Supporting Sexuality and Gender Diversity

Dear members of the University community / Boozhoo / Aanii / Kwe kwe,

In 2012, Laurentian’s Sexuality and Gender Diversity Committee carried out a survey to the community to assess the climate for our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, 2-sprited, + (LGBTQ2-S+) members.

While the survey did find that there were many positive experiences for LGBTQ2-S+ members, there were clear opportunities for improvement. With these findings in mind, the Committee made the following recommendations:

  • Create a Vice-President, Equity and Diversity position;
  • Develop and implement a university-wide Positive Space training program;
  • Provide resources to Pride @ LU and the Women’s Centre, including the hiring of a full-time, permanent staff member for both of these important groups;
  • Provide universally-accessible washrooms and change room facilities throughout campus;
  • Engage in the promotion of LGBTQ2-S curriculum.

I am pleased to announce that we responded with tremendous effort and made the following improvements:

  • Assistant Vice-President, Diversity, Equity and Human Rights: In April 2016, Laurentian welcomed Noël Badiou in this role. Noël came to us with a great deal of expertise in human rights and is creating proactive education programs to help create an environment of respect, equity, diversity and inclusion;
  • Safe Space Training: safe space training started in September 2016 with the goal of providing training to 30-40 people within its first year. To date, over 400 members of the Laurentian community have taken part. The goal of the program is to provide visible contact points for members of the LGBTQ2-S community who may find themselves in need of seeking services or support. Laurentian members who wish to become a contact point will attend a 1 1/2 hour training session offered by Dr. Joel Dickinson, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology. Participants receive a Safe Space sticker to display in their work, research and study areas, indicating that they have the knowledge to talk about issues related to sexuality or gender expression, and are familiar with internal policies, procedures, and resources as well as off-campus resources;
  • New minor in Critical Sexuality Studies: last September the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department began offering this new interdisciplinary minor which takes a critical view of sexuality from perspectives such as biology, history, and philosophy;
  • Washrooms: the University has introduced gender-neutral washrooms as part of its newly-constructed spaces;
  • Preferred Name: this may not seem like a huge leap forward, but to members of the Laurentian community who have a name on their birth certificate that does not match their identity, this initiative can be very impactful. Our name can be a very key piece to our identity, and thanks to our IT team, it is now possible for students to use a preferred name that will identify them on all systems within the university. After two years of work, we are very proud to offer this option.

All of these achievements were accomplished in five short years! Keep an eye out for the next survey which will be released within the next month, and have a say on how we move forward together!

As always, I welcome comments on the blog or any other matter. You can reach me at dominicgiroux@laurentian.ca, or can join the 12,300 people who follow me on FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank you, Miigwech.

Campus Modernization Breathes New Life to our Campus

Dear members of the University community / Boozhoo / Aanii / Kwe kwe,

I mentioned in an earlier blog that 2016 featured the Summer and the Fall to remember. Well 2016 can also be remembered as another year of construction at Laurentian. There is more work to be done, but let’s take a moment to consider how far we have come. Work has been completed on the Executive Learning Centre, the University Club, the new dining facility at Alphonse Raymond, the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research Unit Laboratory, the new bookstore, MyLaurentian Hub, new space for University Advancement and Accessibility Services, the McEwen School of Architecture, the Ben Avery Human Kinetics Laboratories and the expansion of Parking Lot #4.

Construction continues in 2017, but this year we will finish work on the RD Parker Building renovations. That includes the new Indigenous Sharing and Learning Centre, the new Multi-Faith Prayer Space, as well as the new home for Liaison, Laurentian International, the Graduate Students’ Association and the Laurentian Association of Mature and Part-Time Students. We expect that work will be completed in the Spring. The remainder of the RD Parker renovation project, which includes the new Welcome Centre Atrium and a variety of study spaces that connect the RD Parker to the Dining facility, will be completed in the late spring or very early summer. We look forward to closing this chapter of the Campus Modernization project and restoring normal access to facilities. I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and everyone of you for your patience and cooperation during the many phases of the project.

You have likely noticed the sudden change in landscape behind the Fraser building or heard the multiple blast horn signals and the blasting. I’m happy to say that the construction of the new Cliff Fielding Research, Innovation and Engineering Building is well underway. Mass rock excavation is almost finished and building the foundation is set to start soon. This is another important and interesting project to keep track of, and in the next month, a live time-lapse camera will be installed so you can monitor the progress live from your computers or mobile devices (we’ll be sure to get you the URL once enabled!). This project will be in construction mode for the entire year and will be completed in 2018. The path leading from parking lot #15 (…The Pit) to the campus will continue to be available, however you can expect detours throughout various phases of construction this year. Keep an eye out for project update emails delivered by capitalprojects@laurentian.ca. You can also email any questions or comments you might have for the team at this address.

Finally, in terms of capital projects, the Students’ General Association (SGA) held a referendum in March of 2014 in which the majority of the members voted to fund the construction of a new Student Centre. The University is working closely with the SGA and will be retaining the project architect in the near future. The architects, in partnership with the SGA, will conduct a thorough consultation process with its members in order to ensure it meets the needs of students. This is a project for the students, by the students. After receiving input, we will present a building design to the community in the Fall when students return for classes. The new Student Centre will be located at the intersection of University Road next to West Residence. Stay tuned!

As always, I welcome comments on the blog or any other matter. You can reach me at dominicgiroux@laurentian.ca, or can join the 12,300 people who follow me on FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank you, Miigwech.