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Understanding student experiences to help inform change

Queen’s consults students on equity, diversity, inclusion, Indigenization, and sexual violence on campus as key part of university's Declaration of Commitment to Address Systemic Racism.

Queen's Student Experience Survey
The Student Experiences Survey is set to run from March 4 to March 26, 2021.

Queen’s will soon issue its first-ever Student Experiences Survey – a wide-ranging and in-depth initiative to understand systemic racism, exclusionary and discriminatory behaviours, and sexual violence on campus. The pilot survey is the first step in establishing comprehensive baseline data from which the university can assess and develop initiatives that will make the university a more diverse, inclusive, and safe environment for everyone. The intention is to distribute the survey to students every two years in order to measure changes in campus climate over time.

“Establishing a full picture of the student experience at Queen’s is a crucial step in moving toward a more equitable and welcoming university community,” says Stephanie Simpson, Associate Vice-Principal (Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusion). “Students hold deeply meaningful insights that can aid us in developing data-driven actions that will truly improve aspects of campus life for all, particularly students who experience marginalization and violence. We urge all Queen’s students to participate.”

The survey is divided into two equally important sections. One consults students on their thoughts and experiences pertaining to equity, diversity, inclusion, and Indigenization (EDII) at the university. Questions cover a broad array of subject matter, such as experiences with discrimination or harassment, feelings of belonging, and food insecurity.

These insights will strengthen the foundation on which Queen’s is building and adapting comprehensive initiatives to fulfill its Declaration of Commitment to Address Systemic Racism. The survey data will also illuminate the current state of EDII on campus, which will help gauge reach and effectiveness of new strategies to improve the climate.

“Incorporating the principles of equity, diversity, inclusivity, and Indigenization broadly and deeply into the fabric of our campus community is one to which Queen’s is fully committed,” says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, who issued the Declaration alongside the university’s senior leaders in August 2020. “In developing a more complete appreciation of our students’ lived experiences, our efforts to improve the nature and quality of our university will be more effectively designed and our progress more easily measured.”

The other section seeks to understand student perceptions and experiences with sexual violence on campus. Information gathered here will add to metrics from prior sexual violence surveys – one issued by Queen’s in 2015, and another province-wide government survey conducted in 2018. This data will shed light on these issues and the effectiveness of current programming in helping to reduce sexual violence and support those affected by it.

“Preventing and responding to sexual violence on university campuses has been an issue of important focus for Queen’s, and our colleagues across the post-secondary sector, for some time,” says Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs. “Hearing from our students ensures we can assess the effectiveness of our prevention and support programs to ensure we are responsive to student needs and providing a safe and inclusive environment for students and our community.”

The survey will be emailed directly to all Queen’s students on March 4 and will remain open for completion until March 26, and individual submissions will remain completely anonymous.

The university is committed to advancing intentional and necessary work to address and reduce barriers to inclusion, and acknowledges and appreciates the student labour involved in completing this survey to help inform this work.

An analysis of the information collected by this survey will be shared with the campus community following its review. Students will be engaged in future decision-making and implementation of new strategies stemming from its insights.

For more information on the survey’s background, design and definitions, answers to frequently asked questions, and a list of student supports, visit the Inclusive Queen’s website.