As reported back in August, McGill’s Social Equity and Diversity Education Office (SEDE) has undergone some important changes this fall term to strengthen McGill’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). Recently, however, some posts on social media have called for a halt to McGill’s “closure” of the SEDE office – but SEDE isn’t closing.
“These communications seem premised on a misunderstanding,” says Prof. Fabrice Labeau, Interim Deputy Provost (Student Life & Learning), who offers three points of clarification. “First, SEDE is not closing. Second, our recent initiatives are strengthening and enhancing, not diluting, EDI at McGill. Third, all staff within SEDE remain at McGill and are working in closer proximity with colleagues and offices where their work can benefit from greater resources and have an increased impact in advancing EDI at the University.”
As Angela Campbell, Associate Provost (Equity & Academic Policies), told the Reporter in August, “The community engagement focus of SEDE [remains] firmly in place, as we simultaneously bolster our efforts on employment equity, Indigenous success, and preventing and responding to harassment and discrimination on our campuses.”
Recent efforts to those ends include:
- McGill’s three equity education advisors are now more aligned with anti-harassment and anti-discrimination work and with the initiatives led by the Special Advisor to the Provost on Indigenous Initiatives. The advisors also remain actively engaged in the work that they have always done at McGill.
- McGill’s family care coordinator is still at the SEDE office but will soon move to Student Services, given the nexus between this position and the overarching mandate of Student Services. “The coordinator’s work will not change,” says Labeau. “In fact, we see it bearing the capacity to burgeon within Student Services, given the potential to liaise with other branches of that office that students with dependent/family care responsibilities may require.” Further, he says, the family care coordinator will benefit from the new Rossy Wellness Hub (scheduled to open in 2019), which will provide more integrated services for students with dependent and family care responsibilities.
- The former community partnerships associate has assumed a new role: employment equity administrator. The new position is in a key priority area, says Labeau, and draws upon knowledge and experience gained as community partnerships associate “to improve access to employment at McGill to diverse groups, and develop mentorship opportunities for McGill students with diverse identities who may seek career opportunities at our University following their graduation.”
- The community outreach and engagement work that SEDE has carried out will remain firmly in place and will, in the new year, be carried out within Enrolment Services, so that these activities may connect more directly into efforts to recruit and support students from underrepresented groups.
Labeau highlights the creation of several new positions at McGill during the last two years, notably: the Senior Employment Equity Advisor, Senior Equity & Inclusion Advisor, and Equity Facilitator. The Equity Facilitator is working with the Office of the Dean of Students and is reinvigorating Residence Hall Programming, which is now receiving more resources than in the past. Taken together, these initiatives have been able to increase education and awareness of EDI among students, staff and faculty.
“McGill has significantly committed itself to EDI and enhanced associated resources in recent years,” says Labeau. “Our goal is to strengthen equity education and support, as well as community outreach and engagement; all of the developments undertaken are unequivocally aimed at this end. The equity team at McGill is working hard, and is committed to ensuring that the McGill community is one in which all students, faculty and staff feel welcome, included, and capable of realizing their full potential for success.”