By Donna Nadeem
McMaster University recently hired their first associate vice president (Equity and Inclusion). Arig al Shaibah, a vice-provost from Dalhousie University, will be starting her term on April 1.
Al Shaibah plans on engaging with the campus, local and historically underrepresented or underserved communities to insure that she is hearing all voices to understand and learn of the challenges and opportunities. She wants to ensure that she is aware of the various perspectives of the diverse communities in order to build strong ideas and strategies to advance the equity and inclusion goals at McMaster.
“McMaster is clear in its commitments, has invested in programs to support equity and inclusion and has been active in making sure the systems, structures and symbols are in place that are necessary for institutional change,” said al Shaibah.
“I have always been personally passionate about advancing equity and inclusion, perhaps in large part given my own lived experiences.”
Arig al Shaibah, Incoming associate vice president (Equity and Inclusion)
“My first task is to meet members of the campus and local communities — to listen and to develop our relationships as a foundation for working together moving forward. Trust and transparency are critical to doing this work ethically and effectively,” she added.
Currently, al Shaibah is the vice-provost and acting executive director at Dalhousie, and has also spent many years at Queen’s University, where she achieved a PhD in Cultural and Policy Studies. Her dissertation was about educational equity in higher education. At Queen’s, al Shaibah worked as the assistant dean of student affairs (student life and learning), where she focused on residence life, student transition and academic success.
At Dalhousie, al Shaibah worked as the vice-provost (Student Affairs) and acting executive directors (Human Rights & Equity Services). Al Shaibah also taught courses in feminist pedagogy and critical race studies during her time as a professor.
She also spent around a decade working for non-profit community organizations which support and advocate for diverse populations and for the past 15 years has worked in the university setting, helping advance equity and inclusion goals.
“I have always been personally passionate about advancing equity and inclusion, perhaps in large part given my own lived experiences. As I became more knowledgeable about inequities locally and globally, I began to feel a great sense of responsibility to use my agency personally and professionally to make a difference,” said al Shaibah.
Shaibah’s passion and experience about equity and inclusion through her own lived experiences made her become even more committed to supporting those who face inequities both locally and globally.
“Although the work can be emotional and challenging, I find it extremely empowering and rewarding to see efforts resulting in change,” she explained.
McMaster has put in efforts to support equity and inclusion programs, through their Equity and Inclusion Office that ensures that students, staff and faculty are all treated respectfully in all areas of campus life. Arig al Shaibah hopes to improve and clarify issues with inequities and inclusion.
“McMaster has expressed a commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion and there are obvious signs of this commitment across the institution. It will be important to consider where McMaster has been, where we want to go and how to get there together.”