McQuaid, director for wellness and well-being (student experience), and Wathen, professor and Canada Research Chair in Mobilizing Knowledge on Gender-based Violence, will co-chair the committee tasked to dig deeper into issues of student safety in the context of gender-based and sexual violence, and make recommendations for action.
“With their combined breadth of experience, I am confident Terry and Nadine will successfully carry out the mandate of the committee,” Shepard said. “Together with a diverse group of insightful committee members, they will help chart a course toward a safer campus for all students and community members.”
Western announced plans to create this new group in response to reports of incidents of gender-based and sexual violence at the start of the school year.
“Student safety and well-being is of utmost importance,” McQuaid said. “I am particularly moved to be a part of this significant undertaking to take Western to the next level in ensuring that we are building a community that actively promotes the safety and well-being of its members. I look forward to working with Nadine and other knowledgeable experts – including those with lived experience – to move the work of this new committee forward.”
McQuaid served as the director of anti-racism, equity and human rights services at George Brown College in Toronto before joining Western in September 2020. Previously, she was head of the University of Toronto’s personal safety, high-risk and sexual violence portfolio, and served as director of counselling and accessibility services at Seneca College, also in Toronto. She earned a doctor of clinical psychology and master’s of counselling psychology from Adler School of Psychology in Chicago, and is currently a consulting psychologist in Richmond Hill, Ont.
“I look forward to working with Terry to lead this important committee,” said Wathen. “Sexual and gender-based violence is pervasive in our society and we need to make Western a leader in addressing, and especially preventing, these forms of violence. This will be challenging, but also an opportunity to work across our campus and with the London community to implement real solutions.”
Wathen is a professor in the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing and a research scholar with the Faculty of Education’s Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children. Her research interests include gender-based violence, health equity and social justice, knowledge mobilization, public policy, and health information and communication.
Building the team
The Action Committee on Gender-Based and Sexual Violence will comprise students, employees and community partners.
The first six members appointed to join McQuaid and Wathen on the committee include Zamir Fakirani, University Students’ Council president; kirstyn seanor, Society of Graduate Students president; Lisa Highgate, associate director, residence conduct and conflict resolution; Katreena Scott, academic director for the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children; Jessie Rodger, executive director, Anova, a community organization supporting those who have faced gender-based violence; and Kimberly Reynolds, investigative staff sergeant, Western Special Constable Service.
The committee will be inviting four additional members to represent undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty and staff. Further details on the call for expressions of interest for an open seat on the committee will be available in the coming days.
The work ahead
The committee will focus on four important activities: listening to students’ and community members’ perspectives; identifying gaps and opportunities in policies; collecting ideas from other universities on their gender-based and sexual violence initiatives; and recommending measures for meaningful, immediate and visible change in Western’s campus culture.
In addition to actively engaging the community, the committee will also be guided by evidence as it pursues its mandate. It will initiate an open call to members of the Western community for relevant research, data and publications that may inform the committee’s work.
The action committee is part of Western’s comprehensive student safety plan that includes mandatory training for all students in residence on sexual violence awareness and prevention, increasing security across campus, hiring 100 new safety ambassadors, and re-establishing faculty sophs’ ability to access and support first-year students in residence.
“The work ahead is vast and it can be difficult,” Shepard said, “I have full confidence that with guidance from the action committee, we can take the necessary steps to fulfill our commitment to a safer campus community.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to add two more members who have since been appointed to the Action Committee. Western invites expressions of interest from undergraduate and graduate students, as well as from faculty and staff members from the Western, Brescia, Huron and King’s communities to sit on the Action Committee. One representative from each community group will be appointed. Please send expressions of interest to email@example.com by Oct. 15 at11:59 p.m.