Dalhousie University, based in the Canadian city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, has announced it will only be seeking “racially visible and Indigenous candidates” for a senior management position in order to encourage diversity.
The university put out an email to announce the vacancy for the position of vice-provost of student affairs, which was previously held by Dr. Arig al Shaibah, who also comes from a visible minority background. Provost and vice-president academic Carolyn Watters, who wrote the email, claimed that the move was to increase representation from “underrepresented groups”, CBC reports.
“In keeping with the principles of our employment equity policy, and with an aim to increase the representation of under-represented groups at Dalhousie, this search for a new vice-provost student affairs will be restricted to racially visible persons and Aboriginal peoples at this time,” Watters wrote.
Dalhousie student union president Amina Abawajy, who works with the vice-provost, is on the hiring committee, and comes from a minority Muslim background, said: “When issues of especially equity, diversity and inclusion come up, it’s really great to not have to explain where I’m coming from or where students are coming from — to really know that this person has an understanding of intersectional oppression and forms of oppression and how they manifest on campus.”
The university’s assistant vice-president for human resources Jasmine Walsh argued against those who might allege the hiring practices are discriminatory rather than hiring by individual merit.
“From my perspective, there isn’t a merit argument that runs counter to this. In fact, this actually is the way for us to develop the most meritorious faculty and staff population,” she said.
The publicly-funded university is only the latest organisation that receives Canadian taxpayer cash to exclude white candidates from positions based on their race. The CBC itself has been the subject of controversy in the past for ads that excluded white applicants.
In CBC’s own hiring practices, they say: “Where under-representation exists, preference will be given to equally qualified candidates who are members of the groups designated by the Employment Equity Act: women, aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minority groups.”
The French-speaking public broadcaster Radio Canada, based in the province of Quebec, has also labelled the public sector in the province “too white” claiming that not enough ethnic minorities are represented in the public workforce.