New rules for icebreaker pairs


File Photo by Kha Vo
File Photo by Kha Vo

304 volunteer icebreakers for Orientation Week will not have to identify as a gender starting this year.

The Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union, with the help of the Diversity and Equity office, officially eliminated gender-based pairing when creating this year’s hired list.

Although applicants were asked on Laurier’s online application to identify themselves as male or female, gender was not taken into account for hiring. According to the Students’ Union, this practice will removed for future hiring sessions.

This removal is due to the Student Union’s attempt at moving away from unintentional gender-based discrimination.

Joanna Sadgrove, vice-president of finance and administration for the Students’ Union, said the Union and the Diversity and Equity office discussed this removal through the 2014-15 year.

“We understand that the gendered binary is a false construct and we don’t want to make our students associate themselves with the gender that perhaps they don’t identify with,” said Sadgrove. “We realized that it was a barrier to our students and it’s stopping people from wanting to volunteer because that’s something that they didn’t feel comfortable with.”

According to Sadgrove, the discussion on how to create a more inclusive environment on campus started when two students penned an open letter to university administration with their concerns of sexual violence on campus.

“Since that has come up, we have been working towards making a change,” she said.

According to Sadgrove, the removal of gendered-based pairs will benefit Laurier based on the culture change the Union is trying to create.

“It’s working with our volunteers, with everyone and with campus partners to make sure that we’re fostering an atmosphere of inclusiveness from the moment that first-years step onto campus.”

Kaipa Bharucha, vice-president of programming and services, believes the Students’ Union updated their hiring practice because people do not fall under a gender binary.

“The removal of gendered pairings is something that I fully support and stand behind. The conversation has come up within the Students’ Union before our current student team was hired and we decided to move forward with it this year after much conversation and research,” said Bharucha.

“The goal for our hiring of these positions moving forward is that we want to hire the 304 most enthusiastic, qualified and prepared volunteers. Gender is not a factor that affects that.”

Catherine Mulvihill, director of the student experience with the Students’ Union, worked with Bharucha and Sadgrove on the discussion of removing gender-pairing.

“Moving away from co-ed pairings allows for a more inclusive environment that no longer forces volunteers into an outdated, binary gender construct,” said Milvihill.


2 Responses to “New rules for icebreaker pairs”

  1. Devan Brennan Avatar

    So no one else is seeing the massive issue with this ?

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