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UCARE holds first public meeting

Much of the conversation at the University Council on Anti-Racism and Equity (UCARE) public meeting revolved around the university’s progress on two key reports.

What is UCARE?
● A council formed in September 2017 to promote and support the efforts of the university to foster a more diverse and inclusive campus community.
● UCARE comprises faculty, staff, students, and alumni. The group meets three times per year.
● Forming UCARE was a recommendation of the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI) final report.
● In February, Stephanie Simpson (Artsci’95, Ed’97, MEd’11) and Mona Rahman (Sc’93, PhD’01) were named UCARE’s first co-chairs.
● For more information on UCARE, visit the council’s webpage.

Dozens of community members gathered in Robert Sutherland Hall on Monday, March 5 to learn about Queen's University’s progress in promoting diversity and inclusivity on campus, to discuss new initiatives, and to identify priorities for the months ahead.

The University Council on Anti-Racism and Equity (UCARE) meeting included updates on two diversity-related reports, an informational presentation on the Aboriginal Council of Queen’s University, and open discussion of the vision and mission for a new centre currently under consideration.

The council received a presentation from Teri Shearer, Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion) about progress made in addressing the recommendations of the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI) final report, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) task force final report.

Her updates noted some significant success stories and new initiatives within the Queen’s community. Of note, Dr. Shearer called attention to the recent Ester Margaret Harrison Estate Gift which will support bursaries for Black, racialized, and first generation students – supports recommended in the PICRDI report. Dr. Shearer’s report also noted the support given to, and the success of, Black History Month at Queen’s, as well as a recent ‘open office hour’ discussion event she held in Ban Righ Hall.

On the subject of reconciliation efforts, Dr. Shearer announced that an implementation group was being formed to help ensure that the TRC task force final report recommendations were fulfilled. She also reported on the work that was underway to renovate Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, and efforts by the Faculty of Arts and Science to find other Indigenous student space on campus.

Teri Shearer, Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion) provides an update on the university’s progress on two key diversity reports. (University Communications)
Teri Shearer, Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion) provides an update on the university’s progress on two key diversity reports. (University Communications)

In a verbal update, Dr. Shearer mentioned that the final report from the Undergraduate Orientation Review Working Group was recently delivered to Principal Daniel Woolf. This report, which makes several recommendations aimed at making undergraduate orientation week more inclusive, will be shared publicly with the Queen’s community in the near future.

In response to this update, a question was raised around further inclusivity training for orientation leaders as well as staff and faculty. Dr. Shearer, along with Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean (Student Affairs), mentioned training that is being co-developed by the Equity and Human Rights Offices and Student Affairs. It will be delivered to this year’s orientation leaders.

Dr. Shearer also noted that the university has been briefing the Board of Trustees on key diversity metrics related to students, faculty, and staff, and these numbers will inform the creation of the university’s next strategic framework.

Lastly, she announced the creation of an Inclusive Community newsletter. This new resource will be used to share stories, and help demonstrate how Queen’s is meeting its diversity commitments. The newsletter will also promote related events, and increase communication around diversity and inclusivity on campus.

Teri Shearer, Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion) provides an update on the university’s progress on two key diversity reports. (University Communications)
Council Co-Chairs Stephanie Simpson and Mona Rahman lead the discussion at the UCARE meeting. (University Communications)

The bulk of the meeting was spent discussing the proposed Alfie Pierce Centre for Racial Equity and Social Justice, a new centre that was mentioned in the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI) final report.

Dr. Shearer has been working to identify space for this centre on campus and conduct consultations with the community. A university-owned and currently unoccupied house on Albert Street has been identified as a possible location. The house is currently undergoing a feasibility study to assess how it could best be adapted into the Alfie Pierce Centre.

The discussion was opened to members of the public, and it began with lively discussions about the proposed name and location. The deputy provost noted the Alfie Pierce name is not final and there are still more discussions to come on the centre and its overall vision.

The students present stressed the need for a space for racialized students, and expressed their hope to see progress on the centre in time for the fall.

The next UCARE meeting, an internal planning meeting, will be held in April.