We are aware of the recent allegations made against OSTA-AECO. Unfortunately, these allegations are interconnected with a severe conduct issue unrelated to these allegations of racism; as a result, we are limited in our capacity to respond without creating further harm.
When concerns of discrimination were raised to the board of directors in May, we engaged a neutral third party to conduct an investigation into the allegations. While the investigation did not find that the alleged instances of discrimination occurred, we do recognize that systemic racism is deeply entrenched in our society. To suggest that OSTA-AECO is excluded from that would be grossly negligent and harmful. While inclusivity has always been an unspoken tenet foundational to the way OSTA-AECO operates, recent events around the world have demonstrated that now, more than ever, there is an onus on all organizations, including ours, to demonstrate our solidarity and disavowal for discrimination, violence, and hate in tangible ways. With reformed leadership, we are committed to doing this work.
We continue to work hard to create equitable and safe working environments for everyone who volunteers with OSTA-AECO. We have a responsibility to ensure that the internal operations at OSTA-AECO foster safe, welcoming spaces in which advocacy work can thrive. Creating cultures of inclusivity and diversity allow us all do to our best work. In organizations such as ours, inclusive culture is often set by the ‘tone at the top’. Over the last several months, we’ve introduced corporate governance explicitly enabling these kinds of cultures to grow. Last month, we put into effect the Respectful Workplace Policy and Respectful Workplace Procedure which outline the types of behaviour we deem incompatible with inclusive spaces. Yesterday, at the outset of our new academic year, we launched the Code of Conduct and Ethics for Employees, Volunteers, and Directors, which came into effect on August 1, 2020 and will act as a guiding framework for all of OSTA-AECO’s business, advocacy, and professional dealings and decisions. Furthermore, we are in the process of creating a robust framework to address both systemic racism within the organization, as well as ways to improve internal education for student trustees who interact with OSTA-AECO at our conferences and other events.
OSTA-AECO is a nonprofit organization comprised entirely of current and former student trustees who volunteer on a part-time basis to advocate for the improvement of public education in the province of Ontario.
For additional information, contact:
Chair, Board of Directors
We would like to be posting this on Twitter; unfortunately, our Twitter account was disabled a few weeks ago due to a fault with Twitter’s age verification system. We are working with Twitter to get our account reinstated.