Reflections and looking ahead
Dear members of the McGill community,
The last days of the winter term and first signs of spring provide an opportune moment to think about renewal. It is in this spirit of renewal that we share some reflections on the academic year that is winding down, and significant plans for the year ahead.
Some important work was accomplished this past year. The Provost’s Task Force on Indigenous Studies and Indigenous Education, launched last September, has conducted extensive consultation and research, and we look forward to receiving its Final Report in June. Last fall, McGill adopted a Policy against Sexual Violence and established its new Office for Sexual Violence Response, Support and Education. These efforts are critical to the goal of promoting equity and inclusion on our campuses, which are essential to McGill’s academic mission.
McGill has faced some difficult and important challenges this year. Various incidents have revealed that our campus is not unlike others across the continent, which struggle to define their responsibilities in the face of objectionable conduct by members of their communities. Such incidents have prompted some critical questions and concerns about the depth of our commitment to student success and well-being, and to ideological diversity and exchange through debate and dialogue.
We have heard these concerns and will establish and support concrete efforts to affirm, and build confidence in, McGill’s steadfast commitment to a respectful and inclusive campus, free from violence. In this regard, a busy year lies ahead, specifically:
- The Provost has charged Professors Christopher Buddle (Dean of Students) and Angela Campbell (Associate Provost, Equity & Academic Policies) with conducting a review of the meaning of “university context,” to discern the scope of McGill’s disciplinary jurisdiction over incidents of misconduct involving members of the McGill community that occur off-campus. The results of this review will be shared with the McGill Senate in September, and will serve to inform revisions to the McGill Code of Student Conduct this fall.
- Professors Lucy Lach and Shaheen Shariff have accepted our invitation to chair two committees created under the Policy against Sexual Violence: the first will oversee the ongoing work of implementing the Policy to ensure its effectiveness, and the second will conduct a campus study of sexual violence. These committees include student, faculty and administrative and support staff membership. Their final reports will be due in spring 2018 and will be made public at that time.
- Professor Ollivier Dyens (Deputy Provost, Student Life & Learning) will lead consultations in the coming months, culminating in a scholarly conference that explores the meaning and value of free speech and respectful engagement on campus.
- Mr. Marc Gélinas, Executive Director of Athletics & Recreation, will oversee the development and implementation of a series of initiatives to examine and deter harmful initiation practices and cultures.
- June 21, National Aboriginal Day, will see a celebration of Indigeneity at the new location of the Hochelaga Rock on lower campus. The Final Report of the Task Force on Indigenous Studies and Indigenous Education will be released the same day. Immediately following that occasion, the Provost will set to work examining the recommendations of the Task Force and developing a plan for their implementation, beginning in Fall 2017.
We welcome your views on the foregoing, and will be reaching out shortly with an invitation to share your thoughts and ideas. We believe a collective and ongoing commitment is needed to ensure the success of each of these initiatives.
Finally, we wish you a successful end to the academic year, and a summer that is both adventurous and restful. We look forward to collaborating with the McGill community on the challenging but critical work that lies ahead for our university.
Principal and Vice-Chancellor
Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)
April 10, 2017