By Brenna Mackay

Carleton University hosted the first town hall event on Sept. 22, 2020 to gather feedback from the community on recommendations that will inform the development of an institutional Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Action Plan.

The virtual event was well-attended, with about 70 members of the community participating. The session began with opening remarks from Michael Charles, assistant vice-president and university advisor of Equity and Inclusive Communities, President Benoit-Antoine Bacon and Jerry Tomberlin, provost and vice-president (Academic).

Charles thanked all who attended and noted that the town hall is an exciting moment in support of the draft EDI Action Plan.

Michael F. Charles

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

“Of course, we follow on the Strategic Integrated Plan (SIP) and another a number of other types of documents that we have been intensely engaged with over the last couple of years,” Charles said.

“It also happens to coincide with this period of COVID-19 and racial unrest where social and educational disparities have become acute.  As such, there could not be a more critical time to have a fulsome conversation about human rights, equity, diversity (and) inclusion at Carleton,” he added.

“Today is a really important conversation,” said 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.”

Bacon noted that Carleton is fortunate to have a diverse community and a history of striving for inclusion. That being said, it’s important to 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.

President Benoit-Antoine Bacon

President Benoit-Antoine Bacon

“We’ve made progress this year, but there is no question that much remains to be done,” he explained.

“It’s our shared responsibility to always seek to do better and to be part of the solution.”

Tomberlin underlined the EDI Action Plan is the result of consultation and collaboration between the Equity and Inclusive Communities Advisory Group and the community over several months. He also highlighted the consistency between the EDI Action Plan and the SIP.

“It shows that this has been a part of the values that our university encompasses as part of its DNA,” Tomberlin stated. He added that this process requires balancing the need for community consultation and the urgency of taking action.

On Track to Boost Indigenous Initiatives

Jerry Tomberlin, Provost and Vice-President (Academic)

Following welcome remarks, attendees engaged in small group 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 their thoughts on which recommendations resonated with them, what might be missing and guidance to the advisory group moving forward.

Feedback that was shared at the event will be brought back to the advisory group as they work toward finalizing the EDI Action Plan. The next EDI Town Hall will be held on Oct. 14.  All community members are encouraged to register at the earliest possible time as the size of discussion groups will be capped.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in , ,
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