Senate votes to take immediate action

Tuesday’s meeting mainly focused on an appropriate response to diversity concerns

The protest outside of Senate on Tuesday.

Tuesday's meeting of the Queen’s Senate admitted 13 visitors — including student protestors with tape crossed over their mouths — and was prefaced with an email anticipating capacity issues in 202 Robert Sutherland Hall. 

An off-site room had been reserved, for the meeting to be live-streamed. 

Beginning with a head-on address, Principal Daniel Woolf’s report opened up Senate on a single issue: the party that gained national media attention last week. 

Woolf reiterated the sentiments he expressed in his blog on Monday, in which he acknowledged that the party had upset and degraded many students, and announced that he would be assembling an advisory task force to consult on the issue of diversity at Queen’s.

Woolf also noted in his statement that the individual students involved would not be punished under the Student Code of Conduct.

After restating these ideas in front of Senate and expressing hope for finding “a constructive path forward”, Woolf asked for input from Senators regarding the size and composition of the task force.

Senator Eleanor MacDonald immediately shared her view. “I do not support the creation of another task force,” she told the room. 

MacDonald explained to the Senate that in the past 25 years, Queen’s has assembled multiple task forces and gathered a wealth of data on the subject of diversity on campus. 

Several reports were produced from these investigations, citing the Principal’s Advisory Committee (PAC) Report in 1991, the Henry Report in 2004, the Diversity, Anti-Racism and Equity (DARE) Panel Report in 2009, and the Diversity and Equity Task Force (DET) Report in 2011. 

Each report found diversity to be a serious problem at Queen’s, and each provided recommendations for improvement, MacDonald explained to Senate attendees. 

“The administration has failed to implement most, indeed nearly all, of the recommendations made by experts over the past 25 years,” she said. 

“This administration and previous administrations have allowed a climate to persist, while being aware of it, that makes possible the kinds of acts of racism that took place last week.”

In the place of another task force, MacDonald suggested the formation of an implementation committee whose mandate would be to implement the recommendations made in previous diversity reports. MacDonald then put this idea to a motion, which Senator Margaret Pappano seconded. 

Woolf responded that, while he admits not as much progress has been made as they had hoped, small initiatives have been implemented, and he was “not prepared to accept that this is all on the backs of the university administration.”

After a suggestion the motion be tabled to another day, many of the visiting students exited the room. At this time, one student shouted from the doorway that “racism can’t wait!”

The discussion period continued, and eventually Woolf recommended that Senate approve the motion, to address the issue as soon as possible. The motion passed with one abstention. 

According to Student Senator Brandon Jamieson, the motion is non-binding, as Senate doesn’t have jurisdiction over fiduciary allocations.

Senate agreed to the formation of a Principal’s implementation group, which will consist of three members selected by Senate, and three selected by Principal Woolf, all of who will be Queen’s students, faculty, or staff.

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