“Be Counted”: Dalhousie Census to provide better understanding of the university community

- November 16, 2015

Individuals from across the university are encouraging the Dal community to complete the new Census.
Individuals from across the university are encouraging the Dal community to complete the new Census.

Dalhousie is a community shaped by its diversity— and the new Dalhousie Census, launching this week, is looking to document that diversity to help improve how the university supports an inclusive environment for everyone.

Open to all faculty, staff and students to complete, the Dalhousie Census expands the previously existing Diversity Self-ID questionnaire to include new questions on gender identity and sexual orientation. It will be available online for the first time and students will also be invited to take part. All information provided is confidential.

The goal: provide Dalhousie with a better understanding of the fabric of its community to help inform decision-making across the university.

“The census will help us better understand our university community and create meaningful programs and initiatives to address gaps that are identified,” says Ian Nason, vice-president finance and administration and the co-executive sponsor for Dal’s Strategic Initiative on Diversity and Inclusiveness.

While the census can be completed at any time, the university is launching it with a “Be Counted” campaign from November 16-30, emphasizing how taking a few minutes to complete the census by visiting dal.ca/BeCounted will help the university improve programs, supports and services, particularly those related to diversity and inclusiveness.

“As a student leader, I’m excited to be involved with the launch of the Dalhousie Census,” says Dan Nicholson, president, Dalhousie Student Union. “It’s important for students to participate in the census to ensure our diversity is reflected in the data, which will help shape the university’s programs.”

 “We are striving to reach an 80 per cent response rate for the census, so we really need your help in getting the word out about it and encouraging your leaders, colleagues and students to participate,” adds Nason.

Complete the census: dal.ca/BeCounted

Dal Vice-Presidents Ian Nason (finance and administration) and Peter Fardy (advancement) helping promote the Dal Census. (Bruce Bottomley photo)

The importance of being counted

The census, part of a Diversity Data Project, is one of several initiatives currently underway that align with the goals of the university’s Strategic Initiative on Diversity and Inclusiveness. Other initiatives include the recruitment for an executive director position, the addition of an education advisor in the Office of Human Rights, Equity and Harassment Prevention, and a university-wide Mental Wellness Initiative.

The Diversity Data Project, identified early in the development of the university’s Strategic Direction, is based on the need to have more comprehensive data about Dalhousie’s diverse faculty, staff and student population. The project, through the introduction of the census, will essentially lay the foundation for much of the university’s diversity and inclusiveness work to follow.

“It is important for everyone to be counted in the census, and that includes faculty and staff who have been at Dalhousie for many years and may not be a member of any of the underrepresented groups,” adds Jasmine Walsh, project lead and acting assistant vice-president, Human Resources. “We have more than 25,000 faculty, staff and students who are living, working and studying on our campuses each year. We need an accurate picture of who makes up Dalhousie in order to make informed decisions that are reflective of our current population.”

The census data will be shared with the university community in the New Year. A regular report will be compiled annually on the Be Counted website.

“We are partnering with the Office of Human Rights, Equity and Harassment Prevention and the Dalhousie Student Union for the first time to help reach students so that they recognize the importance of the census and why they should complete it,” adds Anne Forrestall, acting vice-provost, student affairs. “By completing the census, students can help shape university policies and programs that will help make Dalhousie a welcoming and supportive place to work and learn, long after they graduate.”

Beginning this year, the census campaign will run every November.

Visit dal.ca/BeCounted to complete the census and to learn more.


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