Following Principal Daniel Woolf’s announcement to withdraw from his campaign to be reappointed for a third term as Principal, the Nov. 28 Senate meeting saw updates from several working groups and task forces.
Undergraduate Orientation Review Working Group consultation
Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion) Teri Shearer provided Senate with an update on the consultations being done by the Undergraduate Orientation Review Working Group (UORWG).
Created in August of this year, UORWG aims to discover ways of making undergraduate Orientation Week more welcoming and inclusive for all members of the Queen’s community. The group has spent the past three months conducting public and private consultations with stakeholders to produce comprehensive recommendations to the University by March 2018.
Shearer asked members of Senate to offer their own suggestions on how to improve Orientation Week activities. Senator Laeeque Daneshmend asked for all recommendations put forth by the Prinicipal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity and Inclusion (PICRDI) related to Orientation Week be implemented.
Senator Jacqueline Davies agreed with Daneshmend and said she was “gutted” to hear that PICRDI Orientation Week recommendations weren’t automatically being adopted.
“This is exhausting to even imagine that after six-plus reports over the years and countless testimonies about racism, harassment, and town-gown issues that we have to [report] again to have an effect,” Davies said.
Shearer thanked senators for their suggestions related to PICRDI but didn’t offer further response to them.
Provost Benoit-Antoine Bacon began his report by announcing the upcoming retirement of University Advisor on Equity and Human Rights Irène Bujara. For the past 25 years, Bujara has worked in the University’s Equity Office and has always been committed to ensuring that “each and every member of the Queen’s community feels a sense of inclusion and belonging,” Bacon said.
Bujara received a standing ovation from Senate thanking her for her successful career and Bacon said he’s committed to ensuring the continuation of her work in the Equity Office.
Bacon also provided a report on the Innovation and Wellness Centre construction. According to him, the building is scheduled to be fully enclosed by the end of December, when internal construction will begin.
Bacon submitted the 2017-18 Fall Enrollment Report to Senate, which showed significant increases in nearly all areas of application and enrollment.
According to enrollment numbers, there are now 2,946 undergraduate and graduate international students at Queen’s. With this number 18 per cent higher than 2016-17, the international student population now accounts for 11.3 per cent of total enrolment.
Graphics by Rebecca Frost
Shearer also provided an update on the consultations and ongoing work of PICRDI. One area of focus she identified was “communicating updates to the broader community,” as she recently learned many students and staff felt unaware of the work being done by the committee.
The written report provided a number of updates, including the creation of the University Council on Anti-Racism and Equity, the establishment of a Diversity and Inclusivity Coordinator within Student Affairs and ongoing planning for the creation of an Alfie Pearce Centre for Racial Equity and Social Justice.
The Alfie Pearce Centre was a recommendation included in PICRDI’s final report to provide a safe designated space for minority students and groups on campus.
Another update included in the report was the ongoing development of equitable practices related to staff and faculty recruitment. When asked by Senator Daneshmend, Shearer noted they hope to have clear practices in place by the end of 2019.
However, Daneshmend recalled a similar promise was made to execute these practices by the end of 2015, indicating a “growing concern with a slow pace of movement” in the implementation of equity recommendations.
Daneshmend also asked about the status of the PICRDI recommendation to hire a new Assistant Vice-Provost (Equity and Inclusion). According to Bacon, the tentative deadline for creating and filling this position is still for the 2018-19 academic year, but they will be careful to take their time with it.
“We want to make sure we can make the appointment we need, not the appointment we’re rushed to make,” Bacon said.
According to Shearer, efforts to revise workplace harassment policies are also in the works, but are proving “quite remarkably complex despite the fact that [they] know where [they] want to go with it.”
Shearer also announced she has scheduled to meet with the University Rector, the AMS Commissioner of Social Issues and representatives from equity-seeking campus groups to discuss the creation of the proposed Alfie Pearce Centre for Racial Equity and Social Justice. Shearer said they hope to have a concrete plan for development by April.
All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.