Western announced the members of its new equity, diversity and inclusion advisory council — the first panel of its kind at Western with community leaders to guide anti-racism and equity work on campus.
Western University assembled the council in response to the 23 EDI recommendations from the President’s Anti-Racism Working Group final report. The council will amplify the voices of marginalized groups on campus and provide guidance for the incoming associate vice-president of EDI.
“This work is heavy and hard, and [the EDI] office will have a huge burden to carry out all of the changes that are needed at the institution,” said Nicole Kaniki, Western's special advisor on anti-racism to the president. “[The associate vice-president of EDI will] need the expertise of individuals from various areas to strategically make those changes in hiring and recruitment practices, in student experiences, in curriculum and pedagogies in research and administration.”
The eight council members come from all walks of campus life, including researchers and professors, like Bipasha Baruah, Susan Knabe and Erica Lawson from the women’s studies department. Other EDI council members include Candace Brunette-Debassige, who works in Western’s office of Indigenous initiatives; Donna Fagon-Pascal, a Western alumna; and Sean Waite, an assistant sociology professor.
David Simmonds, a notable Western alumnus who spearheaded anti-racism initiatives on campus and sits on the university’s Board of Governors, and Laura Williams, an alumna from the faculty of Law, will occupy the last two seats.
The advisory council will not act as a decision-making body and instead meet a few times a year to guide anti-racism and EDI work and publish relevant data to measure progress on the working group's 23 recommendations.
“Looking at the progress Western’s made over the last year on the Anti-Racism Working Group’s recommendations … we [have] made really substantial progress,” said Alan Shepard.