Henry report revisited

SGPS president asks University to move forward with recommendations

Society of Graduate and Professional Students President Jeff Welsh says he wants to see a response and a plan of action from the University regarding the Henry Report.
Society of Graduate and Professional Students President Jeff Welsh says he wants to see a response and a plan of action from the University regarding the Henry Report.

Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) President Jeff Welsh is asking the University Senate to take a step forward on recommendations made in the Henry Report. He asked what body within the University is suited to prepare a progress report for Senate regarding the University’s plan to meet recommendations made in the Henry Report and the Senate Education Equity Committee (SEEC)’s response.

Welsh’s question was deferred until the Nov. 27 Senate meeting.

Originally presented to Senate March 30, 2006, the Henry Report was written in response to a request by Suzanne Fortier, vice-principal (academic) in 2001. She asked the SEEC to conduct a survey about the experiences of visible minority and Aboriginal faculty members at Queen’s.

Written by Frances Henry, a professor emeriti at York University, the Henry Report reviewed surveys conducted in 2003 and 2004.

The Henry Report concluded “white privilege and power continues to be reflected in the Eurocentric curricula, traditional pedagogical approaches, hiring, promotion and tenure practices, and opportunities for research” at Queen’s.

Welsh said the University has had ample time to consider the best way to implement recommendations made in the Henry Report.

“It is reasonable to put the question to senate on which body is best suited to make a progress report,” he said. “Essentially, the reason for asking the question was to prompt the University to identify someone internally to take on the responsibility for providing an update on the Henry Report.”

Welsh said he doesn’t expect the University to have a concrete plan.

“I’m not suggesting any particular program. All I’m looking for is a snapshot of progress. We won’t get that in November. I hope to see out of the response a plan of action,” he said. “There is no point in communicating the report if the University isn’t even going to put together a plan to address the issues in the report. It’s been a while. There’s been enough time to at least begin the process of putting together some kind of action plan.”

Welsh said the “systemic racism” outlined in the Henry Report followed up on a report released in 1991.

 “The Henry Report actually referenced a previous report, the Barry Report,” he said.”The Henry Report echoed the same concerns only 15 years later. A couple of the recommendations from the Barry Report were carried out in the 90s but others weren’t.”

The Barry Report, also known as the Final Report by the Principal’s Advisory Committee on Race Relations (PAC Report), resulted in the establishment of a Human Rights Office, but little else was done regarding the issues of discrimination raised in the report.

Welsh said the same problem is true for the Henry Report.

“The Henry Report made several recommendations. The report allows the University a degree of flexibility in how to implement the recommendations,” he said. “A lot of the recommendations were fairly general. They obviously require some thought and some planning. To my knowledge, only one recommendation from the Henry Report has been carried out.”

Welsh said this recommendation is the appointment of Barrington Walker to the position of diversity advisor working through the vice-principal (academic) office.

Walker deals with issues from an academic standpoint, he said.

“[The appointment] is a great initiative. I’m glad the position was formed,” Welsh said. Barrington Walker’s mandate is much narrower than was outlined in the report. It’s an advisory position.”

Welsh said SEEC issued an official response to the Henry Report.

Recommendations outlined in SEEC’s response included the five major categories of leadership, education, recruitment/hiring/retention, rewards systems and strengthening institutional culture.

“The Henry Report was publically released two and a half years ago to SEEC. Not long after, SEEC came back with an official response to the report echoing its suggestions,” he said. “SEEC as a committee accepted the recommendations from the report.”

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