Empowering students to take ownership of inclusion

September 25, 2018 | Campus Life
With the launch of a new semester, the Office of Human Rights, Diversity and Equity (OHRDE) is introducing new plans to harness the university community’s energy, ideas and passion to promote inclusion on campus.

The office opened in early 2018, and in the months since, director Irfan Chaudhry has been exploring how the OHRDE can streamline human rights-related efforts at MacEwan – from centralizing work already in progress to identifying new opportunities.

“The biggest task has been figuring out how to position ourselves in a way that best supports the university,” says Irfan. “We’ve determined that our primary role is to look at this from a prevention perspective.”

With this in mind, the office finalized their four key priority areas over the summer: institutional support, awareness, education and outreach.

In pursuit of these priorities, Irfan says the goal is to empower MacEwan’s students, faculty and staff to take ownership of promoting human rights education on campus.

The Equity Project is a new program that hopes to do just. It allows members of the MacEwan community to request support for advancing inclusion through an online form. For example, if a student wants to host a panel presentation or create a poster education campaign, the office will review the request, and if successful, determine the best way to elevate the idea. The office can offer micro-grant funding or logistical support, like event planning advice or help with booking a speaker.

Christine Feron, a fourth-year psychology student, has already received support from The Equity Project. As a mother of a five-year-old, Christine recognized a need to consolidate information about campus supports for students with children, so she gathered that information and developed a single resource.

Fourth-year student Christine Feron wanted to help students with children receive information about campus supports. Assistance from The Equity Project allowed Christine to create and market an informational resource.

Her successful application to The Equity Project allowed her to create the Students with Children resource, which will be hosted on the MacEwan website, and design and print materials that were distributed at New Student Orientation.

“The nice thing about this is that it’s organic,” says Irfan. “We’re just coming alongside a person or group who is already doing good work and finding ways to support them.”

The office also plans to encourage activism by hosting events that provide safe places to engage in difficult conversations. The first event in the Understanding Hate speaker series on Thursday, Sept. 27 will do just that. Brad Galloway, a former leader in the Canadian far-right movement, will speak about how he left extremism, and the negative impact of the movement in Canada.

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