Concordia Task Force on Anti-Black Racism releases first report

The President’s Task Force has published its preliminary recommendations for ending anti-Black racism within the university.

First commissioned in 2020, the President’s Task Force on Anti-Black Racism has published its first report of preliminary recommendations. It includes a panoply of findings surrounding anti-Blackness at Concordia, as well as a dozen recommendations for the institution itself and for stakeholders, specifically Black students and faculty.

The report’s findings

The first section of the report is dedicated to the specific findings unearthed by the Task Force in the past year. Initially, it was challenging to determine the total number of Black students and faculty at Concordia. There has been a lack of infrastructure to uncover statistics and data on this issue. Looking into hiring discrepancies, the report revealed that there were very few Black faculty members, and that there was an issue in the turnover rate, however no numbers were shared in the report. The report also found gaps in curriculum and anti-racism training, and  that there is a lack of funding towards projects by and for Black Concordians. Several other pertinent findings were identified as well.

Institution-based recommendations

In the second section of the report, the commission broke down its six primary recommendations on the institutional level: this means anti-racist policies that would be integrated directly into the university. The first of these recommendations is to involve the Office of the Vice-Provost,  Faculty Development and Inclusion, the Equity Office, and the Office of Institutional Planning and Analysis, among others, in the process of accurate data collection. The second is to hire more Black faculty members so that Concordia’s population would be better represented in its faculty — this would also mean finding ways to diminish turnover. The third recommendation concerns the creation of anti-Black racism training and workshops for both students and staff, which would become mandatory. The next recommendation is the creation of certificates and minors in Black history, Black Canadian studies, and African diaspora studies. The last two institution-based recommendations are about making resources on Black perspectives permanent at the university and widening library resources by Black authors and scholars. By ingraining pro-Black policies into the system at Concordia, the commission believes the university could see more racial equality.

Stakeholder-based recommendations

The third section of the report contains six more recommendations to fight anti-Blackness. Where these differ from the last six is that they are directly and explicitly focused on the primary stakeholders in this issue: Black students and faculty members. The first recommendation is to implement changes within campus security, which would prioritize de-escalation. The second is the development of mental health services specifically tailored for Black students. The third and fourth recommendations are the creation of a permanent centre for Black Concordians and the implementation of culturally specific mentorship programs respectively. The fifth is the development of a concrete plan for increasing financial support for Black students, both local and international, as well as for the development of Black studies courses and programs. The final recommendation made by the committee is to “provide public recognition of the presence and contributions of Black Concordians over the course of Concordia’s history.” This would be done via the implementation of permanent monuments to the university’s long-standing Black history.

The Task Force has spent the past year developing solutions by speaking with Black student groups and faculty members. The full report will be made available by the summer of 2022. Near the end of the report, Task Force members explained why the implementation of these recommendations is so crucial.

“Ongoing exchanges with all university stakeholders must continue to facilitate implementation, provide a structure for long-term ally support and offer a clear framework for Black excellence among faculty, staff and students, allowing them to be fully invested in their futures at Concordia.”


Photograph by Catherine Reynolds 


Editorial: An open letter to Graham Carr

Dear Graham Carr,

It has been almost two months since you’ve been appointed Concordia’s newest president. In the statement released on the Concordia website on Jan. 16, you expressed your excitement about building off of this “great momentum we’ve created in the last several years.”

While this sounds great, it is also a little bit brief.

We at The Concordian would like to make a few suggestions regarding what needs to be addressed at our wonderful school: 


Sustainability: While there have been some improvements, we can’t help but notice a lack of awareness when it comes to sustainability on campus. Some people remain unaware of sustainability groups, like CUCCR (Concordia University’s Centre for Creative Reuse), and compost bins are scarce—-the CJ Building at Loyola only has one. We reported back in October that half of what the university sends to landfills could be composted, according to student groups. Becoming completely zero-waste isn’t going to happen overnight, but providing a clear plan will give the Concordia community an opportunity to track the university’s progress.

Transit: Yes, the university already had a conference concerning the shuttle bus, and we are pressing the matter again. While efficient, the shuttle bus can be unreliable at times. Universities across Canada include a transit pass as part of their tuition. Why not Concordia? As an institution with a large contingent of students reliant on public transit, it’s clear that the demand is there. This would also serve as an incentive for students who drive to campus to start using public transit instead.

Food: Concordia’s five-year agreement with Aramark comes to an end in May this year. For years, students have pushed for more independent and student-run food providers. Aramark’s reputation is also less than stellar. So let’s be realistic, feeding hundreds of students at both residences and the thousands across both campuses is extremely difficult and requires a large workforce. But what the university can do is commit to signing shorter contracts with large corporations, and begin transitioning towards independent and student-run groups becoming the main food providers on campus. It’s not an issue that can be solved immediately, but this is the type of legacy move that only benefits the Concordia community.

Online Opt-Out Consultations: It should come as no surprise that we at The Concordian are against online opt-outs for fee-levy groups. When opt-outs are done in person, Concordia’s groups, from gender advocacy groups (The Centre for Gender Advocacy) to food services (People’s Potato, The Hive), to student media (CJLO, The Link, The Concordian) have a chance to educate students about the services they offer. Following the recent vote to move to online op-outs, all that we ask is to be included in meaningful discussions about the implementation of this system. Will the website include a list of services offered by each group? Will it properly inform people of the role the groups play on campus, and how they can get involved? Or will it simply have a list of services to opt out of?

As our president, these are some of the issues that we ask you to consider as you plan what to tackle here on campus for the duration of your tenure at Concordia. 



The Concordian.



Feature photo by Alex Hutchins


The President’s back-to-school get together

Newly appointed Concordia President and Vice-Chancellor Graham Carr met with students on Jan. 8 at the SP Atrium on the Loyola Campus. It was Carr’s first official event, as his five year mandate began on Dec. 12, 2019.

‘’I think it’s a great way for the whole community, students, faculty and staff to get an opportunity to get together at the beginning of the semester, before the semester gets too stressful,’’ said Carr. “To say ‘welcome back,’ and wish the best and success for the year ahead.’’

Carr revealed that he plans on continuing initiatives that have already been implemented at the university, such as Indigenous relations, sustainability and growing research.

As students, faculty and staff gathered, doctorate biology student Safa Sanami remarked that the event ditched plastic entirely. All the food was served on washable platters, no cutlery was used, drinks were distributed in large jugs and attendees were invited to bring their own cups.

The university has put these new initiatives into effect to improve its recycling, all while promoting ways for students to have fun, while highlighting that no act is insignificant to help the planet.

According to biology graduate student James Perry, cutting back on single-use and consumable products is essential.

‘’I like the idea that these plates and drinking glasses are compostable and recyclable, as opposed to mass-produced items that are not often made of recyclable materials,” he said. “Although, there isn’t an advanced and efficient upcycling or recycling system in place, I feel that we are improving and are more conscious than a year ago.”

It seems that Concordia University will be looking for more ways to evolve during this new era, as Carr also mentioned that he plans on doing more complementary things to improve Concordia’s teaching agenda and offering a panoply of opportunities to its student body.


Photos by Britany Clarke


New year, new president: 10 minutes with Graham Carr

Following Alan Shepard’s seven-year mandate, Graham Carr is stepping in as new Interim President at quite a euphoric and challenging time for the university.

Concordia recently took a significant jump among the 2,000 worldwide universities ranked by the annual Center for World University Rankings; the largest surge in any Canadian university in the past year. As social movements are calling for educational reform and a change in power dynamics, seizing the momentum will be one of Carr’s greatest challenges. So, what’s next?

Graham Carr

Carr: I have been in a leadership position at Concordia for quite a number of years. I think I have been part of a lot of decision making since 2006.  We have incredible momentum at the moment and we want to seize that momentum, continuing in our strategic direction. But always asking what can we do more? What can we do next? There is a terrific opportunity for us in terms of increasing our visibility of the university – nationally and internationally. How can we continue to improve the student experience at the university and increase our research impact for Quebec and Canadian society? Those are all priorities for us; the appetite to grow, the thirst for knowledge and curiosity about what’s different, those are pretty good drivers for education. You can’t stand still if you’re always thinking of the next generation. We need to always be in that mode of constantly refreshing our reflection about who we are and where we want to go.

Such mentality undeniably helped Concordia’s worldwide reputation, but how can you explain its latest jump in the rankings? 

Carr: We have made a conscious effort in Quebec to be better known, to recruit the majority of our students. More than 70 per cent of our students come from Quebec. We are bringing about 25 per cent francophones into the university now, as well as our international students mix. I think that is also a way of communicating to a wider world, who we are and what we can do.

A student’s experience is something quite personal. Every voice is different. In a university which holds more than 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students, how do you balance the interests of every student? 

Carr: That is a challenge! Part of the issue is to realize that in a large comprehensive university like Concordia, people’s needs are different. What might work in business school, doesn’t work in the science labs. The needs of students for apprenticeship opportunities in aerospace engineering, for instance, are different than a student who wants a global experience, like the chance to study another language, another culture in another part of the world. So, the starting point for trying to be successful is to understand what the different needs in the university are, and to realize that with the resources you have are not infinite – how you can use [those resources] in a way that has a big impact for as many students as possible.

When you look back on your own student years and the impact that education and different experiences had on you, what do you wish to bring upon Concordia?

Carr: I think if you want to be successful in higher education, whether you are a student or staff or administrator, it’s because, fundamentally, you want to learn. The university has changed a lot since I have been here. It has gone from strength to strength. I think it’s just really an opportunity for everybody’s growth; growth in terms of your curiosity, your network. If you are a student, you have the opportunity to grow and discover areas that you are interested in; to meet new people, to build your network. Equally, I would like to believe that for the staff’s faculty, for university administrators, it’s also all about growth. It’s all about looking for ways to improve and do things differently -– being curious about what makes a next-generation university. Those are the things that I find excited about the job. I’m, frankly, learning new things every day. I meet people that I wouldn’t otherwise meet. For example, when I was in the research sector of the university, I got the chance to learn a lot about fields of knowledge and expertise that I didn’t know.

It’s true that it’s usually once you have graduated that you realize how many opportunities were presented to you through the university…

Carr: Yes! It’s about the best opportunity. As a student – and I don’t want this to be misunderstood – you have the luxury of time. You have time to explore, to experiment. And I’m sure many students have started down one pathway and realized “that’s really not for me, here’s a different path that I didn’t know about and that looks very exciting.” 

Your own path led you to this presidency. The very nature of being a positive leader is in itself fascinating, but as we are running out of time, what would be a must-quality?

Carr: Top quality for leaders? Can it be two? I think one is the ability to listen. Then, the other is the ability to foster success in people and encourage them to do their best and get the best out of them. Short and sweet. That would be it!


Presidential remarks: April

Photo by writer.

“I think the Concordia community itself wants to have the conversation about what makes Concordia special and what defines us,” said Concordia President Alan Shepard. “So what I’m hoping for next year is that we’ll have a strategic planning process. I’m hoping that much of the next academic year will be a series of organized reflections and conversations about ‘where is Concordia going’?”

Nearing the end of Shepard’s first year at Concordia, there is a lot for him to reflect on.

“It’s really important to know what’s going on and sitting in this office, you can get into a bubble. You can spend all day long having meetings and still not get the pulse,” said Shepard. “What’s the community feeling, thinking? How’s it doing? What’s its morale?”

Coming to Concordia as an outsider, Shepard had a lot to learn about the community and said he had his work cut out for him.

“It’s been extremely important coming from outside of Quebec, and outside of Concordia, to build relationships and I’ve devoted a lot of time to getting to know people. You can’t start proposing changes and doing stuff until you get the lay of the land,” he explained.

In his efforts to learn more about the Concordia community, Shepard discovered that “there is a hunger amongst Concordians for ‘how do we define ourselves and what makes us special and different’?”

While he doesn’t have a response to that question just yet, it certainly piqued his interest.

“One thing I have been preoccupied with this year and will continue to be preoccupied by probably for the whole time I’m here as president is Concordia’s reputation. To close the gap about what I know to be true about the high quality of the place and how we’re perceived, not only by others but by ourselves,” he said.

Shepard described his biggest challenge coming into the university as one of integration. Being “the new guy” is never easy and forming strong relationships and “building trust” was a major priority for him throughout the year.

Shepard isn’t quick to parade his accomplishments but he does feel positively about his experience at Concordia thus far.

“From where I sit, I think it’s been a successful year so far,” he said. “A lot of this job is an intuitive thing. [Numbers] are one set of gauges on the dashboard but there’s another which is this emotional intelligence meter, and I’m paying a lot of attention to that too.”

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