Senate Highlights – June 10, 2019

- June 26, 2019

Following meetings of the Dalhousie University Senate, Dal News highlights some of the presentations and decisions made.

Senate is the university’s senior academic governing body, with membership consisting of elected representatives from Dal’s Faculties and the University Libraries, elected student representatives, a representative from the University of King’s College and Dal’s senior academic administrators. Senate is responsible for approving new programs; granting degrees/diplomas; managing the reviews of Faculties, centres and institutes; and setting academic regulations and the academic calendar.

Senate meets on the second and fourth Mondays of the month, from September through June. Learn more about Senate and its business at the Senate website.

Sexualized Violence Policy review — proposed revisions

When Senate and the Board of Governors approved Dal’s new Sexualized Violence Policy last year, Human Rights and Equity Services (HRES) — which administers the policy — was tasked with undertaking a review after the first six months of implementation of the policy and proposing any revisions that might be needed. Melissa MacKay, sexualized violence advisor with HRES, provided an overview of those proposed changes to Senate for approval.

Some to the suggested revisions include:

•    Language refinements to better align some categories in the policy with annual reporting categories. Some administrators’ titles have also changed since implementation, which are now reflected in revisions.

•    Some processes were revised to clarify language regarding jurisdiction under the policy’s application, particularly for incidents of sexualized violence occurring off campus. More details around aspects of the reporting process are also included, such as expanding explanations around interim measures and how they are imposed and can be appealed.

•    Allowing more time for respondents to submit a response to a report.

•    When outcomes or interim measures are imposed, those impacted will be provided with the more specific information about the criteria used to inform those decisions.

•    Refinement of the roles of the Senate Discipline Committee (SDC) and Vice-Provost, Student Affairs to ensure the SDC proceedings are focused on determining the appropriate sanctions rather than the finding itself.

Suggested revisions were based on feedback — both in-person and written — from people who had engaged with the policy or who had a role in supporting the policy’s procedures, said MacKay. With Senate lacking quorum at this meeting, the revisions were approved  later through an on-line electronic vote with Senators.

Faculty of Agriculture - Senate review

Highlights from the report by the Senate Review Committee for the Faculty of Agriculture were presented to Senate by committee chair Bertrum MacDonald, from the School of Information Management, and David Gray, the Faculty’s dean and principal of the Agricultural Campus.

Dr. MacDonald said the committee concluded its review with a “very positive” view of the Faculty, which was created after the Nova Scotia Agricultural College merged with Dal in 2012. The Review Committee’s recommendations were designed to assist with building on strengths and supporting the advantages of having the Faculty as part of an enlarged university, he said. While it found a strong campus culture, the committee also noted some difficulties arising due to the Faculty’s distance from Halifax.

Calling the review “incredibly constructive,” Dr. Gray said the Faculty was aware of most of the areas of recommendation and had already begun work on some of them. Dr. Gray said the process highlighted a few “growing pains” to address moving forward, including a need for greater understanding of the distinction between the Faculty and the Agricultural Campus more broadly, the need for better technology that allows easier virtual remote access to meetings and events for individuals, methods to boost student recruitment, and greater inclusion of the Ag Campus in university events.

Federal Contractors Program update

Jasmine Walsh, assistant vice-president, Human Resources, and Megan Wagstaff, senior institutional analyst with Dal Analytics, delivered a presentation of some of the practices and challenges around fair and equitable hiring at Dal as it relates to the Federal Contractors program. The program was set up to ensure that institutions receiving a certain amount of federal funding, such as Dal, comply with the Federal Equity Act, which lays out hiring targets in four historically underrepresented groups — women, Indigenous persons,  racially visible persons, and persons with disabilities.

Dal's goal as it relates to employment equity is to build institutional capacity for diversity and inclusiveness through recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce with particular emphasis on these historically underrepresented groups, as well as for a fifth group of individuals of minority sexual orientation or gender identity. Objectives to support this include increasing diversity of faculty and staff at all levels through deliberate actions to achieve percentages in alignment with labour market availability; increasing diversity and representation in leadership and management positions; and aligning Human Resource practices and policies to support these objectives.

Wagstaff explained that Dalhousie tracks its own employment equity statistics, which it then uses to compare to Statistics Canada labour market figures to see if the university is meeting,  exceeding, or missing expectations in the different categories. Walsh said that Dal set a goal to close all gaps by 80 per cent — a rigorous target set out to help mitigate an increase in gaps when new census data is released in 2019.

Steps to make diversity and inclusion a reality

Keisha Jefferies, a PhD candidate in the School of Nursing, spoke to Senate about her experiences as an African Nova Scotian and first-generation university student. A Vanier Scholar and Killam Laureate, Jefferies says she did encounter challenges along the way in her studies related to both stiff entrance requirements and finding financial support — issues she says are faced by others of a similar background. She then spoke about how she was able to push forward and make progress. “That is definitely drawing on a tribe – a group of people who really support me – drawing on friends and family and faculty members who actually stood out and supported and stepped up when it was absolutely necessary.”

Learn more about the Dalhousie Senate at its website. Minutes for past Senate meetings are available on DalSpace. Minutes for this meeting will be posted once approved by Senate.


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