Speak Up: Focus Groups Aim to Improve Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Residence Life at Carleton University

Students lead the charge when it comes to improving equity, diversity and inclusion within the Carleton University home community.

Peer-led focus groups for BIPOC and LGBTQ2s + students on campus were held throughout November in the Leeds Residence building on campus. They aimed to open a dialogue for marginalized students to offer their perspective on campus life and spark a discussion about what, if anything, needs to change.

Carleton Residence Services teamed up with Fellows-in-Residence and other student staff at these meetings open to any student who identifies with the BIPOC and / or LGBTQ2s + communities. They hoped that the discussion would allow governing bodies to better understand issues of equity, diversity and inclusion experienced in residence.

These focus groups followed the introduction of residential affinity groups. These are intended to be a space for marginalized students to come together “to feel more comfortable and connected to others in their community”, as mentioned on their Instagram.

Ameera Ali explains why she hosts campus discussion groups and why she thinks they are important.

Ameera Ali, a fourth-year journalism student and Lennox and Addington Building Fellow, moderated the BIPOC Affinity Group as well as some of the focus group sessions.

“The feedback they gave us was actually what I expected but some of it was also a bit surprising and kinda like, damn it always happens,” she said. .

Last March, an EDI action plan was published. Ali said the focus groups were the first step in launching the campus inclusion plan, as they allow residence departments “to get direct feedback from students living on campus.”

Ali said the sessions she facilitated garnered plenty of feedback from marginalized students on campus and shed light on the issues they face.

Austina Yu, a Community Developer with Residence Services, helps organize events and games to engage the Residence community. She also monitors social media and supports interns in residence.

She said it is important to set up these spaces for marginalized students, especially those who live on campus.

“The students arrive with experiences they have had in residence that they want to talk about or things that they have thought to share but have had no place to give their opinion to anyone,” he said. she declared.

Austina Yu explains why spaces like these focus groups are important for the residency.

Former Carleton University resident Tafadzwa (Fafi) Tanyanyiwa said these efforts are an important step in making the residence experience more comfortable for marginalized students.

“I would have loved to have these spaces when I was in residence for the past two years,” she said.

Yu said Carleton Residence Services appear to actively try to improve residence life for students who identify with marginalized groups; their Social media offers links to resources and information on a variety of topics such as mental health, LGBTQ2 +, truth and reconciliation, and more.

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