In early March, the "Belong" report was released, the result of the first phase of work from Dal’s Strategic Initiative on Diversity and Inclusiveness.
Outlined initially as part of the university’s Strategic Direction last year but accelerated in light of events in the Faculty of Dentistry, the initiative aims to ensure a collegial culture at Dalhousie for faculty, staff and students, one that celebrates diversity and ensures that all members of the Dal community feel included.
Two months after the report’s release, the second phase of the strategic initiative is taking shape. A leadership group is being recruited, Senate will be establishing a sub-committee to help lead some of the recommendations, and several projects have been identified to get underway shortly. These include a review of the Human Rights, Equity and Harassment Prevention Office, creating councils or committees on diversity and inclusion in each Faculty, and the launch of a lecture series around related topics starting in the fall.
“Dalhousie is a diverse community, and it must also be a respectful and inclusive one,” says Ian Nason, vice-president finance and administration and executive sponsor for the strategic initiative, together with Provost Carolyn Watters. “The Belong report offers us a number of key areas where we can make improvements and changes to help us get closer to that important goal.”
Read more: The "Belong" report
Considering and implementing the recommendations
Phase one of the strategic initiative — which consisted of over 60 outreach consultations and the development the “Belong” action report— was led by a committee of students, faculty and staff chaired by Kim Brooks, dean of the Schulich School of Law. Now, as the initiative transitions to considering and implementing those recommendations, a new leadership committee is being formed.
Katherine Frank, assistant vice-president, Human Resources and member of the phase one committee, will chair the committee. The committee will consist of some representatives from the phase one committee as well as new members currently being recruited.
“Diversity and inclusiveness are topics that span the entire university community, meaning each project will need its own project team of stakeholders to consider the recommendation and how it could be implemented,” says Frank. “Our task, as the leadership committee, is to help get those groups started, to support their work, ensure they make progress towards their goals and report back to the Dal community.”
As the “Belong” report outlined, few of its recommended projects are quick and simple, and in many cases they will require further consultation and consideration within the Dalhousie community. The initiative is focusing on implementing some of the short- (one year), mid- (1-3 years) and long-term (3-5 year) recommendations, as has committed to starting work on several in short order, including:
- A review of the mandate and structure of the Human Rights, Equity and Harassment Prevention office, adding a new position to support outreach work
- Working with Faculties to create a council or committee on inclusion and diversity in each Faculty.
- The launch of an initial lecture series this fall, as well as a diversity-focused one-day conference, establishing inclusion as key to the intellectual life of the university.
- Senate will lead and/or partner with administration in considering six of the report’s recommendations, including: a statement on inclusion for all course syllabi; a formal mandatory program for all students at Dalhousie; creating a more broadly applicable protocol for “inclusion and diversity” audits for Faculties; and reviewing Senate membership to ensure inclusion and representation of diverse populations, i.e. international students.
- The development of a module in orientation for graduate students on faculty-student supervisory relationships (and structures for support and reporting), as well as a mandatory module for supervisors on expectations and responsibilities.
- New eduacational content in deans’ orientation around diversity and inclusiveness.
- Conducting a review of student orientation
The leadership committee has also committed to updating the Dal community on a regular basis through the upcoming year, in addition to the required annual reports to Senate, the Board and senior administration. (As projects move forward, we will also endeavour to highlight them here on Dal News.)
The strategic initiative welcomes comments from the Dal community, either through dal.ca/belong or directly to Katherine Frank.
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