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Highlighting student advocacy and equity at Queen’s

As part of Queen's University’s response to the findings of the first campus climate survey, the Student Experiences Survey, a number of events and initiatives have been undertaken this winter to centre the experiences of equity-deserving students, to provide opportunities for dialogue around a number of topics outlined in the survey, and to receive feedback on the steps towards improving campus culture.

Student Voices Week, running from March 27-April 2, features a variety of activities that amplify and celebrate equity-deserving student voices at Queen’s and is being run in partnership with campus partners and student groups.

The work to reflect on the survey results and shift campus culture has been facilitated a dedicated position in Student Affairs and is guided by the project’s Student Advisory Group.

“The results of the Student Experiences Survey show that equity-deserving students are disproportionately impacted by issues such as harassment, discrimination, exclusion, and sexual violence,” says Student Inclusion and Engagement Coordinator Taryn McKenna. “In our meetings, events and other outreach to students, we speak about these challenges and provide opportunities for dialogue, education and the development of ideas around improving campus culture at Queen’s.”

Programming this term has included several social media initiatives on Instagram, as well as open student feedback sessions, when students were invited to meet and discuss the survey results, and suggest areas of improvement, and ideas for actions. Conversations with staff and students from the Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre, Yellow House, and Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) are ongoing.

One initiative to help advance the findings of the survey was the creation of a monthly Sunday Supper Series. The first supper event was held virtually in late February on the topic of Creating Safe & Affirming Spaces for Trans, Non-Binary & Two-Spirit Peers. Attendees learned more about the survey results, and participated in a panel discussion featuring Dawn Martin, a Two Spirit gender fluid community leader and Seed Keeper, and Elliot Chapple, Director, EDII, in the Faculty of Arts and Science.

The next Sunday Supper Series will take place in person during Student Voices Week and will be on the topic of Creating a Culture of Consent at Queen’s. This event is a collaboration with the student group Consensual Humans and the student-led Gender Based Violence Awareness and Bystander Intervention Program Facilitators.

“We are making content updates in the Bystander Intervention Training to allow for more engagement with topics related to privilege, identity, and intersectionality,” says Husna Ghanizada, a third-year health sciences student who is the Education Outreach and Operations Student Coordinator for the Gender-Based Violence Awareness and Bystander Intervention Program and student advisor for the Student Experience Survey. “It has been rewarding to see how involved students have been in responding to the results of the SES. It shows that as students, we stand united in our efforts to create a safer and more inclusive campus.” 

Student Voices Week features student groups running information booths and drop-in sessions, as well as interactive, pop-up events. In addition, events include a ‘Crafternoon and Conversation’ activity hosted by Interfaith Chaplain Erin Burns, a sharing circle at the Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre and a session on Addressing Microaggressions in Academic Settings hosted by QUIC, Student Academic Success Services (SASS), and the SES team.

“Creating a truly equitable campus will not be an easy process,” McKenna says. “But through shared responsibility and a unified commitment towards a meaningful and lasting culture shift, we have hope that all students can feel safe and welcome on this campus.”

For details about all Student Voices Week events and ongoing engagements, visit the Student Experience Survey website’s page on Student Opportunities and Initiatives