All across Dalhousie, people are working hard to foster a more collegial culture of diversity and inclusiveness — a challenge laid out explicitly in the university’s Strategic Direction released in 2014.
To help provide a clearer picture of the progress being made, the university committed in the Belong report released that same year to biennial updates on how faculties and units are doing when it comes to creating a more welcoming environment for everyone.
These updates are based around feedback from faculties and units on how they are responding to the specific recommendations laid out in four separate reports, including the aforementioned Belong report, the Report from the Task Force on Misogyny, Sexism and Homophobia in the Faculty of Dentistry, the Report from the Restorative Justice process at the Faculty of Dentistry and the national Truth and Reconciliation Report.
Learn more: Culture of Respect: Progress updates
A quick glance at the first two Progress on Report Recommendations updates — one released last November and the other this past June — illustrate just how much momentum has been building on this priority in a short time.
“Every time that we’ve had an update, we’ve always had an increased response from faculty and administration,” says Norma Williams, Dal’s executive director of diversity and inclusiveness.
Updated process for updates
The launch of the submission process for the next update began last Wednesday. This time around, the university has introduced a couple of tweaks in how it gathers the information, including designating contact people in each faculty and administrative unit. These individuals have been tasked with soliciting submissions from the many different departments, schools and sub-units under their purview and feeding that input back to the university for use in the next update.
The university has also introduced a new online submission system for the faculties and units using SharePoint, a tool that enables easier online collaboration among teams. With past updates, the university has emailed a form around that was then filled out and sent back.
Williams says these changes should ensure an even more complete account of the extensive diversity and inclusion programs, policies, and initiatives underway across the university and help streamline the process a bit.
“We’re trying to make it a little bit smoother for all,” says Williams.
Williams says she’s looking forward to seeing the latest updates from faculties and units. While some recent updates have already been broadcast to the university community, such as the creation of the Chancellor’s Chair in Aboriginal Law and Policy and the launch of a new minor in African and Diaspora Studies this fall, there is so much happening around the university that others may not be as widely known.
“It’s a bit like opening a present and being surprised by what is happening,” says Williams.
Jasmine Walsh, co-lead with Wanda Thomas Bernard on the University’s Strategic Initiative 5.2, says, “our research suggests that for an institution of higher education to move the dial forward on diversity and inclusiveness it must engage in self-study on the status of diversity, develop a framework with a set of measurable indicators, and develop a means of regular reporting. All of this work is well underway now at Dalhousie and the PORR report that Norma Williams is steering has been a critical aspect of the work.”
Submissions from faculties and units are due October 28, with the update expected in mid-December. For more information, visit the Culture of Respect website or contact Norma Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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