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#26 – The CD gives you the full S.P on ‘Me to We’

The Castle Drum is proud to announce a series of leadership and educational activities for students in the run up to We Day in London on March 7th, 2018. A familiar organization to many Canadians, for the uninitiated, the Me to We Foundation is an innovative social enterprise that aims to create sustainable change in disadvantaged areas of the world by shifting from “me” thinking to “we” acting. It is part of a family of organizations, that along with WE Charity hopes to empower each of us to make the world a better place.

In 2016, charismatic Me to We ambassador Spencer West visited the Castle and spoke to the student body about climbing to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro using a wheelchair and his bare hands. It was a truly inspirational address, although the Castle had admired the work of the Me to We Foundation for many years before, as many of our students are involved with its voluntary projects prior to joining us.

Me to We organizes unique volunteer trips that allow young people and adults to participate in health, education and economic development projects abroad. The vision of the organization is to empower youth to contribute to change in a positive way, and there is obvious synergy between the organization’s values and the BISC’s own ethos of providing students with creditable community engagement projects that will enhance their learning experience while they are in the UK.

Volunteering in the local community empowers BISC students to be proactive, taking responsibility for their own learning, whilst seeking activities that will provide them with transferable skills such a critical thinking, team-work and a sense of social justice. This term, BISC students have organized volunteer placements at Herstmonceux Primary School, The 1st Herstmonceux Scout Troop and Eastbourne Cats’ Protection & Adoption Centre, to name but a few.

Jamila Skinner, the BISC’s Community Engagement SLC, successfully applied for 16 tickets to We Day in London by outlining her proposal to ask students to ‘earn’ their ticket for the event through community engagement activities. To apply, students have been asked to demonstrate community spirit in any capacity including, but not limited to student government, peer health educating, or volunteering. All applicants must have committed a minimum of 10 hours of service in their chosen field to be considered by the BISC’s Me to We Committee.

The BISC’s 2018 Me to We Committee

(From left to right: Natalie Vukusic- Global Events Rep, Danielle Lee – Communications Rep, Jamila Skinner – SLC Community Engagement Rep, Emily Duncan- Educational Awareness Rep, Sara-Maya Kaba- Local Events Rep).

A series of events at the Castle  has been planned to raise awareness of We Day and the work of the Me to We Foundation. On February 6th for example, students will highlight the struggles of obtaining clean water in the developing world and relief countries by filling a 40lb Jerrycan and asking fellow students to walk just a few yards whilst carrying it. This ‘Water Walk’ will give students a mere inkling of the physical effort required to fetch water from wells and watering holes from several miles away in a standard 5-gallon container.

The walking theme will continue in the lead up to International Women’s Week, which begins on March 9th. Students of all genders will be invited to walk the 5 minutes from their accommodation at Bader Hall, to the Dining Hall at the Castle, in a pair of high heels!

The BISC is keen that students’ commitment to volunteering and community engagement on and off campus will continue long after the We Day celebrations. Volunteering remains a key component of the BISC’s experiential learning program. Jamila Skinner, the SLC lead on student community engagement said,

“After the students’ experience with We Day, we will expect them to reflect on their experience in a critical manner by completing a journal entry for Student Services. This will allow students to think about their involvement with the organization and how they can extend their learning beyond a few events. We want them to be able to apply their learning outside of the classroom and in everyday life.”

For more on We Day, click here

»Championing the extra-curricular since January 2017«

CD#24 – New Scholar in Residence

A familiar face around the Castle, Christopher Bennett joins us this term as our Scholar in Residence.

“Building on my strong experience of eating in the Dining Hall, I’m hoping to contribute to Castle life by providing some perspective on current political events. Thanks to a series of dramatic electoral results – Brexit and Trump are obvious examples; less well-known examples, at least in the English-speaking world, might include Syriza in Greece or the ÖVP in Austria – there is a glut of material. I’ll try to be as accessible as possible, holding office hours and parking myself at a cafeteria table every so often for some informal chats.

The contribution to Castle life that I am most excited to make is undoubtedly my Bullshit lecture (keep an eye out for the quality posters). There is plenty of hand-wringing on both sides of the Atlantic about the tone of political debate and the sorts of reasons to which politicians of all stripes appeal. Thankfully, significant philosophical attention has been paid to the concept of bullshit. This term, I’ll be giving a talk on the subject that hopefully will give staff and students some food for thought!

Scholar in Residence – Dr. Christopher Bennett

On a more mundane note, I am a Queen’s alumnus myself, having finished a BA and MA there, so I remember quite a bit about the various departments across the social sciences and humanities and in fact took many of the classes that are still offered today. If anyone would like to discuss some of the options available to them, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line, or come by my office.”

Having just finished his PhD at Warwick University, Christopher will be splitting his time between his teaching commitments at Warwick and a series of events planned here at the Castle. If you find your interest piqued by any of his talks, are thinking of applying to graduate schools here in the UK, or would simply like to discuss political issues from Palestinian-Israeli relations, to supply-sided interventions in renewable energy markets, please feel free to drop by Office 209, or email him at c_bennett@bisc.queensu.ac.uk. He’ll be happy to talk!

»Excusing political debate at the dinner table since January 2017«

CD#20 – Honouring the Fallen

On Remembrance Sunday, students from the BISC took a trip across the English Channel to Calais, to visit the nearby town of Arras and the surrounding Douai Plains. The Battle of Vimy Ridge, the bloody military engagement that came to define the Battle of Arras, took place there between Easter Monday 9th and 12th of April 1917.

The Canadian National Vimy Memorial – Vimy Ridge

It is a battle of considerable significance for Canadians as it was the first occasion that all four Canadian divisions, made up of troops drawn from all parts of their country, had fought as one.

The unified Canadian forces stormed a steep escarpment that had been under the control of the German 6th Army since 1914. It was a literal uphill battle against well dug-in defences and by the time the Canadian Corps had wrested control of the ridge, they had suffered some 10,602 casualties: 3,598 killed in action and 7,004 wounded.

Today, the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, Canada’s largest overseas war memorial, sits at the highest point of the Vimy Ridge and commemorates not only the Battle of Vimy Ridge, but all Canadian Expeditionary Force members killed during the First World War, including those with no known grave.

‘To the valour of their countrymen in The Great War and in memory of the 60,000 dead, this monument is raised by the people of Canada.’

The Castle Drum asked two students on the trip to share some of their thoughts and memories of the day:

Joshua Lu

‘I had heard of Vimy before, because we learn about it at school, so I was keen to go on the trip and see it for myself. The memorial was about a ten-minute walk from the Visitor Centre, but it can be seen from a great distance away – it really dominates the landscape! We all walked around it and took our own route, to explore and read the names inscribed there. It wasn’t until I received the pictures from my drone that I appreciated the scale of the battlefield. As it took off, I had a birds-eye view of the craters that the mortars had created. The sheer size of them cannot be appreciated from ground level. I got a real sense of the scale of destruction, and I think that will be my abiding memory of the trip.’

At the summit, the inscription reads, ‘The Canadian Corps on 9th April 1917 with four divisions in line on a front of 4 miles attacked and captured this ridge.’

Cheyenne Bates

‘I went on the trip to honour my Great Great Uncle, Lance Corporal Samuel Lyons, who died at the battle. He was 24. I went to Eastbourne the day before to buy flowers to take with me. The Visitor’s Centre was interesting and many of the staff there were Canadian students like us, on a Gap Year. It was a chilly, windy day, so as we walked along the lines of the trenches toward the top of the ridge it made me think of how miserable conditions must have been. At the memorial, I found my Great Great Uncle’s inscription and took photos for my family. In class, casualties are sometimes just a number in your mind, but seeing the long list of the names of the Fallen brought home a real sense of the human cost. Later, as I stood at the top of the ridge and looked back down the slope I thought of the Canadian troops. They must have felt so relieved to finally make it to the top and take the ridge, and yet it would have been a bitter-sweet victory given the losses they had suffered.’

The Vimy memorial dominates the landscape

The Castle Drum would like to thank Cheyenne and Joshua for allowing us to use their photos of the day. For more of Joshua’s drone footage, which also features many images of Herstmonceux Castle, please visit his Instagram page @joshualu98.

 

»The Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration for valour, was awarded to no less than four members of the Canadian Corps for their actions at The Battle of Vimy Ridge.«

CD#19 – The BISC Remembers

On Saturday 11th November, the BISC hosted a Remembrance themed concert in aid of The Friends of East Sussex Association of Blind and Partially Sighted People. The Castle Choir, together with BISC Musicians in Residence, Diana Gilchrist (Soprano) and Shelley Katz (Piano) performed a range of popular music from World Wars 1 and 2.

The BISC Musicians in Residence – Shelley Katz and Diana Gilchrist

Diana Gilchrist said, ‘When planning any programme for the students, both Shelley and I feel that it is incredibly important that the music has a strong pedagogical aspect as well. In the weeks leading up to this concert we challenged the students to think hard about the words they were singing and ask themselves, with hindsight, how should these songs be sung? The students accepted the challenge with a genuine sense of empathy, for those going off to war and for those that they left behind, that I think certainly shone for all to see in their performances.’

The choir began in an upbeat way with a stomping rendition of Pack up your troubles. The energy and confidence of the piece channelled the sense of fanfare, camaraderie and patriotism that would have been used to send young men and women off to war. By contrast, the Chamber Choir’s beautiful rendition of Keep the Home Fire Burning moved some audience members to tears. Sadness was just as quickly replaced by laughter however, after the Men’s Choir’s hilarious showstopper, The Quartermaster’s Store.

Diana and students from the BISC Ladies’ Choir

The connection between the Castle Choir and audience was something that brought Diana great pleasure. Speaking afterwards she said, ‘The evening reiterated that great performance is a combination of three factors – the music, the performers and the audience. What we experienced on Saturday was truly a two-way communication, with the choir connecting with the audience in a very personal way.’

Diana believes the somewhat bizarre architecture of the performance space was an important factor. Those in attendance were seated in long rows in the castle’s Ballroom, meaning every member of the choir could make eye-contact with at least one member of the audience. For students from a generation where perhaps the world wars only exist in the movies, it was a chance to perform for an audience made up of people with personal memories of World War 2 – of being evacuated, and of saying goodbye to loved ones.

The evening begins with a rousing rendition of ‘Pack up your troubles’

The special atmosphere in the room was not lost on the students. First Year student Sara-Maya Kaba says, ‘After the performance, I was absent-mindedly looking around the room when an older gentleman’s gaze met with my own, and he came over to talk to me. He said, “These songs have no meaning to you – you weren’t alive during the war. But the way you all sang tonight, you wouldn’t be able to tell. It really brought me back, it was brilliant. Thank you.” The gratitude and happiness – if not awe in his voice is something that will stick with me forever.’

Mrs Shirley Price, Vice Patron of ESAB said afterwards, ‘I’m 85 and until I heard the Ladies’ Choir sing Johnny Canuck it had never occurred to me that Canadians have war songs too! Thank you for a most magnificent evening. You could not have put together a better, well balanced and more memorable concert if you had tried!’

___

The ESAB is dedicated to making the lives of blind and partially sighted people in East Sussex richer and more independent. For more information, visit www.eastsussexblind.org

»There is music in the midst of desolation. And a glory that shines upon our tears. (For the Fallen – Robert L. Binyon)«

CD#6 – Gambol through the Grounds

Sarah McKenzie will lead the walk

This Friday lunchtime (17th March) Biology professor Sarah McKenzie will be leading a nature walk through the Castle’s grounds – and she would very much like you to join her. The walk will wend its way via the Orchard up to the Ponds, where Sarah will talk to you about the wildlife lurking there and the ways in which the habitat is being managed. You will then follow the path to Birch Walk and then on to Chestnut Walk.

A nimble visitor at rest

En route, with some luck (and a bit of stealth for the benefit of the more nimble inhabitants of our grounds) you will see butterflies, birds, evidence of the odd mammal (if you are really lucky, maybe even the odd mammal itself!), plus an assortment of fungi and flora. Sarah will help you identify the various species around you, and will explain how all you see before you lives harmoniously (or not so harmoniously) in their shared environment.

So, if you fancy a ramble in the sunshine (the weather forecast is currently sunshine, but, hey, who knows at this time year!), meet Sarah this Friday at 1.00pm outside Castle Reception. Wear some stout shoes (or wellies if the forecast is wrong and it tips it down!) and some sensible clothing, and you’ll be ready for anything.

Ducking out…

The walk is scheduled to last 90 minutes, but if you can’t spare that amount of time, join Sarah for whatever time you do have and you can always ‘duck’ out when it suits you!

 

 

»Ducking and diving since January 2017«

CD#5 – Which Antiques?…Witch Antics

Some of you may remember the queue of people stretching across the South Gate bridge and encircling the Castle on a sunny day last March when keen individuals patiently waited to share their prized possessions with Paul Martin and his Flog It! team. We’re delighted to say that the episode recorded that day is about to make it to the small screen – and not just the one episode, but two!

Paul Martin and his team reveal the treasures of Herstmonceux

Both episodes will be aired next week on Tuesday, 14th March at 4.30pm on BBC1 and on Friday, 17th March at 4.30pm, also on BBC1. If you are around, why not join us in the Conference Room at 4.30pm on Tuesday, when we will be celebrating the screening. Refreshments will be provided. All being well, the Castle’s performance on Flog It! twice in one week will tempt many more keen individuals to experience this spectacular location for themselves.

It was almost certainly the spellbinding nature of our location and the oft-heard comparison of the Castle to a famous fictional school for wizards that resulted in us hosting the Bothwell School of Witchcraft this August. For 3 days (11th to 13th August) budding witches and wizards will have the chance to role-play a character specially created for them based on their answers to a questionnaire when they register for the event.

Witches and wizards in August

With unique settings and story lines, the participants will be able to interact with other characters to contribute to an exciting adventure, as in popular murder-mystery weekends, (but this time with magic, and perhaps without the murder…) There has been quite a buzz on social media about this event and a number of news articles but, to find out what all the excitement is about, visit the School’s website. All we will say is, be prepared to see black gowns and wands aplenty for a brief ‘spell’ in summer!

»Working its magic everywhere since January 2017«

CD#4 – Reinvigorating and rejuvenating for the reopening

On Saturday 4th March the Castle reopens to the public – considerably earlier than in previous years. In celebration of this event we thought you might like to learn a little about what has been going on in the Gardens and Grounds over the Winter months while the rest of us have been desperately trying to keep out of the wind and rain (and avoiding the chaos caused by Doris), although Gardener Supervisor Jackie does assure us that we had a mild, dry Fall – too long ago to remember!

Gardens and Grounds Team February 2017
The Gardens and Grounds Team proving that for at least one day we had sunshine!!

You may have noticed that, despite this latest spell of rain, things in the borders have definitely shifted into Spring mode, with many of the herbaceous perennials already daring to show their green. This bravery is in part spurred on by the two truck-loads (18 tonnes) of compost that Jackie and her team have spread over the borders during the Winter.

Jackie, Tom, Fiona and George have also between them planted 3,000 bulbs, which should put on a fantastic display of colour soon. You probably will have also seen the Gardening team hard at work scarifying, pruning, dividing and generally renovating all round. This will have a huge visual impact as the plants are rejuvenated and reinvigorated, plus will provide sale items for the plant stall. No garden has been left untouched, with the Azalea, Elizabethan, Shakespeare, Butterfly and Folly gardens all undergoing some form of renovation. The Herb garden is next on the team’s hit list.

Gardens and Grounds Daffodils and Castle February 2017
Early signs that Spring has sprung

In the Grounds, Guy, Adam and Kallum have been keeping warm by renewing the chestnut fencing, using in part chestnut coppiced from the estate. Over the coming year they will be tackling the invasive and potentially disease-spreading Rhododendron ponticum, eradicating it from the estate. So much of the clearing work that the team has undertaken has opened up new vistas not seen for many years. For our younger visitors (and maybe the not so young too!) the Estate team will be devising a tree trail and an ‘I spy’ trail. We are sure they would welcome all who wish to trial the trails!

So, if you enjoy fresh air, tranquillity and a chance to escape your office once in a while, the fantastic gardens and grounds are there for you. And if you enjoy them, do spread the word – encourage your family and friends to visit too!   As a member of staff or faculty you can bring up to four family members or friends into the gardens free of charge. You will also be able to take advantage of our complimentary tickets for friends and family, which means they can enjoy the Gardens and Grounds even when you are unable to be with them.  And all we ask in return, is that you take with you on your travels a handful of our leaflets and leave them wherever they are likely to encourage others to visit the Castle!

Do you have a question, comment or suggestion for an article to feature in the next Castle Drum? Email: castledrum@bisc.queensu.ac.uk 

»Storming ahead with a Spring in our step«

CD#3 – Let’s get technical!

In this issue we embrace our techy sides.

We can all improve our IT skills! The majority of us are self-taught, and while that’s absolutely fine, it often means that we’re not realising the full potential of all the fantastic software we have available to us.

Queen’s has recognised this and is piloting a three-year project that will allow staff and faculty to access literally thousands of step-by-step tutorial videos on hundreds of topics.

Introducing 

Lynda is a training website for anyone looking to improve their knowledge of common software packages, learn a new skill (for business, or just to be a little more creative) and stay informed of the latest technological changes. The site is usually only available through a subscription fee, but can be accessed 100% free of charge by anyone with a Queen’s Net ID.

If you do not currently have a Net ID and would like one, don’t panic! Please contact BiscIT@bisc.queensu.ac.uk and they will be more than happy to get you started. A Net ID is merely a username and a password, similar to your email account, and all staff and faculty are entitled to one.

The BiscIT logo. Biscuit? Cookies must be enabled.

Once you are logged in, Lynda will save the videos you have watched, suggest playlists based on the topics that interest you, and even allow you to create your own playlists so that you can design your own learning path. You can learn at your own pace, at work, at home, or even on the bus via Lynda’s mobile apps.

The left-hand column of this screengrab gives an idea of some of the areas of interest covered by Lynda:

Faculty members might be interested to note that there are a range of teaching tools and entire playlists dedicated to professional development for educators. Whatever your role at the Castle however, we recommend you click here for a comprehensive list of every subject covered.

Learn to be a better photographer, how to animate your drawings, or just how to get started with Microsoft Office. The Castle Drum simply cannot recommend this resource highly enough… and did we mention, it’s completely free? If you have a Net ID, click here to get started.

Do you have a question, comment or suggestion for an article to feature in the next Castle Drum? Email: castledrum@bisc.queensu.ac.uk 

»Keyboard not found. Press [Enter] to proceed«

CD#2 – The difficult sequel

A Happy Friday from everyone at The Castle Drum – especially if you’re a newbie! The first issue, as a well known politician might say was rather ‘Yuge’, so we promise to keep CD#2 short and sweet.

First up – an apology. At the end of our last, The Castle Drum provided links to the castle’s social media accounts, but we neglected to mention the Experiential Learning program’s pages!

Experiential Learning Opportunities (ELOs) are a key component of the BISC’s academic experience and are an important element of every single course that we offer. Our students have taken some really interesting photos, not only on their travels overseas, but right here in Sussex. It is well worth exploring the links at the bottom of this page, which includes a link to a new BISC Photography Club that has really taken off on Instagram this semester. Check out what our students have been up to on their expeditions beyond the castle grounds.

Which leads us on nicely to the subject of the 1066 Staff Pass

If the students’ adventures have inspired you to get out and about, did you know that any member of staff can sign out a pass granting complimentary entry for two people to a great number of local attractions? A comprehensive list of these attractions can be found here, so if you and a friend wish to do some exploring of your own this weekend, for free, simply sign out the card from the Admin Office.

Back on the estate itself, the SMT have decided to reintroduce photo ID badges for all staff and faculty. Emails will be sent notifying you of the times available to come and sit for your head-shots, with plenty of notice, so you’ll have lots of time to practice the perfect Blue Steel. A room will be set aside in the ED’s apartment, to give the sitter some privacy and to ensure that the backdrop and lighting is consistent for each photo. If you are nice to Brian, The Castle Drum has been informed that you are welcome to pose for as many shots as it takes to get a picture you are happy with!

The ID badge will simply consist of a photo of the holder on a card with their name, job title and department. It will be displayed inside a plastic holder, which can be clipped onto a breast pocket, or secured around the neck with a lanyard.

As an educational institution we have a duty of care to take steps to ensure the safeguarding of our students, and a photo ID badge will help both students and Campus Security identify a member of staff at a glance, whilst simultaneously drawing attention to any adult on site that is not carrying identification. Your co-operation would be appreciated, as wearing your badge will not only make our community safer for all, but improve interactions between employees and legitimate visitors to the castle estate. Your badge will identify you as someone who can help if they are in need of assistance.

Do you have a question, comment or suggestion for an article to feature in the next Castle Drum? Email: castledrum@bisc.queensu.ac.uk 

ELOs
ELOs
BISC PC

 

 

 

»Rolling with the alternative facts since January 2017«