CD#28 – A progressive Castle community

“Excellence at Queen’s involves intellectual diversity of perspectives which, in turn, requires cultural diversity, socio-economic diversity, and racial diversity.” – Daniel Woolf

In April of 2017, the Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI) published a report, identifying key priorities and suggesting measures that would ensure that lasting change could be effected at Queen’s regarding the issues of anti-racism, diversity and inclusion. This small group, established by Daniel Woolf, included representatives from the student body, staff, and faculty. It was tasked with reviewing past reports on these issues, and examining how and why implementation of their recommendations may have fallen short.

Principal Daniel Woolf said, “We must view this as a process which requires constant re-evaluation. Our ability to remain a top-tier university will depend on our ability to embrace change – not because we are under intense pressure and scrutiny, but because it is the right thing to do.”

The BISC, in turn, must also constantly re-evaluate its own policies and guidelines, to ensure that we live and work in a progressive campus community. To that end, the VP’s Advisory Committee on Equity, Inclusion and Diversity was established, to build upon the recommendations of the University (BISC) Inclusion Committee Report issued in August of 2017. The Committee is responsible for coordinating, reviewing and reporting on the progress of the promotion of access, equality, diversity and inclusion on the BISC campus.

The 2018 VP’s Advisory Committee on Equity, Inclusion and Diversity comprises:

  • Roxy Denniston-Stewart (Chair) & Melissa Burke – Student Services
  • Ben Martin & Diana Gilchrist – Faculty
  • Caroline Harber & Jackie Argyrou – Staff
  • Sara-Maya Kaba & Chloe Smith – Students

The committee, which will complete their work over a three year period, has been asked to submit an annual report by the beginning of May with recommendations on priorities, ways to promote the streaming of relevant policies, protocols and processes, identification of opportunities for collaboration, and ways to foster potential synergies, both internal and external to the university.

The purpose of this article is to make everyone in the Castle community aware that you may be approached by the committee members in the coming weeks as they compile their report, but the Castle Drum would also actively encourage readers to seek out your department’s representatives if you have any pertinent feedback on your experiences of these issues, or suggestions for further study.

Ben Martin told the Castle Drum, “The committee provides recommendations to SMT, which in turn will allow them to make informed decisions on issues of equity, inclusion and diversity. Equity is not a word commonly used in the UK however. Perhaps a better way to think of the committee’s focus, is that it is concerned with the concept of equality – ensuring equality of opportunity for all. A prime example would be making sure we are communicating our scholarship opportunities and financial support packages effectively and offering the BISC as an opportunity to all students, regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds.”

Diana Gilchrist added, “I’m pleased to be involved in the process for a second year. I’m confident the report will celebrate our successes, as well as provide the necessary recommendations to ensure that the BISC is inclusive and diverse as a community. On the back of our last report, we introduced a robust policy on issues of personal harassment. This time around, I think our next steps will be to establish our initial priorities, draw up policies to address them and then most importantly of all, communicate them properly to staff so that everyone understands exactly why they are in place.”

You can download the full PICRDI report here and a copy of the 2017 BISC University Inclusion Committee Report  here.

»A cymbal of equality since January 2017«

CD#27 – Walking in our visitors’ shoes

Image of Castle courtesy of Murryn MillerSo Spring is here again, and Herstmonceux Castle is ready to open to public once more. This Saturday, 3rd March, will be the first day of the new season.

In celebration of this event, why not refamiliarize yourself with the visitor’s view of the Castle, with a stroll around the gardens and grounds? There is plenty to see as plants start poking their leaves through the soil and animals begin to shake off their winter lethargy – although many have perhaps dived for cover again in this recent cold spell!

And while you’re stretching your legs, why not help Dave Brown in his creation of the Interpretours app? You may remember that Dave did a presentation back in November in which he highlighted how he was creating an interactive map of the Castle for visitors to access on their mobile phones. The project includes identifying points of interest (POIs) around the gardens and grounds, describing them, and creating routes to guide visitors around them in a logical order or, for the more random among us, in any order desired.

If you fancy getting involved in this project (and Dave is calling upon absolutely anyone who is reading this article and has a love of the Castle: staff, faculty, students, friends, visitors…), here are just some of the ways in which you can:

  • Auditing the list of POIs, to spot any that may have been missed;
  • Correcting and updating the descriptions of the POIs. (If you are a seasoned or even budding writer this is your chance to include your own stories about the Castle and its features, including providing photos, documents, and other resources.);
  • Researching individual POIs. (Are you a natural investigator and like rummaging through paperwork? If so, this may be an interesting challenge, and may involve hunting through the BISC Archive!);
  • Field-testing tours (but only if you have an Android phone);
  • Sharing anecdotes, trivia, stories, childhood reminiscences (and even gossip) about the Castle and estate – it’s the human element which makes the Castle’s history after all. History is brought to life by the stories of the people who have lived it, so now is an excellent opportunity to share your stories.

If you want to find out more about the current POIs, the information Dave has gathered to date, wish to become involved in the project or if you have any questions about how to get involved, contact Dave direct on dbrown@brocku.ca. He’ll be more than happy welcome you to the Interpretours project.

And while we are on the subject of helping the Castle in its tourism endeavours, why not pick up a handful of Herstmonceux Castle Gardens & Grounds leaflets from Castle reception and distribute them liberally at your favourite haunts (or just the doctor’s and dentist’s, if all else fails)? It would be great to raise the profile of the Castle among the local and not-so-local community.

Finally, for those of you on social media, please follow and share posts on Facebook. Sir Roger now has his own page (and if you don’t know who ‘Sir Roger’ is, simply check out his page…).

»Welcoming visitors since January 2017«