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Official launch of the Parliament 51 statement

September 5, 2019
Official launch of the Parliament 51 statementImage caption: credits and explanation

In 2017, senior management at University College Dublin reached out to its Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group with a challenge: over the course of 8 months, develop, draft and implement a vital Gender Identity and Expression Policy for the University. By the start of 2018, the policy was being rolled out after a rigorous consultation process involving students, teachers, university staff and management. INvolve spoke with Dr. Conor Buggy, EDI LGBTI Subgroup Chair, to uncover how they went about creating a policy that was just the second of its kind in Ireland.

Tell us a bit more about the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group (EDI).

Embedding the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion across University College Dublin (UCD) is considered a core strategy for our success in attracting and retaining an excellent and diverse cohort of students, faculty, and staff from across the world. The promotion of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is our collective responsibility so that we can provide a safe and welcoming environment where everyone can contribute and reach their full potential. One of our main objectives when we established this group in 2015 was to mainstream EDI into all aspects of University life. As this group has broad representation from key areas, networks and groups across the University, this enables us to engage with key stakeholders who will champion and promote the EDI agenda. Our EDI group was founded to support that and drive it forward as a central aspect of our university community.

Image caption: credits and explanation

It was very important that the team put in place to develop and consult on the policy and guidelines were from all parts of the university, so we had very senior academic and management involvement all the way through to Student Union involvement. It made for a very diverse and strong team, with many opinions and ideas that helped focus the policy’s development. The University Management Team were consulted on the policy at numerous intervals throughout its development which was essential to get their buy-in.

You had an 8 month deadline to design and implement the policy – how did you go about ensuring you both met the deadline and made the policy as comprehensive and effective as it could be?

A team of thirteen very dedicated people can do great things when under time pressure. Regular meetings and work packages were implemented in subgroups to ensure the workload would be fair and that drafting the policy would be an iterative process with input from everyone on the team. Having specific deadlines to present a complete draft and then a final policy to the management team meant we had a specific time frame to work within. We had to ensure that our consultation processes were included in that timeframe so working to the deadlines gave us the impetus to develop the policy in what many consider to be a very tight turn-around from inception to completion.

Why is it essential for UCD to keep students involved in the EDI’s efforts?

Rules and regulations often do not allow for flexibility or enhancement of anything and can lead to stagnation. From the outset we realised that this policy could be used to educate our whole community on gender identity as well as ensuring that our staff and students that needed this policy would get what they needed to flourish and be open here in UCD. We wanted the community to realise that UCD values diversity and sees it as a strength rather than as a weakness or a hindrance. So we saw the policy as an opportunity to express that and to make our community culture more engaged and open in relation to gender identity and expression.

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