Dean's Statement regarding recent events at Queen's

*This statement was read by the Dean at Faculty Board on Friday, November 25, 2016.

As the principal said in his statement earlier this week, we, in the Faculty of Arts and Science, are upset and disappointed by the recent events at Queen’s. Any racist event or activity that serves to degrade, mock or marginalize is completely unacceptable and disturbing.

Together the Faculty of Arts and Science and the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS) believe that we have a collective responsibility to make efforts to address systemic racism and activities leading to an unwelcoming environment for our students, staff and faculty. This responsibility does not rest on one unit or one Faculty’s shoulders. In recognizing this we, in Arts and Science, are committed to a continuing need to create an inclusive environment by increasing our efforts now, and into the future. Recent events are causing much needed discussion and dialogue about why addressing systemic racism is imperative, and more importantly, how we are going to take action.

We applaud ASUS for their attention to this issue and their leadership in responding to student concerns. They are a testament to the type of leadership we need to become a truly inclusive environment for which we are striving.

In the short-term students, faculty and staff who are deeply affected by this week’s events are encouraged to seek out support from services such as the Chaplain’s office, the Human Rights and Equity office, Counselling and Wellness Services, Four Directions, the University Ombudsman, and Queen’s University International Centre.

Over the next few months, following on a program that began in the Faculty of Arts and Science office in August, we will be rolling out a series of discussions on human rights, equity and diversity, with student leaders across the Faculty. As a starting point the Deans leadership team, as well as the entire staff in the Faculty of Arts and Science offices (student services; continuing and distance studies, advancement) have already participated in such discussions led by the Human Rights and Equity Offices. Similar discussions will be held with Department Heads in second term. In addition, by March 2017 it is our goal that all students in Arts and Science will have the opportunity to engage in similar discussions.

As we strive for greater awareness and accountability regarding respect of differences in our Faculty community and beyond, we will seek out new opportunities for discussion and training, including ASUS integrating these important conversations into orientation week. As an educational institution, it is our duty to embrace teaching and learning as a vital, respectful way to reflect, discuss and improve on what we do every day. Through this process we can build our awareness of the challenges we face in addressing systemic racism on campus, and building a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all.  As Interim Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science, I am committed to continue working on heightening our collective awareness around issues of racism, equity, and diversity at Queen’s. While this is my priority, it is also our priority and I ask that all of us join together.