Volume 92, Issue 78

Tuesday, February 16, 1999


Freedom of the press not for monopolies


Strategic plan combats society's systemic barriers

Strategic plan combats society's systemic barriers

Re: Faculty amendments in the mail, Feb. 3

To the Editor:

In Western's 1995 strategic plan Leadership in Learning, the principle of diversity is emphasized as one of the guiding statements that the university will strive to uphold.

This principle states that "as part of our commitment to excellence, we seek to recognize and remove the obstacles faced by traditionally underrepresented groups in order to facilitate their access to and advancement at Western. We respect and celebrate the diversity of people who make up our community."

Obstacles exist in our society whether we like to admit it or not. In many different arms of the workforce, executive positions continue to primarily be held by white men. On average, women receive less money for a similar job held by a man.

While these practices may not be predominant at Western, we must, by our principle illustrated in Leadership in Learning, ensure that such barriers are not placed in the way of any person whether they are currently there or not. We must continue to be a leader in this respect and make a commitment to these groups to show that their struggles are acknowledged and respected.

Some have argued that employment equity is a barrier – to white men. This argument is flawed in one fundamental respect – white men comprise a social group that has never endured any systemic hardship or barrier to opportunity in our society. Equity is about elevating the rights of historically discriminated against minorities to a comparable level with the traditional majority. Therefore, employment equity does not discriminate, it ensures that our current hiring practices are representative.

Students, professors and researchers challenge us to think in new ways, inspiring us to examine our values and define our growing knowledge of the world we inhabit. It should follow that the faculty are properly representative of the diverse population at Western, emphasizing the equality of opportunity that all students deserve from the moment they enrol here.

Additionally, a commitment at our educational institution to equality of opportunity is an important message for us to send to our graduates who are entering a world where latent discriminatory attitudes still exist.

A minor clause in a contract promotes equity and equality amongst all people while ensuring that our hiring practices will not discriminate on the basis of gender or heritage. We will continue to get the best teachers and researchers this institution could hope for. A commitment to diversity benefits the university's image and the educational experience of the students. And that, I believe, is what Leadership in Learning is trying to say.

Peter J. Hill
USC VP-Campus Issues

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Copyright The Gazette 1999