As a PhD student at Dal, I really enjoyed reading Danielle Gaitor's articulate and personal piece on inclusion ("More than just a diversity initiative," Voice of The City, April 18). As a white female Canadian I am more privileged than most, and not able to personally identify with most of Gaitor's challenges. Still, her perspective resonated with me as I know that academia is systemically flawed in many ways, and I can't imagine how overwhelming it must be to feel like you don't belong in a room simply because of your race and cultural background. Access to more perspectives like hers are vital, and I would also appreciate additional thoughts on ways we can be allies with our peers who face such discrimination.
Recently, many male colleagues have asked me for practical advice on how to be more supportive of women in science, and I have given them suggestions such as avoiding all-male panels/papers, or making sure the first question in a seminar goes to a woman for a more gender-balanced discussion. Many of the men I made these suggestions to were surprised, so I have realized that what is obvious to me may not be obvious to those who do not share my worldview. These also seem like good approaches for inclusion of other minorities, but I want to be supportive of my colleagues but not condescending or tokenist—like Danielle says, "we are more than a diversity initiative." To that end, suggestions on how to make space for all voices on a day-to-day level would be wonderful. —Laurenne Schiller, Halifax
I feel the recent edition on menstrual poverty is actually part of a bigger issue—the issue being in-crowd or popular-clique politics ("Blood money," cover story by Sandra C. Hannebohm, May 2). They assume that only certain people "matter," and if you "matter" you can pay, while the rest of us cannot access the kinds of jobs to pay the four-figure per month rent on proper up-and-coming neighbourhoods. If we could bring back the idea, all too common in the developing world, where girls stay home from school for weeks due to menstruation, so much the better: The popular clique does not have to deal with them.
We appear to have created a nouveau caste system based entirely upon these attitudes, and when governments make figures on how much a family can live on, they fail to consider participating in this society, because the people that matter already have more money and do not need to worry about these things. We talk about voter turnout being low at election time, but if the little guy assumes their vote is not going to matter, why cast a ballot?
Even though menstrual health might be an essential, there is still somebody who might turn it into a double standard. I feel governments need to say no to the influence, no to the in crowd, no to the people who can pay to have it their way when under a democracy. The government is supposed to be by the people, with the people, for the people, et cetera. Menstrual health is only the latest manifestation of this, but the bigger issue is with politics where only certain people "matter." —Allistair Fraser, Halifax