By Brenna Mackay

On Oct. 14, 2020 Carleton University hosted a virtual town hall to gather feedback from students on recommendations that will inform an Institutional Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Action Plan.

The session kicked off with opening remarks from Assistant Vice-President Michael Charles, university advisor in Equity and Inclusive Communities, as well as President Benoit-Antoine Bacon and Suzanne Blanchard, vice-president (Students and Enrolment).

Assistant Vice-President and University Advisor for EIC Michael F. Charles

Assistant Vice-President and University Advisor for EIC Michael F. Charles

Charles began with acknowledging that Carleton is situated on the unceded and un-surrendered territory of the Algonquin Nation and reflected on the value of exploring the relationship between principles of reconciliation and EDI.

“It’s increasingly important that we allow reconciliation to inform our thinking about equity, diversity, inclusion and look at that connection, and what it means in our context,” said Charles.

Bacon thanked attendees for taking time out of their busy schedules of courses, work and family obligations to provide their thoughts on how we can create a campus where everyone feels welcome and supported.

Carleton’s EDI Action Plan was developed alongside Carleton’s Strategic Integrated Plan (SIP) and other institutional documents which have intensely engaged the community in recent years. This work was underway prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and global racial unrest.

“These strategic actions will build upon efforts to integrate EDI into the core activities and the academic mission of the university to accelerate positive institutional and societal outcomes,” said Charles.

President Benoit-Antoine Bacon

President Benoit-Antoine Bacon

“We’re here because we believe that by working together, strategically and in a sustained manner, over time, we can make our university the very best that it can be,” said Bacon.

He noted that Carleton is fortunate to have a diverse community and a history of striving for inclusion. But he said we must acknowledge that universities are an extension of the broader world, and Carleton is not immune to racism, discrimination and other forms of harassment and injustice.

“We’ve made progress this year, but there is no question that much remains to be done if we want to fully embody our values of inclusion at Carleton,” he explained.

“We want to be a place where everybody can be themselves, fully belong and fully contribute to our shared mission.”

Blanchard underlined how the EDI Action Plan is the result of consultation and collaboration between the Equity and Inclusive Communities Advisory Group and community feedback over several months. She also highlighted the connection between the EDI Action Plan and Carleton’s SIP, both of which share the values and history of the university.

“The plan is a great start. But, of course, we have to ensure that it really has input from every area of our community,” said Blanchard, adding that the process requires balancing community consultation with the urgent need for action.

Vice-President (Students and Enrolment) and University Registrar Suzanne Blanchard

Vice-President (Students and Enrolment) Suzanne Blanchard

Following welcome remarks, Charles offered a brief summary of the EDI Action plan timeline, how it relates to other university plans and how it will move from a document into transformational institutional change.

Students then split into small breakout sessions based on specific themes to allow for focused, thoughtful conversation and feedback. The themes included:

  • Leadership
  • Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • Research
  • Student Support
  • Representation and Outreach
  • Culture
  • Planning, Infrastructure and Reporting

Participants were able to offer thoughts on which recommendations resonated with them, what might be missing and how the advisory group is moving forward.

The feedback will be taken back to the advisory group as it works toward finalizing the EDI Action Plan later this year.

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Thursday, October 15, 2020 in ,
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