By Johanne Adam
The University of Ottawa is stepping up efforts this year to become a model of diversity and inclusion. President Jacques Frémont, who has made this a priority, has put in place an ad hoc committee that aims to eliminate all obstacles to inclusion within the University community, and to make diversity a criterion of excellence, so that the University of Ottawa becomes an example in this regard.
Professor Caroline Andrew is serving as chair of the Working Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, which includes professors, researchers, students and support staff. Its mandate is to paint a picture of the current situation on campus when it comes to inclusion, among professors, students and support staff. In particular, the committee seeks to identify obstacles to inclusion.
“Canada’s population is very diverse, and will be increasingly so in the years to come,” Andrew says. “It is therefore essential to reflect this diversity within the University community, but currently, this is not the case. As I see it, it’s clearly in the University’s interest to work on a strategy that will make it truly inclusive within, I hope, the next five to 10 years.”
The committee’s work is primarily aimed at prohibited grounds of discrimination outlined in the Ontario Human Rights Code, such as age, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, creed or marital status.
The committee is beginning its work this month with large-scale data collection, through a survey of members of the University community. A total of 36 students, professors and support staff will be recruited to take part in one-on-one semi-structured interviews dealing with diversity and inclusion at the University.
Then, in April, a survey will be sent to all members of the University community. “The interviews and the survey will allow us to better understand the perspectives of students, support staff and professors on diversity and inclusion,” Andrew says.
A report to be completed this summer will propose goals for the University to meet, along with concrete actions, to create a truly inclusive environment.