ASUS creates diversity advisor

Position will fulfil one point of the Leading Action on Diversity plan

ASUS President Jacob Mantle and Vice-President Dominique Vanier co-created the Diversity and Equity Advisor position. Mantle says hiring for the position will happen in the spring.
ASUS President Jacob Mantle and Vice-President Dominique Vanier co-created the Diversity and Equity Advisor position. Mantle says hiring for the position will happen in the spring.
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In response to an outcry on campus following an Islamophobic comment made by ASUS President Jacob Mantle on a friend’s Facebook page in October, the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS) is creating a new Diversity and Equity Advisor position to oversee issues relating to social justice, diversity and equity on campus.

Mantle said the position was first proposed at the Jan. 8 ASUS Assembly, and will be discussed again at the Jan. 22 ASUS Assembly. Voting will take place on Feb 5.

Mantle said only members of ASUS Assembly are eligible to vote, adding that all Arts and Science students have speaking rights at ASUS Assembly and are welcome to attend or contact him via e-mail with comments.

The position falls under one of three points outlined in ASUS’s Leading Action on Diversity plan, also created to address issues of diversity training following Mantle’s comment. The other components of the plan are a commitment to education of ASUS council members on diversity and a proposal to educate first-year Arts and Science students during Orientation week, also on diversity issues.

The Diversity and Equity Advisor, who will report to the ASUS executive, is expected to train and guide ASUS officials on matters pertaining to diversity and equity. He or she will also work together with the Queen’s Human Rights Office.

“We want them to be aware of the resources that the Human Rights Office has,” Mantle said.

Mantle said the advisor would be in contact with the AMS Social Issues Commissioner in order to avoid overlap.

“They would communicate with each other so that they’re not creating programs that are identical,” he said.

Mantle created the position along with Vice-President Dominique Vanier.

Vanier said one of the Diversity and Equity Advisor’s most important tasks will be to educate ASUS officials on diversity issues.

“They’d be responsible for training commissioners, the executive and our chairs twice through the entire academic year, as well as being an advocated—mostly internal, but also external,”she said, adding that the Diversity and Equity Advisor’s portfolio is expected to expand over the years.”

Mantle said he’s in the process of adding the Diversity and Equity Advisor position to AMS policy, and hiring will take place this spring.

Mantle said ASUS isn’t looking for someone with past experience in the field; instead, he wants to hire someone who will bring an enthusiasm for diversity.

“We want them to have a passion for those issues,” he said. “We don’t hold it against people if they don’t have past experience.”

Mantle said one issue the advisor would likely address is intellectual diversity within academics at Queen’s, adding that part of the advisor’s portfolio might include expanding courses or creating new courses, citing the creation of Arabic Studies as an example.

“It’s just a very different mentality toward how we learn.”

It hasn’t been determined how much the advisor will be paid, if anything, Mantle said, but any payment will be an honourarium.

Mantle said he decided to create the post to address the lack of attention to diversity issues within ASUS.

“It was discussed as part of our action plan. … It’s an area where we’re lacking.”

Mantle said as the largest faculty society, ASUS needs someone on staff to address these issues.

“Not all of our people are comfortable going to the AMS SIC. … It would be nice to have our own person who can do that for us.”

He said he hopes the advisor will be a useful resource for his society.

“We hope they’ll be a leader for ASUS,” he said. “I want them to advocate for the things they believe in that are inherent in their position. They should be a leader for social justice.”

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