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OPINION: Not the way to encourage equity

Dalhousie "job applications will be restricted to racially visible persons and aboriginal peoples at this time."
Dalhousie University

Rethink financial, other support until university rethinks its hiring practices

BY FRAN ALBRECHT

GUEST OPINION

Yesterday, (Monday, Feb. 12), I listened to the CBC's Maritime Noon radio program. The first lady interviewed was Jasmine Walsh, assistant vice-president of human resources. She was speaking on Dalhousie University's recruitment policy "to increase diversity among its employees, including in leadership positions."

At present, Dalhousie is in search of a vice-provost of student affairs. Ms. Walsh stated that "job applications will be restricted to racially visible persons and aboriginal peoples at this time." I could not believe that Dalhousie is openly discriminating against certain non-visible minority groups (those with white skin) from applying for faculty and staff positions.

She said that this policy "applies to all vacancies at present now." Only racially visible persons and aboriginal peoples may apply. I still cannot believe that this is happening in Canada.

I agree that we need to increase diversity in all positions, at all levels of society, but never to discriminate in this way. This policy is pitting one racial group against another. This is not the way to encourage equity or inclusiveness. Dalhousie's definition of equity and inclusiveness must be very narrow, restricted to certain groups, not all groups.

In response to the question, "What about the argument that you should be looking for the most qualified employee first and foremost, no matter their background?" Ms. Walsh answered, "equity, diversity and inclusiveness are actually precursors to excellence as our institution is moving into a more global world, and I feel there isn’t a merit argument that runs counter to this. In fact, this actually for us is the way to develop the most meritorious faculty and staff population." A gobbledygook answer to a clear and concise question.

She goes on to say that Dalhousie offers incentives and awards to faculty deans who recruit within these targeted populations. Rewards for exclusion.

I lived through the 1960s, growing up watching newscasts of racial discrimination and injustices in the United States. I remember clearly seeing signs, "For whites only" and "No blacks may apply." We have forgotten our history, such a short time ago. We must not ever repeat that history, not even a hint of it. I challenge those who support Dalhousie, financially or otherwise, to rethink their support until Dalhousie rethinks their hiring practices.

Fran Albrecht of Tryon is a member of the local Women’s Institute and is involved in historical matters of the area.

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