Queen’s shares results of 2023 campus culture and climate survey

Queen's Shift Survey

Queen’s shares results of 2023 campus culture and climate survey

September 21, 2023


The Queen’s Shift Survey seeks to better understand systemic racism, exclusionary and discriminatory behaviours, as well as student perceptions of safety, campus culture, and connectedness.

More than 3,500 students – over 11 per cent of the student population – completed the campus climate survey in January and February 2023, and respondents had the opportunity to comment about safety, suggest actions to improve campus culture, and provide additional feedback.

Survey results are consistent with 2021 findings with two notable differences: students are reporting more incidents of harassment and discrimination, as well as increased experiences with food and housing insecurity. Across all survey topics, students with equity-deserving identities continue to report more negative experiences, and perceptions of campus culture and climate.

“Our students have unmistakably highlighted ongoing concerns related to violence, oppression, and exclusion on our campus that we are committed to addressing," says Stephanie Simpson, Vice-Principal (Culture, Equity, and Inclusion). "The survey responses serve as another poignant call to action – much work remains to be done. We will continue to confront these challenging truths and employ strategies to shift the campus culture to one that is more welcoming, and inclusive for all.”

A report of the results, now available on the Queen’s Shift Project website, is organized by topic. It details responses by student group and includes a sampling of the student feedback.

“Student voices are the cornerstone of meaningful change,” says Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs Ann Tierney.  “We are sincerely grateful to all students who shared their lived experiences and insights that will guide us toward creating a more equitable, safe, and empowering environment. We are listening, we care, and we are committed to action.”

Among respondents overall:

  • 51 per cent felt welcomed and supported by peers, regardless of their background and identity
  • 69 per cent felt comfortable sharing their perspectives and experiences in class, while 29 per cent of respondents heard instructors express stereotypes based on identity
  • 29 per cent reported experiencing harassment and discrimination, up from 18 per cent in 2021
  • 39 per cent of respondents reported they often or sometimes couldn’t afford to eat nutritious meals, up from 24 per cent in 2021
  • 28 per cent of respondents reported they often or sometimes couldn’t afford to buy more food after running out, up from 16 per cent in 2021
  • 12 per cent of respondents experienced housing insecurity, up from 8 per cent in 2021

Student engagement with the results will be facilitated through the Queen’s Shift Project, a collection of events and initiatives, guided by a longstanding Student Advisory Group, that aims to build allyship and improve campus culture. Activities this fall include a social media video series, and discussions about advocacy, ally mental health, and allyship within faith traditions. Last week, the Shift Project partnered with the Yellow House for Doors Open, an event that invited equity-deserving students to learn about and visit relevant campus spaces, resources and supports. The project’s Allyship and Belonging Student Calendar lists all upcoming opportunities to get involved in the dialogue.

 “We owe it to each other to create spaces where everyone feels not just seen, but valued and celebrated,” says Abby Baillargeon, Shift Project Student Lead and member of the Student Advisory Group. “Unfortunately, the burden of advocacy often falls on the shoulders of equity-deserving folks. It is crucial that we as students build a culture of accountability where we are standing up to instances of oppression both on a macro and micro scale. We hold a lot of power and can wield it to create a momentous force of positive, kind, and inclusive change to campus culture.”

The Shift Survey and The Shift Project are aligned with the institutional goal of living our values, and ensuring all members feel respected, safe, valued, and empowered to thrive. This work also responds to Queen's senior leadership’s Declaration of commitment to address systemic racism, and advances UN Sustainable Development Goals, including Good Health and Wellbeing, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Reduced Inequalities and Zero Hunger. 

The Shift Survey is a partnership of the Office of the Vice-Principal (Culture, Equity, and Inclusion) and the Office of the Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs, and was administered and analyzed by the Office of Institutional Research and Planning.

Faculty and staff are encouraged to review the results and identify actions in their areas that respond to the data and strive to improve the campus culture and climate.

“I'm constantly reminded that a campus isn't defined by buildings or courses, but by the community that inhabits it,” says Taryn McKenna, Student Inclusion and Engagement Coordinator in the Student Experience Office in Student Affairs. “Students have the capacity to bring a truly inclusive culture to life. Their input, advocacy, and allyship are indispensable as we strive to better understand and address the complexities of campus climate and culture. Together, we can move from awareness to action, and from action to meaningful change.”

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