On February 25, CBC aired an episode of The Fifth Estate, titled “Black on Campus”. The episode focused on the issue of anti-Black racism on university campuses and profiled three cases of anti-Black racism faced by a Black student, staff member and faculty member respectively at Windsor, Ryerson and York.
This was the first time that a high-profile documentary was made on this issue and the experiences of Black faculty, students and staff were highlighted in mainstream media. Over the last few months, the faculty member profiled in the documentary, Dr. Aime Avolonto, has made his story and allegations of anti-Black racism against York University public.
The York University Faculty Association (YUFA) has recently released a statement that condemns anti-Black racism. In particular, YUFA expressed serious concerns about the racist dynamics that have underpinned the Employer’s response to Dr. Avolonto’s complaints of anti-Black racism. The response from other Black members of the York community and beyond confirm that the response from this employer is not an isolated incident and anti-Black racism is rampant in higher education. OCUFA supports YUFA’s statement and shares their concerns about anti-Black racism at York University, the University’s lack of adherence to due process in addressing Dr. Avolonto’s allegations and the unreasonable and hasty efforts to terminate of the professor while he has four complaints related to this matter at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO).
OCUFA shares YUFA’s view that the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario is the right and proper space for adjudicating Dr. Avolonto’s case given how problematically York University has handled his case. OCUFA joins YUFA in calling on York University to take no further action in this case until an HRTO ruling is reached.
OCUFA is committed to combatting anti-Black racism on and off campus, and we stand with Black faculty, staff and students who are leading this important struggle. OCUFA also acknowledges the initiative of Black faculty members across Canada and internationally who have issued an open letter to the York University administration regarding its handling of Dr. Avolonto’s complaints of anti-Black racism.
We encourage OCUFA members to learn more about Dr. Avolonto’s case and to continue to stand up against racism and discrimination in all its forms. We have provided some resources on Dr. Avolonto’s case below. We encourage you to sign the petition below in support of Dr. Avolonto which OCUFA has already signed and send letters to the York University senior leadership.
Open letter by black community members: https://bit.ly/3m4VQc3
Letter from professor Avolonto: https://www.teachingwhileblack.ca/post/letter-from-a-black-colleague
Justice4Avolonto website: https://www.justice4avolonto.ca/