February 27, 2020
Vianne Timmons – President
Tom Chase – Provost and VP Academic
John Smith – AVP Student Affairs
Re: New AVP plans
It has come to our attention that the University of Regina plans to move the ta-tawâw Student Centre out of Student Affairs under a newly created AVP position along with the Office of Indigenization. We have several concerns about the timing, rationale, consultation process, and potential impacts of this reorganization, which we would like directed to whoever was responsible for making this decision. As a fellow student centre on this campus, RPIRG has worked with the ta-tawâw Student Centre on several events and initiatives over the years. We have seen how their work as community builders, advocates, mentors, and leaders is vital to supporting Indigenous students as well as providing opportunities for building cultural understanding among all University of Regina students.
First; the timing of this decision causes us to question the intent and rationale behind the move. In response to the Woodrow Lloyd Lecture of George Elliot Clarke, the University was loudly and publicly reminded that its commitment to Indigenization must include meaningful consultation with Indigenous communities. We would like to see the University demonstrate that they are taking this reminder to heart and putting it in action. We therefore ask the following questions for clarification:
1) Who proposed and/or presented this reorganization for consideration?
2) What is the rationale for this decision? Was this being considered before the above issue occurred?
3) How was this proposal or decision informed by consultation with the campus community, including the Indigenous Advisory Circle?
4) Since the new AVP position will be decided by appointment, how will community consultation with entities like the Indigenous Advisory Circle be continued into the selection and appointment process? Who will be responsible for hiring?
Second; we want to make sure the ta-tawâw Student Centre is able to continue the important work they do. We therefore ask these additional questions for clarification:
5) How will this affect the budgetary and administrative resources the centre has to provide services?
6) Will this new structure impact the ta-tawâw Student Centre’s ability to autonomously respond to the needs of students, and advocate on behalf of students who use this resource centre?
7) Furthermore; by moving these two entities –the ta-tawâw Student Centre and the Office of Indigenization—under one AVP position, we are concerned about the risk of them becoming siloed away from the rest of the campus. Is the University of Regina limiting the diversity of Indigenous voices on matters of Indigenization and Indigenous student support, and risking the tokenization of a single Indigenous AVP?
We encourage you to answer these questions publicly and make time to meet with staff and students who may have questions about what this reorganization means for them. We are sure you can appreciate how vital it is to be transparent and very clear about this process moving forward, in order to begin rebuilding trust with those who have been impacted by previous decisions.
We look forward to hearing a response from those who were involved in making these changes.
Regina Public Interest Research Group (RPIRG)