Queen’s Black Academic Society is launching a remote mentorship program to pair self-identifying Black first-year students with an upper year mentor who can help them navigate the transition to Queen’s.
“Our mentorship program’s focus on linking self-identified first year students and upper year students is especially important because it offers a welcoming hand and support in navigating experiences specific to BIPOC students at a predominantly white institution,” Michaela Patterson, leader of the QBAS mentorship program, wrote in a statement to The Journal.
Though the Black Lives Matter Movement has been prevalent in the media over the last few months, Patterson said the need for a program that allows self-identified Black students to connect and support each other stretches far beyond the more recent surge of consciousness about the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Racism is still a problem at Queen’s, said Patterson, and QBAS provides a strong community for Black individuals so they can combat discrimination and prejudice as a group rather than standing alone.
Mentors in the program provide resources, advice, and empathy to ensure a smooth transition to Queen’s both academically and socially.
“The ongoing Black Lives Matter Movement emphasizes community strengthening, a focus on the advancement of black populations, and resisting anti-black racism—all goals of our program,” Patterson wrote.
“It’s disheartening to say, but many Black students at Queen’s can recount a time where they experienced microaggressions, discomfort, felt unsafe, or were targets of hate speech.”
Since the University confirmed the majority of classes will be held remotely in the 2020-21 year, QBAS transferred its program to an online setting.
Although the remote setting has its challenges, Patterson said the mentorship program is important for creating a safe community, especially for students feeling isolated.
“The remote setting of the program this year also makes it more convenient to facilitate communication and interaction between the mentee and mentors because they don’t have to rely on physical proximity,” Patterson wrote.
QBAS facilitates many academic and professional opportunities for students. Patterson said one advantage of the program being held remotely is that it fosters even more networking opportunities to members beyond the scope of the club’s events.
“We hope that the remote setting of our mentorship program will encourage students to see that sites, like LinkedIn and social media, offer a vast networking pool that they can tap into outside of organized events and programs,” she wrote.
Patterson added that QBAS’ mentorship program is “especially important” this year because it’s designed to help participants overcome feelings of isolation and disconnection.
“We want first-year students to know that there is a community here that will support and guide them,” she said.
Applications to participate in the program are due Oct. 11.
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