This past April, graduate and undergraduate Education students, hosted a student panel discussion event to increase the awareness of discrimination and diversity in educational settings. This event was sponsored by the Queen's Faculty of Education in conjunction with Student Affairs and the Society of Graduate & Professional Students.
Students in the Faculty of Education organized an anti-discrimination event planning committee in response to the incident of racial discrimination that occurred on Queen's campus in November, 2007. Since there was an overwhelming willingness of Education students to participate in such an event, they decided to use this response as an opportunity to provide a forum for the Queen's community at large to dialogue about various types of discrimination. Various students, student groups and equity departments across Queen's volunteered to set up information booths and artwork that enriched this event.
(Some of the information booths at the Students Speak Forum - from L to R - Ban Righ, Four Directions, Sexual Health Resource Centre)
This event worked to foster community building at Queen's and provided a forum for students, faculty, administrators and staff to teach and learn from each other. Attendees listened to each other speak on issues of discrimination in education and increased their awareness of important issues that may influence curriculum design and delivery in the future.
The Anti-Discrimination Event Planning Committee was led by Event Coordinator, Alicia Kelly (M.Ed candidate) with AssistantsTessa Mueller (M.Ed international student) and Jovan Groen (M.Ed candidate), as well as Jasmattie Yamraj, Angel Lau, Gloria Thomas, Christopher DeLuca, Theodore Christou, Laurie Palmer, Catherine Currie, Haiyan Li, Anita Davies, Jaya Karsemeyer, Majid Malekan, Rachel Nawrot, Antoinette Thornton, Wanda Beyer, Jean-Pierre Laglois, Ariel Hunt-Brondwin, making up the group.
The event consisted of two discussion panels. The first panel, "what are the issues in educational settings" - involved defining discrimination, diversity and a conversation about how people recognize and enable privilege when moving toward a culture of equity. Moderated by Ariel Hunt-Brondwin (teacher candidate in Outdoor & Experiential Education), the panelists were (from Left to Right after Moderator):
The second panel discussion was moderated by Gloria Thomas, a PhD student, a member of the Onondaga Nation and working as an instructor and faculty liaison for the Aboriginal Teacher Education program at Queen's. There were three major points surrounding this discussion:
Panelists for this session were (left to right):
Although none of these issues will be resolved overnight, the discussions increased the awareness necessary to prompt more action. Students, faculty and staff had comments on the event:
"The anti-discrimination event was the most informative event I've been to this year and I'm really glad that I didn't miss it! Congratulations on doing such a great job!" (Salme Ahmadian-Hossini, Bachelor of Education candidate).
"I've done lots of these student panel events over the years, and this surpassed anything I've ever seen, in scope, attendance, and depth. It was an awesome kick-off to what will hopefully be many more such discussions all over campus." (Barbara Roberts, PhD in Education candidate and panelist).
"The location of the panel at the Faculty of Education was important in itself, as educators are in the privileged position of helping to shape the mindsets of today's youth, and need to be aware of the powerful and sometimes devastating lifetime effects of discrimination." (Andrea DiStefano-Power, Bachelor of Education candidate)
"It was with pleasure to listen to the voices of many students who I have not previously heard and to get a sense of the community among the students that has developed. There was a genuineness about the discussion last night that has been lacking in meetings among faculty for a long time. Thanks to you and everyone involved for reminding us of what is really important." (Dr Sheryl Bond, Professor in Education).
"It was an impressive evening--you gained support within the student body on West and East campuses, and support of faculty members and all the administrators you spoke with. It was great to see grad and BEd. students working together, and to have Jason Laker and so many students from other faculties involved. You broke through a lot of barriers by involving all those groups. I am a great believer in supporting students, but letting them find out how much they can really do themselves. And you saw--you can do a lot!" (Dr. Nancy Hutchinson, Professor in Education and Out-going Graduate Students Coordinator in the Faculty of Education)
"The event, in my opinion, was exceptional. I particularly like that you included various campus groups to display, and put such an eclectic panel together. I was so pleased to see such a significant willingness of attendees and the Education Faculty and students generally to participate in this important dialogue." (Associate V.P. & Dean Jason Laker).