Board of Trustees meeting welcomes Honourable Murray Sinclair as 15th Chancellor

AMS President expresses the need to improve mental health services and accommodations for international students

The Board of Trustees motioned to adopt new Harassment and Discrimination Prevention and Response policy.
Credit: 
Screenshot supplied by Sydney Ko

With warm welcomes and appreciative farewells, the Winter 2021 semester concluded with a Board of Trustees meeting on May 7. The Board discussed new annual policy statements on health and safety, student health and wellness, and sexual violence prevention and response.

The meeting commenced with a warm welcome for Murray Sinclair as the University’s 15th Chancellor.

His predecessor, Chancellor Jim Leech, expressed his congratulations.

“Over several decades, [Chancellor-Designate Sinclair] has established himself as a leading advocate for Indigenous peoples in Canada,” Leech said. “At the national level, he led the Truth and Reconciliation commission, rendering a landmark report which documented the history of residential schools in Canada and issued 94 calls to action to promote reconciliation in Canada.”

Leech concluded his remarks by reiterating a quote from Chancellor-Designate Sinclair: “Education has got us into this mess and education will get us out, I see this as a challenge and as hope.”

“I’m extremely excited about Murray’s arrival to Queen’s,” Principal Patrick Deane added. “Our conversation has been extremely constructive and positive.”

The Board of Trustees also welcomed Wanda Costen as the new Dean of the Smith School of Business and Nancy Ross as the new Vice-Principal (Research).

The Board extended its appreciation to several retired trustees including Kimberly Woodhouse, interim Vice-Principal (Research), and Shoshannah Bennet-Dwara, Undergraduate Trustee.

The Board noted with regret Sam Hiemstra’s resignation from his role as Queen’s Rector.

Student Report

In his introduction, Zaid Kasim, AMS President, discussed the challenges the university and the student body will face going forward. Kasim shed light on topics including mental health services and international students.

“This upcoming year will be a challenging one for many reasons,” Kasim said. “However, the AMS views this as a unique opportunity to address problems with students.”

Kasim said improving mental health services and promoting student wellness will be the AMS’s first priority. The President noted the severe lack of diversity in these services and urged the University to take advantage of the growing virtual landscape to provide proactive and accessible mental wellness support.

“COVID-19 pandemic pressure has overwhelmed the capacity of Student Wellness Services to sufficiently fulfill the increasing mental health needs with undergraduate students,” Kasim said.

“Student Wellness Services does not currently have the resources or the diversity of services to best serve students, particularly for remote students and international students.”

Aside from strengthening mental health services, the AMS President said international students are the organization’s next priority, as they have been disproportionately affected by remote learning. Kasim expressed the need to provide accommodation for students who might not have easy access to online learning materials or experience other barriers in learning.

“We have come to a collective decision that academic transparency and accommodation are key,” Kasim said.

“Our values are aligned with the Principal’s conversation and we want to work with you, the Board, in creating a welcoming space for the community.”

Student Code of Conduct

The trustees motioned to adopt the new Harassment and Discrimination Prevention and Response Policy. The existing Harassment/Discrimination Complaint Policy and Procedure will be rescinded. Both actions are effective Sept. 1, 2021.

The development of the new harassment and discrimination policy has been underway over the past three years.

The new policy is intended to address concerns from the community about “a lack of awareness of pathways to bring forward concerns about problematic behaviors and the complexities of those pathways,” replacing the University’s two existing policies on harassment and discrimination with a single clarified policy.

The Harassment and Discrimination Prevention and Response Policy establishes a single intake for complaints and reports on harassment and discrimination. The policy addresses recommendations from the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity and Inclusion.

The motion was carried with a spoken commitment from Principal Deane and Vice-Principal (Academic) Mark Green.

Bursaries

Board of Trustees Chair Mary Wilson Trider announced Dan Tisch, member of the Board and External Relations and Development Committee Chair, is supporting Queen’s Indigenous students with a new endowment of $100,000. The endowment is intended to create the Daniel Tisch Argyle Communications Bursary.

“The bursary is intended to support Indigenous students in any year of the students’ Bachelor of Commerce program with a secondary support for Indigenous students majoring in economics or political studies,” Wilson Trider said.

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