Dear Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education members,
We hope that this finds you and those in your care all keeping well. On March 23, 2021, the CSSHE Board of Directors and CSSHE 2021 Conference Committee held a joint meeting to discuss the Black Canadian Studies Association’s (BCSA) decision to withdraw from Congress 2020 and 2021 (https://twitter.com/BlkCdnSA/status/1359136941346816006?s=20).
We understand, respect, and support the decision of the BCSA to withdraw from Congress again this year. (Last year, the BCSA withdrew from Congress in protest against the structural racism of the response to the 2019 incident and the inequities that a virtual conference would present.) We also respectfully acknowledge and are grateful for the work of those individuals and societies who have decided to withdraw in solidarity.
In light of these developments and discussions, the CSSHE Board of Directors has chosen to continue engaging with Congress in order to contribute to change and hold our profession and societies accountable as an expression of our shared commitments and values. CSSHE will continue to critically reflect, and to action our values, to create a more just society. We respect the views shared and wish to highlight just a couple of our Society’s most recent commitments as follows:
- In 2020, the CSSHE strategic plan committed to “[C]onscientious attention to accessibility, diversity and anti-discriminatory practices” and we are dedicated to upholding these values — in principle, practice, and through our policies. We remain committed to providing opportunities for respectful, safe, accessible and equitable dialogues, research, scholarship, and exchange of practices.
- We hosted a related webinar, “A Call to Action: What Are We Doing to Eliminate Colonialism and Racism in the Academy? A focus on hiring and in-classroom policies and best practices.”
We recognize that the intersection of structural racism and the pandemic, both in the effects on health as well as economic security, has disproportionately affected communities with large proportions of racialized people, as well as those who are economically disadvantaged. This year, the CSSHE Board of Directors, working through its committees:
- Advocated for Congress to broaden the reduction of fees to include racialized people in addition to Black and Indigenous, noting that structural racism impacts those not covered under the current Congress fee reductions.
- Advocated for Congress to broaden the reduction of fees to include racialized Faculty members in addition to Students and Community Members, noting that structural racism persists at all levels of the academy, as demonstrated in Malinda Smith’s research on faculty representation at all ranks.
- Voted to reduce the fees for CSSHE’s registration for all members to $50, and to $0 for those with financial need. By removing financial barriers to access, the Board hopes this supports greater equity and inclusion.
- Offers two CSSHE Conference Flagship sessions focusing on these issues, “Confronting Privilege in Internationalization of Higher Education during COVID-19: What have we learned?” and “Enabling Indigenous Scholarship in Canadian Higher Education”
- Offers a Presidential Panel that focuses on how post-secondary students can help design and enact new solutions to our current social and environmental crises and be a part of the rebuilding of a more just society for all in “Experiential Learning and the Future of the Social Non-Profit Sector”.
- Signed the Charter on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Decolonization in the Social Sciences and Humanities.
We hope to continue this work and invite you to join us at our AGM and Awards Ceremony (Tuesday June 1, 2021, 10.45am-12.00pm Mountain Daylight Time), where we will take some time to reflect on the role that higher education has played in reinforcing systemic racism and how we can continue to address this in our profession and scholarship. In advance of that discussion, we invite you to read the Congress Advisory Committee on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Decolonization (AC-EDID) Report and Recommendations, Igniting Change and to sign the Charter on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Decolonization in the Social Sciences and Humanities.
For those who are unable to attend or would prefer to share their ideas, questions, or critiques through other means, we invite you to email, video chat, or set up a time to talk by phone.
CSSHE Board of Directors