Algonquin College Building an Inclusive Environment for Students and Staff
Algonquin College is experiencing an inclusion infusion.
Many organizations talk about diversity and inclusion. The College is integrating these ideas in every aspect of what it does, creating new opportunities for students and staff to learn about other people and cultures — and about themselves.
“This isn’t something that can be achieved with a policy,” says Sarah Gauen, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist at the College, although she is proud of the Inclusion and Diversity Policy launched by the College in December. “Our emphasis on these ideas is intended to foster personal growth. By learning about diversity and inclusion, we can all interact more effectively with people around us who have other views and experiences.”
To promote such conversations, a series of Inclusion Infusion talks at the College feature interesting and challenging speakers.
These have included author and activist Robyn Maynard on the topic of anti-black racism in Canada and a panel exploring questions of faith featuring a rabbi, an imam and a chaplain.
In its most recent initiative, the College is building a microcredential around inclusion and diversity as part of a new series of self-directed online learning opportunities for employees.
Additional programs are emphasizing and enhancing diversity and inclusion for the College’s 20,000+ students. The We Saved You a
Seat program, for instance, sets aside 30 per cent of places for female students in select male-dominated programs and provides financial support through scholarships and awards.
The International Student Centre runs programs to help students from more than 100 countries studying at the College navigate the school, Ottawa’s workplaces and Canadian society. The Centre for Accessible Learning helps students with special needs get the accommodation they need, and a new Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act advisor coordinates accessibility work across the campus.
“There are so many systems at the College that are dedicated to ensuring our employees and our students are successful,” Gauen says. “That’s what we’re all about.”