University Council on Anti-Racism & Equity Committee members selected

Seventeen committee members to address racism and equity on campus

Richardson Hall.
Journal file photo

On Dec. 6, Queen’s announced the members of the inaugural University Council on Anti-Racism and Equity (UCARE). Over a month later, the 17 members are now starting work on a broad mandate to “help shape the vision and strategy of the University” on matters of racism, diversity and inclusion on campus.

The Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity and Inclusion (PICRDI) report released in April of 2017 called for the establishment of UCARE, along with numerous other recommendations regarding the state of diversity  on campus.

The establishment of the council was officially announced in a press release from the University on Sept. 28. Applications were accepted until Oct. 22, wherein a second University press release on Dec. 6 announced the inaugural members. 

According to the committee’s description available online, UCARE is responsible “for coordinating, reviewing, and reporting on the process of sustained university-wide initiatives to address racism and to promote diversity and inclusion at Queen’s.” 

Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion) Teri Shearer shared her vision for the committee’s work in an interview with The Journal

“I view UCARE as enabling the community to work in partnership with administration to not only effect change but to identify where the most important points of change are and to brainstorm solutions to barriers that individuals in racialized positions in this community experience,” she said.

According to the Council’s official website, UCARE’s composition will maintain a 51 per cent representation from racialized groups. Members will serve two year terms with a chance to renew for another two years upon completion. 

Rector Cam Yung, who served on the Council’s nomination committee, told The Journal they looked for diversity when selecting members. 

“We wanted to make sure we were able to get a group of individuals that were representative of the population of Queen’s now, but also for the years to come,” he said.

Alongside Yung, Associate Dean (Research and Graduate Studies) in the Faculty of Engineering Amir Fam, AMS Social Issues Commissioner Ramna Safeer and Human Rights Office Director Stephanie Simpson served on the committee.

For student representative Darian Baskatawang, ArtSci ’18, there was no question about whether he would submit an application. “[UCARE] definitely needed an Indigenous voice,” he said. 

“When you’re dealing with anti-racism, the more people you have from different backgrounds and different experiences in their lives, the better the outcome,” Baskatawang said.

Baskatawang joins 16 other members from Queen’s and the wider Kingston community on the Council. Representation is composed of students, staff, faculty, the Human Rights Office Director, the Principal, the Provost, the Vice-Provost, AMS and SGPS representatives, a Senate Chair member and members of the Kingston community or alumni. 

UCARE members will meet in January to formulate a strategic plan for the council, select co-chairs and possibly structure sub-councils. In March, the council will have their first official meeting to begin planning initiatives. Baskatawang would like the Council to prioritize the needs of students and the demands stemming from PICRDI’s report.

“We want to put the students first, we want to make a home for them and that starts by listening to them,” Baskatawang said. “We have this document here, and this should be our first priority.” 

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