Talking respect with Bill Hart (academic advisor)

- September 30, 2016

Bill Hart. (Carter Hutton photo)
Bill Hart. (Carter Hutton photo)

September 26-30 is Respect Week at Dalhousie, and all week we'll be publishing Q&As with just some of the individuals across the university who are working to make our community more safe and inclusive while also building a sense of pride. Learn more about Respect Week.

Name: Bill Hart

Hometown: Tantallon, Nova Scotia

What do you do at Dal: Formerly an Associate Professor of Engineering, now an academic advisor in the Advising and Access Service Centre in the Killam Library

What does safety mean to you?
Safety means that all members of the Dal community can feel sure that the physical environment is safe and that the intellectual environment allows for the expression of physical difference or disability, sexual preference and gender identification without discrimination. It also means that everyone feels comfortable talking about difference in a non-judgmental way that increases understanding and acceptance.  

Describe your (dept/society/centre/initiative etc.). and how it helps support respect on campus.
Advising and Access Services works hard to be inclusive for our staff and the students who use our services. We try to be part of initiatives related to increasing physical access to the campuses, working with Facilities Management and with professors and departments to come up with solutions for individual students and advocating for universal design of spaces and courses. We try to provide a welcoming atmosphere for students regardless of their ethnic or cultural background, race, sexual preference, gender identity, or religion. We make efforts to make students feel comfortable by asking if, for instance, they  have a preferred pronoun or name and we try to normalise what sometimes is seen as ‘difference’. Although our main work is providing academic advice and academic accommodations, we try to be alert to other student needs and to inform students of other university and/or community resources that may be helpful to them.

What value does an event like Respect Week have for you? Why do you think it’s important for Dalhousie?
As a gay man who grew up in a society that defined homosexuality as illegal and a mental illness, I am constantly reminded of how much life in Canada and Nova Scotia has changed for my community. However, I am aware that the strides we’ve made as a province and as a nation could be reversed suddenly and drastically as we are seeing in other parts of the world. The value of Respect Week for me is that it is a conscious reminder that Dalhousie is actively working on increasing diversity, respect and acceptance as an ongoing priority. It is efforts like this that continue to make working at Dal interesting and satisfying.

More Respect Week profiles


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