My name is Shirleen Datt, and I am running for the Equity Officer position at CUPE 3906, this will be my second time running!  Currently, I am a graduate student and Teaching Assistant in the School of Labour Studies at McMaster University.

In April 2019, I was elected by the members of CUPE3906 for the position of Equity Officer. I helped oversee that the work done by the union is performed through an equity lens. Through my work at CUPE3906, I have assisted members in understanding their rights under the Ontario Human Rights Code, McMaster University’s Respectful Work and Learning Environment Policy, CUPE3906’s Collective Agreement, as well as McMaster University’s Sexual Violence Response Protocol. My good breath of knowledge of university policies and protocols will be essential for the position of Equity Officer. I believe this position will help me raise awareness initiatives on racism, anti-oppression and other human rights related issues at McMaster.

In September 2019, I helped launch a campus-wide campaign with the Equity Action and Women’s Committee and for free personal hygiene products for McMaster’s Teaching Assistants and CUPE3906 members. Together we were successful in getting personal hygiene products in Women’s washrooms across McMaster. We were able to extend this initiative to purchase diva cups for our members this past winter. We received over 100 emails and have a waiting-list with over 90 people on it! During my time as Equity Officer, I will remain committed to tackling period poverty on campus and will be requesting additional funding for more menstrual cups at the June GMM!

The extent of my involvement in extracurricular activities has not only taught me how to be a proficient leader, but also a reliable team member. I believe my work experience in concert with my own social justice initiatives are aligned with the Local’s Equity Statement. The Equity Officer position will allow me to utilize both my work experiences and interest in social justice to further the Local’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. For example, I teamed up with other executive members to create a ‘working Land Acknowledgement’. Rather than using a blanket statement, we decided it is important to highlight how the union is staying accountable to the efforts being made by indigenous communities across Turtle Island, including Black and Communities of Colour.

I hope to engage in similar practices and processes that interrupt, address and highlight systems of inequality and power which exist – even at McMaster.  I believe my robust engagement in initiatives at both the Local and commitment to social justice sets me apart from other candidates.

Shirleen Datt