Nythalah Baker has officially begun her new position as UTM’s equity and diversity officer. This is the first time this role has existed on the campus.
“I will be hearing concerns, making referrals, and serving as a resource for staff, faculty, and students about human rights and equity,” said Baker in a phone interview. She will also help organize and participate in workshops on diversity, inclusion, and human rights.
Prior to this appointment, UTM made use of the equity and diversity officer at the St. George campus. While helpful, this arrangement was not ideal, said Yasmine Youssef, VP equity of UTMSU.
“There were no offices on the UTM campuses, making it difficult and inaccessible for students who might urgently need [the officer’s assistance],” said Youssef in an email interview. “In addition, UTM is significantly different from other U of T campuses in its demographic, students, equity understanding, and activities.
Baker will not only be more readily available, but also more in touch with the campus’s unique makeup and needs.
This comes as a great boon to UTM’s many diversity organizations, such as OUT@UTM, one of the groups that advocated for the campus to get its own officer.
Baker has begun meetings with staff, student groups, UTMSU, and residence executives to get a personal understanding of what needs to be done.
“Although many people have a vague understanding of what equity is, there needs to be more awareness [of] how to implement it in their daily lives, how not to be oppressive unintentionally, and how to be an agent of positive change,” said Youssef.
Baker previously served as the senior advisor of education and communications at York University, and before that as the equity advisor at the University of British Columbia. In both positions she worked to improve equity at the schools and raise awareness of human rights. She brings a combined 15 years of experience to her position at UTM.
“I look forward to working with everyone,” Baker said. “Anyone is welcome to come speak with me.”