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Dal making progress with diversity/inclusiveness initiatives

- September 11, 2015

In May, phase two of the university’s Strategic Initiative on Diversity and Inclusiveness (5.2) began its rollout to the Dal community. Over the summer months, departments, faculties and groups on campus have been busy working on several projects that will fulfill some of the recommendations outlined in the initiative’s Belong report.

The Office of Human Rights, Equity and Harassment Prevention (HREHP) is undergoing some changes. A new education advisor, Shakira Weatherdon, has joined the team and will help increase engagement in diversity events on campus including Pink Day, which has expanded into “Respect Week.” Among the initiatives this role will help implement are a Bystander program for sexualized violence, design a Speak-up/Upstander program on issues of discrimination using a peer-to-peer model, and pilot an online learning module on consent. As outlined in the recommendations, a review of the Office’s location, name and mandate is also being considered.

The recruitment for an executive director, diversity and inclusiveness, which will report directly to the university president, is also underway. The executive director will oversee the implementation of the Strategic Initiative on Diversity and Inclusiveness; collaborate with the Human Rights, Equity, Harassment and Prevention Office to address climate and cultural issues on campus; and develop a long-term plan to address diversity and inclusiveness at the university.

“This position was identified as a need when the Dal’s Strategic Direction was being developed, and was further reinforced during the Dentistry situation,” says Katherine Frank, assistant vice-president, Human Resources and project lead for the strategic initiative. “We have received a number of very qualified applicants, and we hope to have a successful candidate in the position by the end of October.”

Also on track is the Diversity Data Project, with plans in the works for launching an annual “Census Day” in November. The event will encourage faculty and staff on all campuses to complete the university’s self-identification survey. This tool is vital to Dal understanding its population, which helps better shape diversity programs and initiatives. While the survey itself has been around for many years, this will be the first year that it will include gender and sexual identity as a category. Stay tuned as you will hear more about this event in the fall.

In addition, as was identified by both the strategic initiative on diversity and inclusiveness and the 2015 workplace survey results, a university-wide mental wellness initiative for faculty, staff and students is currently in development. The Healthy Workplace Collaborative, a group comprised of faculty and staff who have some component of health in their role or a particular interest in it, will develop a statement of commitment to mental wellness on campus, establish principles to support this commitment, and make broad recommendations for areas of focus.

The recommendations outlined in phase one of this strategic initiative include some short- (one year), mid- (1-3 years) and long-term (3-5 years) ones. As more projects move forward, they will be featured in regular updates on the Strategic Direction site and highlighted here on Dal News.

“We are making great strides with several of the recommendations,” says Frank. “Thanks to so many faculty and staff who really stepped up and initiated many of these projects on their own. Together, we can help build a more collegial culture, celebrate our diversity and ensure everyone feels welcome and included here at Dal.”


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