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Source: Wilfrid Laurier University

Laurier establishes new Office for Student Diversity

October 13, 2006

is everybody’s business." It’s the motto for Laurier’s new Office for
Student Diversity, and it’s a message that student diversity coordinator
Majorie Brown hopes everyone on campus – from student groups to professors –
will take to heart.

Since Brown took on her new position, she’s actively spread the word about
the Office for Student Diversity and how important a focus on diversity is
to the Laurier community. She’s met with university president Dr. Robert
Rosehart, she’s held a training session with WLUSU volunteers and has one
planned for the WLUSU management board, met with teaching and support
services, spoken to classes, set a date to speak with both university
council and senate, lined up speakers for a speaker series, and planned an
open house for November 6 and a Faculty Diversity Brunch for December 2006 –
all since she arrived at Laurier just over a month ago.

"I’m attempting to develop collaborative relationships at all levels of the
university and within the larger community," explained Brown. "We need to
ensure that we meet the needs of our diverse students in every facet of
university life, and provide outreach for programming – we can’t do it
alone." Brown explains that when a student drops out of university because
they were inappropriately transitioned or not engaged, it has an impact on
the future generation of applicants to the university, in turn creating
significant costs to both the university and the student.

"The role of the Office for Student Diversity is to enhance diversity on
campus through the development, coordination and delivery of programs and
projects that will contribute to an open and accepting quality of life for
all students," explained David McMurray, dean of students. "The campus’
collaborative and collective enthusiasm for this new student initiative will
be vital to its success."

The relationships being built today will go far to support the mandate of
the Office for Student Diversity: to enhance student engagement and identify
gaps in program offerings for students with respect to access, inclusion and
diversity. The office oversees the Women’s Centre and the Rainbow Centre,
and plans to establish a First Nations’ House and Centre for Race, Ethnicity
and Multicultural Experience. It aims to be an inclusive destination point
on campus.

Brown’s strategy, which is aligned with the Laurier Century Plan’s focus on
internationalization and a student-centred environment, includes painting an
accurate statistical picture of the diverse nature of the Laurier community.
Painting this picture will inform programming and allow the university to
project future needs. While much of this information will come from
university applications, they do not complete the scene. "We are creating
web pages as part of and My Laurier which will encourage students to
provide feedback on a wide range of diversity issues on campus, which will
supplement the statistical data available to us," said Brown. "Our websites
will be up and running soon, and I encourage everyone to visit."

In addition to documenting Laurier’s diversity, Brown has three immediate
goals. Her first goal is to establish the Student Diversity Council, which
will allow presidents of all student organizations to come together to
discuss ideas. Secondly, she wants to work with student leadership and
campus clubs to create new leadership diversity models that include
diversity content, and will lead to ambassadors who could work as interns in
the Office for Student Diversity, or act as mentors to high school students.
Brown’s third goal is to create a speaker series, which would feature a new
speaker each month beginning in January, as she believes that a speaker
series is a "key component of diversity in higher education."

Brown comes well equipped to accomplish these goals. She is the founding
chair of the Equity in Diversity International Foundation, which supports
active learning with boards of education and post-secondary student mentors.
She has focused on diversity as a consultant, sensitivity trainer, educator
and advocate. She chaired the advisory committee on race, ethnicity and
culture at Carlton University, and wrote the strategic plan to implement the
committee’s policy.

Brown encourages all students, faculty and staff to visit the Office for
Student Diversity in person at room 118 MacDonald House, at the
website, or at My Laurier. Everyone is welcome to the open house week and
official launch beginning on November 6. Open house events will encourage
interaction among students, faculty and staff from all backgrounds and
interests. Further details to follow.

Lori Chalmers Morrison
Public Affairs



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