DLSPH Open: Addressing Anti-​Black Racism

October 4/2018

Dear colleagues,

The DLSPH strives to create an inclusive environment for all students, staff and faculty and is working collaboratively to deeply engage with systemic issues of anti-Black racism and discrimination through consultations with faculty, student and alumni leaders.

With support from Professor Arjumand Siddiqi, we have initiated conversations with colleagues at U.S. institutions to better understand best practices in addressing anti-Black racism at the institutional level. In addition, we’ve had a series of meetings with representatives from the Black Public Health Students’ Collective to explore current issues and brainstorm how we can improve marginalized students’ experiences at the School.

The efforts of the Black Public Health Students’ Collective culminated on September 25, 2018 at their meet and greet event where more than 30 first-year students networked with faculty, alumni and second-year students to discuss their professional outlook, strategies for success, and advice on navigating the DLSPH.  My hope is that this event will be the first of many to engage Black students and ensure they are supported by a strong network of their peers.

This work is really important for three reasons. Diversity and multiculturalism are celebrated in Canada, but more work is needed to ensure diversity is reflected in our education and public health systems. Second, in the current political climate we wanted to provide an opportunity for students to talk about difficult issues related to racism, discrimination and the negative impact of populism. Finally, our students are future public health leaders who will be responsible for advocating for marginalized communities. We must give our students the tools to represent marginalized groups and find ways to work in solidarity with partners to push these issues forward.

We are committed to ensuring that this work is open and transparent and therefore will routinely provide updates and ongoing plans through our monthly newsletter and on our website. We will continue to address anti-Black racism and discrimination through the review of the curriculum, admissions process, recruitment of faculty and the implementation of tangible actions in these areas.

Over the next year, our administration will be working closely with Black faculty and students across U of T to:

  • Support faculty, staff and students to complete anti-oppressive and anti-racism training offered by the university;
  • Establish a complaints process around racism and discrimination for faculty, staff and students;
  • Fund new student groups organizing around shared identities and experiences of oppression;
  • Revise the admissions process to capture key demographic information and create a more equitable admissions process;
  • Capture and report key demographic information of faculty and staff; and
  • Work with students and faculty to create an equity action plan for the School.

I am grateful for the leadership provided by faculty, alumni and students involved in the Black Public Health Students’ Collective to help our community address anti-Black racism and discrimination. I encourage all members of the community, in particular students, to get involved with the Collective by joining their team, volunteering at future events and other social activities.

Anyone who is interested in joining the Black Public Health Students’ Collective or would like more information should contact: bphsc.dlsph@utoronto.ca.

I look forward to working with all students, staff and faculty to foster an environment that is respectful of all who study and work here.


Adalsteinn Brown
Dean and Professor
Dalla Lana School of Public Health