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Instructors honoured for championing student mental health

More than two dozen Queen’s instructors have been nominated as Classroom Champions for Mental Health.

Seated students are seen from the back of a classroom
A total of 28 Queen’s instructors have been nominated by students and teaching assistants as the inaugural Classroom Champions for Mental Health. 

An instructor’s work does not simply conclude at the end of a lecture. The journey to a successful session – or term for that matter ­– often requires a holistic approach. An approach that includes a key element: championing mental health.

The Student Mental Health Network is honouring Queen’s educators working to support and advance the mental wellbeing of those in their classrooms. These instructors have been named Classroom Champions for Mental Health.

A total of 28 instructors were nominated by students and teaching assistants for this honour. Those who submitted nominations shared stories of the positive impacts instructors made on the mental health of students.

“Mental health determines everything we do in life. Even when thinking that you are doing fantastic, this still involves mental health,” says Daphne Brouwer, a professor in the Department of Philosophy. “And when not doing so great, it can take over your life in ways that is hard to talk about. Mental health is, however, never an individual thing, and the only way to improve it is by sharing it. It is for this reason that mental health should be recognized more, accepted more, and worked on more. Not only for us as students and educators, but also for us as human beings that are trying to stay alive. One day after another.”

The Student Mental Health Network is a caucus of student and staff leaders working to advance student mental health. The project aligns with the objectives and values outlined in Queen’s Campus Wellbeing Framework and Queen’s Strategy, including promoting a culture of health and well-being across campus.

Classroom Champions for Mental Health is co-led by the Campus Wellness Project’s undergraduate student intern, a position partially funded by Bell Let’s Talk and coordinated through Student Affairs.

“The Classroom Champions for Mental Health project showcases educators who have made a significant contribution to student mental health,” says Linda Cheng, QUIP student intern, Project Coordinator of the Campus Wellness Project, and Co-Lead of the Student Mental Health Network. “The student submissions and insights on how these educators view and approach mental health, really show how a small action can create a large impact. For example, taking a couple of minutes before class to ask how everyone is doing or telling students they’re available to talk and/or listen.”

Elizabeth Baisley, a professor in the Department of Political Science, focuses on three areas to help their students. First is making sure students have a manageable workload; Second, classes are designed by using the principals of universal design for learning. Built into the curriculum is the assumption every student will experience some form of an accommodation need; and final, Dr. Baisley reduces the stigma that comes with mental health issues through regular conversations with the class.

“To me, mental health is about the parts of health that tend to be ignored by focusing solely on physical health. This includes emotional, psychological, social, and sometimes even spiritual wellbeing,” Dr. Baisley says.

Educators who are nominated as Classroom Champions will be profiled on the Campus Wellbeing site and social media (Instagram: @campuswellbeingproject) during Mental Health Promotion Week (Jan. 24-28). Students will have the opportunity to nominate additional Classroom Champions later this term.

Jodi Basch, an instructor and PhD student in the Faculty of Education, provides students with resources to support their own mental health. Additionally, Basch empowers students to share those tips with their peers.

“Just as we have a physical immune system, it is important to recognize that we also have a psychological immune system,” Basch says. “It is important to be kind to ourselves through the challenges that we will all inevitably face and allow our psychological immune system to do its job. Some days it may feel as if we have more reserve than others and other days it may feel like any challenge will push us over the edge. If we discover what we need on both the good and the bad days, it will be easier to live both presently and authentically.

The next round of Champions for Mental Health will open this spring, and will be open for students to nominate staff and instructors.

For more information and resources on mental health efforts at Queen’s, please visit the Wellbeing Resources page on the Campus Wellness Project site.

‘Polishing the Chain’ ceremony renews bonds between Queen’s and Indigenous communities

Tehontatenentsonterontahkhwa - Friendship Wampum belt
The Tehontatenentsonterontahkhwa - Friendship Wampum Belt - was presented to Queen's by the Clan Mothers at Tyendinaga, and the Grandmothers' Council.

A special ceremony took place ahead of the Jan. 25 meeting of Queen’s Senate, to highlight the continuing bond between the university and local Indigenous communities.

The ‘polishing the chain’ ceremony is a reminder that the relationship between Queen’s and Indigenous peoples is ongoing and not merely a moment in time.

The ceremony revisits the promise of the Tehontatenentsonterontahkhwa (friendship wampum belt), which was presented to the university as Queen’s marked its 175th anniversary during a Senate meeting on March 7, 2017. The Tehontatenentsonterontahkhwa was presented by the Clan Mothers at Tyendinaga, and the Grandmothers' Council of Katarokwi.

The belt is now placed at the head table during every Senate meeting as a reminder that the university sits on traditional Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee territory as well as the commitments made to each other over the years.

As part of the ceremony, Elder Allen Doxtator - Te howis kwûnt, offered the words before all else in English and Oneida.

Wampum are traditionally beads made from quahog shells. Belts made of wampum are used to mark agreements, contracts, and commitments between peoples and nations and are of particular significance when associated with treaties or covenants.

Students helping students

Peer Wellness Coaching offers virtual support to improve physical activity, sleep and mental health.

A young woman interacts online via a laptop computer.
Peer Wellness Coaches help inspire other Queen’s students to be more physically active, decrease their sedentary time, and sleep better. (Unsplash/Brooke Cagle)

Mental health is strongly connected to good sleep habits, physical activity and stress management, but it can be hard to start and maintain positive health behaviours on your own.  Working with someone who can help you set and achieve goals can help, especially if it’s a peer who can relate to your experience. This month, as Queen’s marks Mental Health Promotion Week, Health Promotion in Student Wellness Services is promoting its new Peer Wellness Coaching initiative to further support student wellbeing.  

The program empowers students by facilitating one-on-one conversations aimed at improving sleep strategies, increasing light and moderate physical activity, and reducing sedentary time. These three movement behaviours align with the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Adults, which Queen’s researchers Dr. Jennifer Tomasone and Dr. Robert Ross helped develop. Students can book 10-to-30-minute one-on-one virtual sessions with a trained Peer Wellness Coach who will use evidence-based strategies and a multiculturally-aware lens to guide an open, confidential dialogue about how to build new skills and track progress toward short and long-term goals.

“Health and wellness affect every area of life, and I am so excited to help others to build self-confidence and self-efficacy in working toward their goals,” says Peer Wellness Coach Chelsea, a third-year Health Studies student.

Thirteen undergraduate students were selected and trained for this inaugural year of the program. Having experienced the stress of balancing academic workloads and healthy lifestyle choices firsthand, the coaches are well suited to inspire their peers to be more physically active, decrease their sedentary time, and get better sleep.

The 24-hour movement guidelines can help all adults increase their knowledge and understanding of what they can do throughout their day to stay healthy.

Importance of Sleep

As devices such as smart phones, tablets, and television become more integrated in our daily routines, so does the need to improve sleep hygiene. This generally consists of three components: improving sleep quality, having consistent bed and wake times and sleeping 7-9 hours each night. Providing guidance on how to identify and manage disruptions to these components of sleep is an important step in reducing stress, improving cognitive function, and feeling more energized throughout the day.

Importance of Activity

For many, the switch to remote learning has increased screen time while limiting opportunities for vigorous and moderate physical activity. From the release of stress-relieving endorphins that comes from this type of movement, to reducing the likelihood of disease and illness, physical activity contributes to current and future health. Learning how to fit different forms of physical activity into our schedules can improve overall mood and help support mental health.

Action Planning

Identifying an area you want to work on allows for a sense of satisfaction as you make steps towards completing goals. Establishing timelines and frequently checking in on progress allows for strategies to be adjusted and refined as you pursue healthy outcomes. Over time the practice of following an action plan increases self-awareness and promotes positive coping strategies to deal with stress.

Students can book a Peer Wellness Coaching appointment, and visit the Student Wellness Services website to learn more about the program.

Mental health in the spotlight

Mental Health Promotion Week offers virtual events and initiatives to support mental health at Queen’s.

Mental Health Promotion Week offers virtual events and initiatives to support mental health at Queen’s.
During Mental Health Promotion Week supports and resources available to students, staff, and faculty at Queen's University is highlighted while also raising awareness about mental health and stigma.

Queen’s University’s annual Mental Health Promotion Week is a time to reflect on personal mental health and work towards creating a community of care. Built to surround Bell Let’s Talk Day (Jan. 26), Mental Health Promotion Week aims to address the stigma associated with mental illness while raising awareness of supports and resources available to students, staff, and faculty. The week-long event takes place Jan. 24-28 with various initiatives to increase social connections and improve emotional, physical, and mental health. 

Our goal is to spotlight some of the amazing mental health promotion efforts at Queen’s, especially the work done by student leaders and student staff,” says Kate Humphrys, Health Promotion Coordinator, Student Wellness Services (SWS).We hope this week helps to keep the conversation going on this crucial topic all year long.”

Postsecondary education can be a stressful time for students, particularly with changes to learning formats and public health guidelines. As the university enters its third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health education and advocacy continue to be an important focus at Queen’s. Encouraging open, respectful, and inclusive conversations, Mental Health Promotion Week is about feeling connected even during times of social distancing and remote learning.

“We know mental health is critical to our overall well-being and sometimes we can focus on personal care activities that help maintain good mental health but other times, it may not be enough,” says Beth Blackett, Health Promotion Special Projects, Student Wellness Services When someone is struggling, they often need a community of care that can help them find the necessary supports and resources. Mental Health Promotion week helps highlight some of those supports and reminds everyone that it is OK to talk about mental health, reach out when we need help and most importantly to support each other.”

Working to create an environment where everyone feels safe and accepted is paramount to ensuring everyone can achieve their full potential as healthy, resilient, and inspired members of the Queen’s community. Acknowledging the intersectionality between mental health and other areas of wellness, Student Wellness Services, along with various student-led groups and departments on campus, has created a number of virtual challenges, events, and workshops designed to stimulate discussion and social engagement.

Events and Initiatives

  • This year, in collaboration with the Queen's Student Mental Health Network, the Campus Wellness Project will be announcing nominees for Classroom Champions for Mental Health. Classroom Champions recognize professors, instructors, and TAs who create learning environments where student mental health is valued and supported.
  • Participate in the Get Active Challenge by registering for a virtual fitness class at the ARC, hosted by Athletics and Recreation. 
  • Get involved in the Rest & Relax Challenge by booking a Peer Wellness Coaching session or Professional Healthy Lifestyle appointment to learn strategies to improve sleep patterns.  Attend a workshop on how to create a customized self-care plan sharing evidence-based strategies to manage stress, or learn how to support someone who is struggling by enrolling in a seminar on identifying and responding to students in distress or crisis.  Find your safe-space through trauma informed writing exercises and guided mediation.
  • Grab your paper and writing utensils and create some beautiful affirmation art with the Queen's Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Services. Connect with LGBQT community members by joining discussions about queer survivorship, hosted in collaboration with Sexual Assault Centre Kingston. Finding Your Joy Through Music encourages BIPOC students to come together and share their favourite songs from their playlist. Take a professionally-facilitated mindfulness session to visualize and promote positive self-growth. 
  • Visit the virtual photo booth available on Bell Let’s Talk Day, and take part in a digital scavenger hunt focusing on BIPOC resources. Drop by one of the various in-person locations on campus to pick-up Bell swag, including toques and speech bubbles. Go online and download the Bell Let’s Talk Tool Kit and see how you can further support mental health.
  • Nourish yourself by registering and picking-up a free Fresh Food Box containing all the produce and key ingredients needed to prepare a healthy meal, or check out the Food Access Resource website for more tips on where to find healthy, affordable foods. Join in on Stories Spark Change featuring conversations with internationally renowned author Roxane Gay and best-selling author Eternity Martis on healing and sexual violence.
  • Embrace nature by exploring the outdoors in the Get Outside challenge.

Learn more about the virtual events being offered across campus on the Mental Health Promotion Week webpage. Events will continue to be added throughout the week.

Additional Resources

Queen’s students can access support from the AMS Peer Support Centre, and  Student Wellness Services Mental Health Services website.  Additional resources include Empower Me, a 24/7 phone service that allows students to connect with qualified counselors, consultants, and life coaches for a variety of issues, and TAO (Therapy Assistance Online), an online, mobile friendly library of engaging, interactive pathways that promote wellness.

Nominations for Margaret Hooey Governance Award due Jan. 28.

The nomination period deadline for the Margaret Hooey Governance Award is Jan. 28, 2022.

The award, established in 2018 by the estate of Margaret Hooey (LLD’02), the long-time secretary of Queen’s, recognizes a student enrolled in any degree program who has made an outstanding contribution to the good governance of the university through work with Senate or any committee of the Senate.

Nominations can be submitted to the University Secretariat at senate@queensu.ca.

During her more than 30 years at Queen’s, Margaret Hooey, was a valued adviser to four principals and their administrations, and a trusted mentor to students, staff, faculty and trustees. She played a key role in shaping Queen’s modern governances system and was an advocate for the unique form of student government. More than her role as an administrator, she was viewed by student leaders as a mentor and friend. For her contributions and dedication Dr. Hooey received the Queen’s Distinguished Service Award (1992), the John Orr Award (1998), and an honorary doctorate (2002).

Application forms and further information are available on the University Secretariat and Legal Counsel website.

Senate committee vacancies now posted

The University Secretariat invites all faculty, staff, and students to put their names forward for membership on Senate committees. Senate is Queen’s highest academic governing body and its committees deal with issues related to academic programs and their review, educational equity, residences, student aid, the library, and research.

All existing vacancies are listed on the vacancies page. The application deadline is Feb. 25, 2022.

  • Committee terms are usually for two years, with the number of meetings per year depending on the particular committee’s area of responsibility.
  • Most terms will start Sept. 1, 2022, but any exceptions are listed next to the committee name on the vacancies page.
  • Note that Individuals holding an appointment at the level of Associate Dean, or equivalent, and above (e.g., Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Vice-Principal, Associate Vice-Principal, Dean, Vice-Dean, University Librarian, Associate University Librarian, University Archivist, Associate University Archivist) are not eligible to serve as a faculty senator or as a faculty member on a Senate committee.
  • An informational panel hosted by the Senate Governance and Nominating Committee will be held on Feb. 3, 2022 at 1 pm and all applicants are invited to attend.

Senate committees discuss issues of broad interest to the academic community and make recommendations on policy and practice that are essential to the university's operations and evolution.  Committee work allows you to directly affect the way Queen's functions as a teaching and research institution, and as a community of scholars, students, and staff.

Contact senate@queensu.ca if you have any questions.

Efforts to advance equity initiatives at Queen’s make positive strides

EDII and TRC Reports 2022
Queen's University has released two new reports on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigenization (EDII), and TRC Task Force Implementation.

The Queen’s community has spoken clearly about its desire to build an inclusive and welcoming campus community. Two new reports are now available that highlight the progress made during the 2020-21 year toward the goals on equity, diversity, inclusion, and Indigenization at Queen’s.

Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigenization Annual Report, 2020-21

TRC Task Force Implementation Report - Year Four

Commitment to EDII

The Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigenization Annual Report underlines the commitment made by Queen’s Senior Administration in August 2020 to bolster an inclusive and anti-racist community through its support of the Declaration of Commitment to Address Systemic Racism. The commitment includes 11 areas of focus aimed at understanding and addressing systemic racism and exclusion on campus, strengthening support resources and policies, and closing representation gaps.

“Queen’s, like so many institutions across Canada, must come to terms with its colonial past and acknowledge that the lens we use to view our operations too often discounts those who may have been denied any voice in creating them,” Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane,  wrote in the introduction of the report. “And so, while we must continue working to address this challenge, I am pleased that we are making strides.”

The progress toward building a more diverse campus is highlighted in several key successes over the past year. In 2020, Queen’s hired women, racialized, and Indigenous faculty members at a rate that exceeded their workforce availability. In the 2020-21 academic year, students who identified as racialized or as having a disability had the highest undergraduate retention rates within the university, at 95.9 per cent and 96 per cent respectively.

Additionally, Queen’s has continued to embed EDII and accessibility into its academic programs, such as the work underway to strengthen equity, diversity, inclusion, global engagement, and Indigenization in Queen’s Degree Level Expectations.

To gain a more robust understanding of the campus climate, the Student Experiences Survey was distributed to the campus community during the 2021 Winter Term. The survey is a wide-ranging initiative to understand systemic racism, exclusionary and discriminatory behaviours, and sexual violence on campus. Over 5,400 students responded to the questionnaire and reflected on their experiences over the previous year. The outcomes confirm that while Queen’s has made progress in many areas, there is still more to do.

Truth and Reconciliation Implementation Report

The Truth and Reconciliation Task Force Implementation Report – Year Four delivers an important update on Indigenization and reconciliation efforts at Queen’s amid the continued discovery of large, unmarked burial sites at former residential schools across Canada, as well as nationwide conversations around Indigenous identity.

“The importance of truth telling remains a vital tool for Indigenous peoples in regaining our power through our own stories and our own voices,” Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation), wrote in the report. “Attentive listening is required to fully understand what is required for meaningful reconciliation to take place. Once again, I would like to encourage everyone to think deeply, be bold, and consider the inclusion of decolonizing and Indigenizing work within the curricula, within our governance systems, and within our work of breaking down barriers to access on many levels for Indigenous inclusion at Queen’s.”

The report reflects multiple advancements in relation to the original 25 recommendations from the Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force (TRCTF).  One recommendation was to increase access to Queen’s for Indigenous students. In 2020-21, first-year undergraduate enrolment of Indigenous students increased by 20 per cent, while the number of first-year undergraduate applications from self-identified Indigenous students increased by eight per cent.

During the 2021 academic year, there were 10 Elder meet-and-greets and education sessions. Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Rahswahérha Mark Green has led monthly Talking Circles with the Queen’s Indigenous community. This forum allows Indigenous students, faculty, and staff to gather as a community to support each other. The initiative aligns with the TRCTF’s recommendation to incorporate Indigenous languages and knowledge into the Queen’s ethos.

Indigenous-focused education and research are growing areas of strength for the university and a priority for continued growth. Work is underway in this area across faculties and schools to decolonize curricula and increase Indigenous-focused courses, which addresses TRCTF Recommendation 21.

The Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS) developed a case for support related to Indigenous initiatives across the university, including language and culture courses, writers in residence program in English, Indigenous Creative Writer in English Language and Literature, and establishing a pan-university Indigenous Community Research Fund.

Additionally, Indigenous legal issues are taught as components of the mandatory first-year program to all students. As part of the FAS Strategic Framework 2021-2026, the faculty will launch a second phase of its curricular reform that will focus more squarely on Indigenous law and Indigenous perspectives. The faculty is exploring innovative approaches to teaching and learning about Indigenous law, including ‘on the land’ teaching and learning classes in Indigenous communities. Queen’s Law presently offers upper-year electives in Aboriginal Law, Aboriginal Child Welfare, and First Nations Negotiations.

The Centre for Teaching and Learning, a member of the Academic Diversity Sub-Council of the University Council on Anti-Racism and Equity (UCARE), has been collaborating to introduce elements of the Queen’s Revised Learning Outcomes Framework in ways that facilitate instructors’ ability to identify meaningful learning outcomes related to both Indigenous content and Indigenous ways of knowing and doing. The Queen’s University Quality Assurance Processes (QUQAPS) and self-study templates are also being revised in ways to support programmatic changes toward Indigenization.

For more information and resources on EDII efforts at Queen’s, please visit the Inclusive Queen’s site.

On-campus academic activities cancelled today due to weather

Only essential areas on campus are operating. 

Due to COVID-19, Queen’s university has already been operating with most academic and operational activities occurring remotely. 

As the result of the current and forecasted weather conditions, the few remaining on-campus academic activities are cancelled. In addition, the university will only operate with a reduced level of service.  This means:

  • Instructors with classes on campus/in-person will determine whether they will continue remote or cancel the class.  Instructors will provide further details.
  • Remote classes will continue as scheduled.
  • Employees working remotely should continue to do so.
  • Employees that are scheduled to come to campus should work remotely if possible. 
  • Only essential areas should be operational on campus. Managers of these areas should determine the level of staffing that is needed to keep these operations functioning. 

More details on the University’s inclement weather process and a list of essential areas can be found on the Inclement Weather webpage

If you are required to travel to campus, please allow extra time and proceed with caution.

Queen’s remembers Art Cockfield

Professor and Associate Dean (Academic Policy) in the Faculty of Law was an innovative teacher and one of the world’s leading tax law scholars.

Art Cockfield, Professor and Associate Dean (Academic Policy) in the Faculty of Law, was an innovative teacher and one of the world’s leading tax law scholars.
Art Cockfield, Professor and Associate Dean (Academic Policy) in the Faculty of Law, was an innovative teacher and one of the world’s leading tax law scholars.

The Queen’s community is remembering Art Cockfield, Professor and Associate Dean (Academic Policy) in the Faculty of Law, who died on Sunday, Jan. 9. He was 54.

Dr. Cockfield was one of the world’s leading tax law scholars, a policy consultant, and an innovative instructor.

After completing his undergraduate studies at Western University, Cockfield attended Queen’s Law, earning his LLB in 1993. He would later earn a Master of the Science of Law (JSM) and Doctor of the Science of Law (JSD) from Stanford University.

Dr. Cockfield returned to Queen’s as a faculty member in 2001 as a Queen’s National Scholar.

“For the many, many graduates of our law school who had the great fortune to learn law from Professor Cockfield, and for Art’s former classmates, this news will be very difficult to understand and process. Art was a mainstay of our law school,” says Mark Walters, Dean, Faculty of Law. “Art was one of the world’s leading tax law scholars and his work on comparative and international tax law was truly innovative and extremely influential. He was a loyal and dedicated teacher who cared deeply for his students. Art was cherished as a mentor and a friend to so many of us.”  

Prior to joining Queen’s, Cockfield worked as an articling student and associate lawyer for Goodmans LLP in Toronto. He has worked at the University of West Indies in Barbados and at U.S. law schools, most recently as a Fulbright Visiting Chair in Policy Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

During his career, Dr. Cockfield served as a legal and policy consultant to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United Nations, the Department of Justice, the Department of Finance, the Advisory Panel on Canada’s System of International Taxation, the National Judicial Institute, the Office of the Auditor General of Canada and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

To learn more about Dr. Cockfield and his impact at the university, read this article published by Queen's Law.

A family obituary is also available online.

Queen’s community remembers Tom Bradshaw

Tom Bradshaw
Tom Bradshaw

The Queen’s community is remembering Tom Bradshaw, the long-time manager of the School of Computing, who died on Dec. 29, following a battle with cancer. He was 66.

Bradshaw had a connection with the university spanning nearly 50 years, first arriving at Queen’s in 1974 as a student and graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics in 1978. He would then join the Department of Computing and Information Science in September 1979. On the systems side he began with punch cards and guided the department and then the School of Computing all the way through Unix servers, virtual machines, the rise of Linux, Internet of Things, cloud computing, and machine learning.

“The School of Computing has lost one of its foundational members. For 42 years, Tom was instrumental in the development of the School of Computing to what it is now,” says Hossam Hassanein, Director, School of Computing. “Throughout his years of service, Tom was always there to help, support and take action. He always went over and beyond to serve the school. I will miss him and learned a lot from him. We will continue to work hard for the school as Tom would have wanted us to.”

While continuing his work, Bradshaw also earned his Master’s degree in Computer Science 1987.

“Tom helped guide the department into the School of Computing and managed generations of staff,” says Ben Hall, a colleague and friend for 20 years. “He helped his colleagues through countless crises, both personal and professional, and has done much to establish and maintain the amazing culture of the School of Computing.

“Tom’s impact here has been quiet but profound and will be felt for many years to come. We have all benefited greatly from his presence. He wouldn’t stop helping despite being diagnosed with cancer, and even when that forced his retirement.”

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