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Belong

Reflect

Our surroundings inform our perspectives and experiences of the world. They send us messages about what matters and about who is included. These messages are important. In this theme, we take stock of the messages we send to members of our community because of the design and content of our surroundings. This theme reviews how our awards and recognitions might better celebrate the diversity of our community, the ways that we can create a more welcoming and inclusive environment, and the ways to build diversity within our Dalhousie community.

7. Acknowledge our rich history

A) Commission a redesign of our ceremonial mace. Our mace was designed by R.L. de C.H. Saunders, a Professor of Anatomy, and carved by A. H. MacMillan of Halifax. It is beautiful. One end features a silver fish that celebrates the natural abundance of Nova Scotia. The other end features the four faculties at the university in 1950 and the symbols of the home countries of the first European immigrants to the province. We are now a diverse university, with a plethora of new faculties worthy of recognition. Our context is a provincial history that also included Indigenous Blacks and Mi’kmaq. As we celebrate our 200th anniversary it is time to reflect the richness of our historic Nova Scotia and the modernity of our intellectual commitments.
Timeline: In time for our 200th anniversary
Accountability community: President’s Office, Registrar’s Office and Dalhousie Art Gallery, in coordination with Strategic Direction Charter 4.4  

B) Formalize an acknowledgment statement to be used at Dalhousie events recognizing Dalhousie’s place on Mi’kmaq territory.
Timeline: Short term
Accountability community: President’s Office, Board of Governors, and Senate, in coordination with Strategic Direction Charter 4.2  

C) Commission an official graduation regalia for Indigenous students, faculty, and staff who choose to wear it.
Timeline: In time for our 200th anniversary
Accountability community: Registrar’s Office, Dalhousie Art Gallery, Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre, and Native Post-Secondary Education Counselling Unit, in coordination with Strategic Direction Charter 4.4

8. Celebrate our diverse community

A) Develop and support already existing inclusivity campaigns around observances recognizing inclusion and diversity matters with high-impact communications and education pieces.
Timeline: Short term
Accountability community: Communications and Marketing and the DSU (especially the DSU Equity & Accessibility Office) and the Human Rights, Equity, and Harassment Prevention Office  

B) Acknowledge the religious pluralism of our community. Our campus calendar is organized around the Christian holidays despite the presence of an increasing number of students, faculty, and staff who are not Christian. We should explore how to appropriately acknowledge the celebratory holidays of the faiths reflected in our community complement (e.g. we should not informally label academic projects with Christian reference points (i.e. December exams instead of Christmas exams), we should consider whether classroom accommodations are sufficient for students and faculty of all faiths, etc.). Additionally, there are only a few gathering moments for faculty and staff at the University as a whole, and they should not be built around celebrating the traditions of only one faith (e.g. the holiday singalong without a more pluralistic approach to gatherings of the whole community).
Timeline: Medium term
Accountability community: President’s Office, Office of the Provost and Vice-President Academic, Communications and Marketing, Multifaith Centre, and the Human Rights, Equity, and Harassment Prevention Office  

C) Add a position on Senate for an elected international student.
Timeline: Medium term
Accountability community: Senate, in coordination with Strategic Direction Charter 1.3

9. Create welcoming and accessible services and buildings

A) Update the design of our symbols to promote a greater sense of inclusion (e.g. the Modified International Symbol of Access (ISA)). Work with the province to consider moving to ISA for parking spaces in the province.
Timeline: Medium term
Accountability: Facilities Management, in coordination with Charter 5.5 and 5.6  

B) Ensure the washrooms in every building on campus support inclusion (disability accessible, gender-inclusive, and where gendered, gendered evenly).
Timeline: Medium term
Accountability: Facilities Management, in coordination with Strategic Direction Charter 5.6  

C) Audit the reliance on gender identification at Dalhousie (including on all forms) and consider when gender identification is necessary to achieve the purpose of the underlying activity, and where it is necessary, provide an option for gender to be self-defined.
Timeline: Medium term
Accountability community: Every unit on campus (coordinated by Human Resources and the Office of the Provost and Vice-President Academic)

D) Develop a detailed and unified plan for ensuring full physical accessibility of the University campus, including weather accessibility. Determine where the minimum required standards are insufficient.
Timeline: Long term
Accountability: Facilities Management

E) Champion universal design for learning and work. Our study, office, and classroom spaces, and our learning and working environment, to a significant extent, are designed on ablest assumptions, which do not enable the full engagement of students, staff, and faculty.
Timeline: Long term
Accountability community: Work in collaboration with Charter 5.6 (Facilities Management, Dalhousie Libraries, Centre for Learning and Teaching, Human Resources, Academic Support, Information Technology Services)

F) Review the location of the Human Rights, Equity, and Harassment Prevention Office. Its location in the basement of the administration building sends the signal that equity is something to be hidden away. Additionally, it might be uncomfortable for some faculty, staff, and students to visit an office in a building that otherwise houses all of Dalhousie’s senior administration.
Timeline: Medium term
Accountability: Facilities Management

G) Review the visual art and artifacts on display across the University and consider a plan for the acquisition of new work that might support a more inclusive visual environment.
Timeline: Medium term
Accountability community: Office of the Provost and Vice-President Academic and Dalhousie Art Gallery

H) Promote reporting discriminatory graffiti to aid its swift removal. Graffiti should be documented before it is removed and the Human Rights, Equity, and Harassment Prevention Office should keep an electronic record of it.
Timeline: Short term
Accountability community: Facilities Management, Security Services, and the Human Rights, Equity, and Harassment Prevention Office

I) Build knowledge about our lone worker program (i.e. supports for individuals on campus who need to work alone outside of regular business hours).
Timeline: Short term
Accountability community: Human Resources and Dalhousie Security

J) Make funding available to low-income students who require mental health or learning disability assessments in order to support formal accommodation requests.
Timeline: Medium term
Accountability community: Offices of the Provost and Vice-President Academic, Student Services and Registrar, in coordination with Strategic Direction Charter 1.3

K) Support the interaction between Dalhousie Security and diverse community needs. Additional work should be undertaken to understand and address concerns and to ensure that Dalhousie Security has appropriate supports to undertake their front-line work with diverse groups.
Timeline: Medium term
Accountability community: Human Resources, Facilities Management, and Office of the Vice-President Finance and Administration, in coordination with Strategic Direction Charter 1.3

L) Review communications practices to ensure university messaging does not unintentionally exclude or unnecessarily demonstrate a Halifax-centric viewpoint. Review university business processes to determine what can be streamlined or improved for community members working or studying at sites not on the Halifax campuses.
Timeline: Medium term
Accountability community: Communications and Marketing, Offices of the Vice-President Finance and Administration and Provost and Vice-President Academic

M) Enhance recruitment from diverse communities by including members of those communities (students, graduates, international students) in recruitment teams.
Timeline: Medium term
Accountability: Registrar’s Office

10. Attract and retain diverse faculty, staff, students, and administrators

A) Design recruitment and retention strategies focused on attracting diverse faculty, staff, students, and administrators.
Accountability: Strategic Direction Charters 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 2.2, 2.3, and 5.1. (We had the opportunity to meet with the group working on Aboriginal and African Canadian Student Access and Retention Strategy to discuss their tentative recommendations. We support those recommendations.)

B) Ensure our awards and honours celebrate accomplishments in an inclusive way through a review of application procedures and criteria (for example, honorary doctorate recipients, alumni awards, and teaching award recipients, should be reflective of the “face” of our community).
Timeline: Medium term
Accountability community: Senate, Centre for Learning and Teaching, Human Resources, Dean’s Council, President’s Office, and Board of Governors, in coordination with Strategic Direction Charter 2.2

C) The University has 69 research chairs (either endowed or tri-council). Only 17 of those 69 chairs are held by women (25 per cent), even though overall the faculty complement is 40 per cent women. We could not assess the proportion held by members of other employment-equity designated groups. The University should develop an internal category of chair, offering perhaps five chairs a year, targeted at pre-tenure faculty members from equity-seeking groups to support their development as researchers. The University should provide support for modest teaching release and some modest seed funding for grant applications.
Timeline: Short term
Accountability: Office of the Vice-President Research, in coordination with Strategic Direction Charters 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, and 2.5

D) Better profile and encourage participation in the travelling workshop on accessibilityrelated topics that is already offered by the Centre for Learning and Teaching.
Timeline: Short term
Accountability community: Centre for Learning and Teaching and Deans

E) Provide an Indigenous learning centre including appropriate scholarly resources and support the availability of Indigenous elders at the centre.
Timeline: Long term
Accountability community: Office of the Provost and Vice-President Academic, Facilities Management, Centre for Learning and Teaching, Native Post-Secondary Education Counselling Unit, Transition Year Program, Dalhousie Libraries, Indigenous Blacks & Mi’kmaq Initiative and with engagement by Indigenous community members, faculty, staff, and students

F) Review and update our Employment Equity Policy and its implementation and oversight.
Timeline: Medium term
Accountability: Human Resources

G) Undertake a pay equity review, with a related public report, for racially visible and Indigenous faculty and staff and for faculty and staff with disabilities.
Timeline: Medium term
Accountability: Human Resources

H) Work with municipal and provincial governments to build a strategy for welcoming, supporting, and retaining international students.
Timeline: Medium term
Accountability: President’s Office and Government Relations Office, in coordination with Strategic Direction Charter 1.2 and 1.3

I) Explore inclusion issues in Dalhousie residences. We heard some concerns around the inclusion of students in residence. Some people raised concerns about the cost of residence and that the cost precluded lower-income (especially Nova Scotia) students from participating in residence life.
Timeline: Medium term
Accountability: Office of the Vice-Provost Student Affairs and Housing, in coordination with Strategic Direction Charter 1.3

J) Explore means to expand child care availability. The University has a highly restricted number of child care spots and limited emergency child care options. Parents (especially single parents) face significant barriers in engaging in the intellectual and social life of the University as a result of pressures around the lack of care. We encourage the University to explore options for emergency and after-hours child care on campus, perhaps collaboratively with other post-secondary programs that provide early childhood education training. We also encourage the University to review the child care needs on campus and to consider ways to alleviate pressures.
Timeline: Long term
Accountability community: DSU, Office of the Vice-Provost Student Affairs, Human Resources, in coordination with Strategic Direction Charters 1.3 and 5.1

K) Develop a peer-support program for students with mental health issues.
Timeline: Medium term
Accountability: DSU and Student Wellness