, collaborative, representative and organizationally aligned.  

One foundational recommendation brought forward in the report was a formal acknowledgement of racism in law enforcement. This month, the Community Safety Department released its formal acknowledgement – marking a clear and serious commitment to dismantle systemic racism. 

The formal acknowledgement was established after York’s leadership met with over 120 members of the Black community – including students, faculty and staff – and learned that many had negative experiences related to safety on campus, including lack of personal and emotional safety, daily experiences of racial harassment, exclusion, discrimination, lack of representation, lack of respect, and barriers to academic and career advancement. Going forward, York will foster continuous dialogue and activities aimed at addressing systemic racism within its safety services and security practices. 

Already, action has been taken to address the recommendation to review current call centre procedures and programming. The Call Taker and Dispatch job descriptions have been completed, and all relevant standard operating procedures have been amended, along with the addition of a DEDI statement to each. 

Another recommendation made in the report was to develop alternative approaches to address the presence of individuals experiencing homelessness on York University campuses. York is currently developing comprehensive security protocols to ensure the safety of all members of our community, including those experiencing homelessness. In addition, a working group has been established and a comprehensive draft plan has been created that includes both short- and long-term objectives.  

As mentioned in the plan, a short-term objective York has prioritized is collaborating with external partners who offer comprehensive support services. For example, the University is actively partnering with organizations like the Agincourt Services Association and the City of Toronto to provide tailored assistance and housing solutions for those experiencing homelessness within its community. Individuals experiencing homelessness who need immediate assistance are now provided with emergency kits and essential items, and have access to medical and mental health services through partnerships facilitated by the University.  

Looking forward, York’s long-term plan encompasses mental health and well-being initiatives, as well as implementation and evaluation strategies. The University is committed to collaborating with relevant departments and external agencies to identify long-term solutions and address the root causes of homelessness on University campuses. One of the recommendations from this working group is to explore the possibility of establishing a temporary shelter in collaboration with the City of Toronto to offer support during extreme weather conditions.  

To address the recommendation to align service structures, culture and employment with a community-centric safety model, York has been actively engaging equity-deserving groups and the broader York community to continue the conversation on what makes a “safe” campus. Last November, an advisory group was created, comprised of York University academics, staff and students with expertise in anti-Black racism. This past January, a town hall was held for the York community to receive updates about the implementation of the Security Services Review recommendations and share feedback and questions. During Community Safety Week in March, a panel discussion was held with community leaders and experts to learn more about adopting a community-centric approach to safety. In addition, an engagement plan has been developed to ensure services are responsive and reflective of community needs; for example, by hosting networking opportunities, focus groups, additional roundtable discussions and more.    

“Opportunities for collaboration and honest discourse are vital for the path ahead,” says Orville Wallace, executive director of community safety. “By prioritizing both immediate support and future planning, we’re dedicated to creating a safe and supportive environment for all members of our campus community.” 

To learn more about the Security Services Review, including other recommendations to be implemented, visit the Community Safety website