Group seeking community stories of lived experience of discrimination to help guide initiatives
This fall, Mount Allison University established the President’s Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion. Over the next year, the group will review and provide recommendations for actions to help the university become a more diverse and inclusive community.
“The task force includes members from across campus, students, faculty, and staff,” says Ivan Okello, Mount Allison’s Black Students Advisor and Diversity Educator and committee co-chair. “We hope to hear and learn from the experiences of different communities and perspectives on our campus and find ways to ensure all groups are heard and feel supported at Mount Allison.”
Okello serves as co-chair of the task force along with Dr. Vicki St. Pierre, Interim Dean of Arts and Music professor. Over the coming months, the committee will review and assess the University’s support for diversity and inclusion across a range of current practices and policies, including educational resources, training, and support, and identify systemic barriers. The committee will bring forward recommendations for practical initiatives to improve these in a public report.
The task force is currently seeking to hear from Mount Allison community members about lived experiences around as it pertains to discrimination on the basis of race, gender and/or sexuality, disability (physical or otherwise), or any other discrimination or barrier.
“While we understand these are difficult topics, hearing lived experiences will provide an essential focus for our committee to move forward and make specific recommendations to better serve the Mount Allison community,” says St. Pierre. “These submissions are treated with high confidentiality and remain completely anonymous, even within the committee.”
Written expressions may be anonymously sent to Okello and St. Pierre via the bookstore by dropping off a sealed envelope to be delivered through campus mail. Direct (non-anonymous) submissions can be sent to the co-chairs via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com). These expressions will be shared with the task force but will remain confidential and anonymous. Individuals may send their submissions anytime over the fall term.
“Hearing these experiences from our students, staff and faculty, and students, is key in helping to identify the root issues and how to address them in our community,” says Okello. “Mount Allison is known for its welcoming community, and there are already many groups and areas on campus whose focus includes diversity and inclusion. We hope the work of the task force will help bring these resources together and build on their work towards a more diverse and inclusive campus.”
Along with Okello and St. Pierre, members of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force include: Sabine Beisser (Human Resources); Dr. Amatoritsero Ede (Department of English); Dr. Lisa Dawn Hamilton (Department of Psychology); Dr. Karl Hele (Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies); Dr. Greg Sandala (Research); Elizabeth Stregger (Library); Eva Zhou (Chemistry); and students Hope Salmonson, Rachael Hanakowski, and Kawama Kasutu.
The Committee will provide a progress report to the President and Vice-Presidents in December 2020 and a final, public report in May 2021.