As alumni, you understand better than anyone how essential everything that happens outside the classroom is to the overall Mount Allison experience. Along with our high-quality academics, it is one of the things that defines this University, and I am proud to play a part in developing the student experience in my role as Vice-President, international and student affairs.
Over the past year the student affairs team has taken an in-depth look at several key areas. Working with students and other departments on campus, we have endeavoured to make improvements that will benefit all students. I’m pleased to share these developments with you.
Sexual violence prevention and response on campus
One of our first tasks was taking a long hard look at our existing sexual assault and harassment policies. While Mount Allison was one of the first universities in Canada to have stand-alone policies in this area, they needed updating to meet the current needs of our community.
The new Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Policy was officially passed at the Board of Regents’ May 2016 meeting. The updated policy is survivor-focused and advocates for community education as a means to prevent sexual violence. Awareness campaigns and training will be rolled out to the campus community throughout the year, including at hallmark events such as Orientation and during residence staff training.
Mental health and wellness on campus
Creating awareness of and improving services to support our students’ mental health and wellness has been a key focus over the past year. Student affairs has developed a Mental Health Strategy to address this area of growing importance for our community.
Karen Geldart, Mount Allison’s mental health educator, working directly with students, has been instrumental in organizing events like the popular Stress-Free zones before exams and the Elephant in the Room series, where students share their experiences with mental illness.
The University also hosted a Student Leader Mental Health Summit in January.
In addition, The Meighen Centre has expanded to serve students with all types of disabilities, including mental health disorders. This provides students access to the Centre’s longstanding expertise in assisting students with disabilities.
Indigenization of campus
This past year Mount Allison hired Doreen Richard (’96) as its first Indigenous affairs co-ordinator. Her mandate is to support our First Nations students and to work with non-Indigenous students, faculty, and staff members to help educate the entire community with respect to tradition, history, culture, and indigenization of the curriculum and campus.
Mount Allison hosted two Indigenous Forums this past year, which brought scholars, students, and activists from across Canada for discussions around access and support for First Nations students. The Mi’kmaw flag was raised for the first time on campus in recognition of Treaty Day, and Convocation ceremonies were opened with traditional drumming.
The University has declared 2016-17 the Year of Indigenous Knowing. We look forward to continuing on this path of indigenizing our campus, culturally, academically, and socially, in accordance with the federal Truth and Reconciliation Report.
These are just some of the areas Mount Allison has been focusing on to better serve our students and the wider community.
I invite you to learn more about these initiatives by visiting the University’s website and welcome your thoughts on our progress so far.
Vice-President, International and Student Affairs