Authors: Megan Green and Allie Bachtold
Engineering at Western is a family. We strive to help each other and make everyone feel welcome. While attending the CFES Congress there was a focus to make engineering across the country more inclusive. We have brought back ways to make events welcoming to everyone in Western Eng. The main topics we will focus on are: what to consider when planning an event, improving wet/dry events, how to make a culture of inclusivity in Western Engineering.
Planning Events that are Inclusive
In order to foster an inclusive environment within the program, we need to ensure the events we are running are inclusive and accepting of all possible attendees. A primary step in the event planning process is ensuring that your organizing committee or executive team is diverse. That you will be able to view the event from many different perspectives. If it is felt that this diverse team has not been created, an advisor who can give insight into this diversity gap should be contacted (such as executives from WEQ or WiE). It should also be ensured that the location of the event is accessible, and that if transportation is required, there is an option for students without cars, or students who require wheelchair friendly busses. As the event is being advertised and introduced to the public, all accessibility notes should be listed. If your organisation has accomodation available for those who need it, ensure that it is advertised so that people know that it is there! Simply including a contact email at the bottom of a poster that is available to answer any accessibility concerns can be extremely helpful. Finally, in order to ensure clubs and teams are creating events or initiatives that are inclusive to all, the Inclusion Lens website, created by York University, can be used (http://inclusionlens.yorku.ca/). This is a great resource to use as a final check to ensure nothing was missed during the planning process.
It is important that at a wet dry event the focus is shifted from drinking. This will prevent people who choose not to drink from feeling left out of the activities. This means there needs to be activities, other than standing at the bar, to allow people to interact. A successful Wet Dry event that we already have is Charity on The Rocks. This event has many non drinking activities including live performances, trivia games and snacks. Other activities that were suggested at CFES to be used for wet dry events included having various games such as ping-pong and pool tournaments, going bowling, and having industry sponsors attend.
Improving Inclusivity Overall
To improve the overall inclusivity of the Western Engineering Community our student leaders need to look at events and initiatives through a wider lense. The leaders of clubs and teams help set the atmosphere for the rest of the group so it is important for them to think inclusively. Suggestions from the other schools included having leaders take inclusivity training. This is important because sometimes it is hard to see where people are being left out. The use of introductive pronouns (ie, she/her/hers, they/their/theirs) could also be used more prominently within the program. If these pronouns are more commonly used in introductions by executive and faculty members of the engineering community, as well as in small more casual contexts, will foster a more inclusive environment.
In order to work towards our goal of ensuring Western Engineering is an inclusive and open program, we need to begin making changes to our current environment. Although this blog post is just a guide to those who are interested, we hope it brings forward some simple solutions to make an effective change. With your help, we can make Western Engineering feel like home for each and every student.