(This article is from the WLUFA Advocate April 2017 5.2.)
By Laurie Jacklin , Society, Culture & Environment & Michele Kramer, President.
The issue of equity has been on most faculty association agendas for quite some time, but it has only been in the fairly recent past that equity has been closely scrutinized as something that needs addressing beyond pay-scales and gender. WLUFA is proud to be among a very short list of associations that have decided to institute an Equity and Diversity Committee as part of their association committee roster. The idea was to have a committee that was different from other University-driven equity and diversity committees in that this committee would find ways to foster and support, specifically, our diverse faculty complement. Additionally, a WLUFA Equity and Diversity Committee would be charged with looking into how the language of our collective agreements themselves may or may not produce barriers to an equitable workplace.
Naively, we believed that the way forward was fairly clear but, as many of you know, putting this committee into place has not been without its difficulties. One of the greatest of these was the (justified) criticism that our newly-constituted Equity and Diversity Committee didn’t seem all that “diverse”. Of course, WLUFA had its challenges here: of the approximately one thousand faculty members registered with WLUFA, only a very small handful offered their services –and so the Committee was convened mainly by acclamation. It was, however, this acclamation, and the criticisms of it, that lead to the committee’s inaugural town-hall mediated by York University’s Carl James which, overall, has been seen as an enormous success.
Though the town hall was originally called in order to discuss how, exactly, the WLUFA E&D Committee should come together, its focus quickly shifted to why the committee really needs to be an essential part of our Association’s mandate. Numerous faculty members stepped up to the microphone in order to discuss their (often painful) struggles and the need for change, rather than to debate the details about the structure of the committee. For WLUFA, this fact alone reinforces the notion that it’s not who is on the committee that matters, it’s that the committee is seen as a needed resource for WLUFA members.
According to Laurie Jacklin, a member of the WLUFA Equity and Diversity Committee, the WLUFA E&D members are now, “invigorated and enthusiastic about the success of our Town Hall meeting. We also realize the enormity of the initiative(s) required to transform WLU attitudes, policies, and cultures into a positive environment that is welcoming for all faculty, regardless of our race/ethnicity, gender identity/expressions, age, (dis) ability, creed, sex, sexual orientation, and employment status”.
WLUFA is looking forward to hearing about the recommendations that our Equity and Diversity Committee brings to our Executive table.