May 14, 2021 – Update from the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee

Respect is a core Value of our community. When we’re at our best, it’s alive in every interaction and decision. At the same time, we know that we have much to learn, including what it means to be a fully equitable, diverse and inclusive community.

On November 20, 2020, Head of School Mark Turner announced that Dr. Moussa Magassa will be taking on the role of SMUS’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Guide.

We have created a community-nominated EDI Advisory Committee to work alongside our guide to advise and support the work. The purpose of the EDI Advisory Committee is to represent stakeholder groups in the SMUS community related but not limited to themes of equity, diversity and inclusion, as well as the intersectionality of those themes. The Committee represents a cross-section of our community, including alumni, parents, students, faculty and staff.

It is now time to formally engage with our stakeholders to draw from your experiences in a way that helps to assess our situation, establish concrete action steps, and track the degree to which our daily behaviour matches our aspirations. The Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Survey, to be sent later this month, will help us better understand the needs of our community as it will highlight areas of strength or improvement, and inform targeted follow-up conversations with individuals and focus groups.

Ultimately, we aim to create an EDI plan for SMUS to develop or improve specific programs, policies, and practices that will support our school moving forward.

A survey will be sent via email by the end of May. We want to ensure that the EDI Survey is accessible to all stakeholders in the SMUS community. If you need assistance accessing this survey when it arrives, or know someone who needs support, please email Dr. Moussa Magassa, who will make every effort to provide you with the assistance in a timely fashion.


Here are answers to some questions about the survey that we anticipate may arise.

SMUS EDI Survey – Frequently Asked Questions

What is Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion?

Equity is defined as the removal of systemic barriers and biases enabling all individuals to have equal opportunity to access and benefit from the program. To achieve this, all individuals who are part of the organization must develop a strong understanding of the systemic barriers faced by individuals from underrepresented groups (e.g., women, persons with disabilities, Indigenous Peoples, racialized minorities, individuals from the LGBTQ2S+ community) and put in place impactful measures to address these barriers.

Diversity is defined as differences in race, colour, place of origin, religion, immigrant and newcomer status, ethnic origin, ability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and age.

Inclusion is defined as the practice of ensuring that all individuals are valued and respected for their contributions and equally supported.

Source: Best Practices in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Research

What is EDI at SMUS?

Our current Statement on EDI is: St. Michaels University School defines Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in the broadest sense, including but not limited to sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, ability, appearance, ethnicity, culture, race, beliefs, and socio-economic background. In addressing equity, diversity and inclusion at SMUS, we are guided by our core Values: respect, courage, honesty, and service.

Who is on the SMUS EDI Advisory Committee and what are they responsible for?

The responsibilities of the EDI Advisory Committee, along with biographies of each of the members of the committee, can be found here.

What is the SMUS EDI Survey about?

The SMUS EDI Survey has been created by Dr. Magassa and the EDI Advisory Committee to collect demographic information along with current and past experiences of members of the SMUS community with respect to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at our school. This is a tool used to take the pulse of the respondents related to various aspects of school life to help pinpoint areas where we can make the biggest improvements moving forward.

What security measures will be taken to keep my data safe?

The survey will be administered using SurveyMonkey, which encrypts data in transit and at rest using secure TLS cryptographic protocols. (More information about the security provisions of SurveyMonkey is available at: SurveyMonkey Security Statement.) The EDI Advisory Committee will never reveal your raw data to anyone. Data will be removed from the SurveyMonkey servers once the survey closes and the EDI committee has received it for purposes of analysis.

What will I be asked?

You will be asked to consider questions about your experiences and about yourself. There are different sections: General Impressions, Demographic Profile, Sense of Being Welcomed, Representation, Access to Opportunities, Safety at SMUS, Direct Experiences, and Recommendations.

Some of the questions seem personal. Why are you asking them?

Some of the questions, particularly in the demographics section of the survey, might seem a bit personal. The EDI committee knows that the SMUS community is made up of diverse individuals, and understanding the scope of our diversity will help us to continue to ensure that SMUS is inclusive for all. The combined results will be communicated broadly and serve as a tool for improvements.

What if I don’t want to answer a question or multiple questions?

If there are any questions you do not want to answer, simply move on to the next question. Each question has the option for participants to choose “Prefer not to disclose.” There are no required questions for you to answer. We do ask you to keep in mind that the more information we have, the better we will be able to pinpoint areas of priority.

Who is invited to participate in the online survey?

The SMUS EDI Survey will be sent to all stakeholders in the SMUS community. If the school has your email address as a parent, alumnus, faculty or staff member, you will be given the opportunity to complete the survey. Students at the Senior School will be completing a similar survey.

Is my participation mandatory?

No, the survey is fully voluntary, but the EDI Advisory Committee does hope that you participate. Your voice matters, and more complete information will result in a more accurate understanding of the EDI landscape at SMUS and more useful recommendations to bring forward.

Who will know if I participated?

Your participation will be anonymous. Your name and email address will not be collected on the survey. There is an option to include your email at the end of the survey as one way to participate in a focus group or interview. If you include that information, it will be removed from the data before it is analyzed by the committee.

When will the survey be available?

The EDI Advisory Committee has spent a considerable amount of time working on the survey to make sure we are asking the right questions. Our goal has been ensuring that we will have adequate information to use for understanding the EDI landscape at SMUS. We intend to email the survey by the end of May, and it will be open for one week.

How long will the online survey take to complete?

The survey will take approximately 20-25 minutes.

What will SMUS do with the results?

Dr. Magassa and the EDI Advisory Committee will be responsible for providing SMUS with a final report and recommendations based on the survey information, focus groups, and individual conversations. We anticipate an initial report being presented in October 2021. The report and recommendations will assist in further developing our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Plan.

Who do I contact if I have more questions or need support throughout this survey process?

Please reach out to Dr. Moussa Magassa, who will make every effort to provide you with any information and avenues for support you may require in a timely fashion. If you have any questions for members of the EDI Advisory Committee, please be in touch with Dr. Magassa so he can put you in contact with the committee member.

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