Beyond the limestone buildings and trailing ivy, Queen’s is trying to get a picture of how students experience campus.
The Queen’s Student Experience Survey is a survey designed to collect information about the current campus climate and issues facing students. It’s available for completion from March 4-26.
The survey, which is available to all undergraduate and graduate students via their Queen’s email, is the first of its kind at Queen’s.
“Elements of the survey build on past research, including the provincial Student Voices on Sexual Violence survey, that is informing the work of the university’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Task Force,” Stephanie Simpson, associate vice-principal (human rights, equity and inclusion), wrote in a statement to The Journal.
“The survey has also been informed by diversity, equity, inclusion, and Indigenization initiatives to date. It is our intent in creating this tool that the Student Experience Survey be a recurring survey that will provide insights both at a point in time, as well as into trends over time.”
The survey questions focus on the use of campus spaces during the last year, involvement in clubs, student government, athletics, and experiences and perceptions of diversity and inclusion, food security, sexual violence, and domestic violence in the Queen’s community.
This survey is unique from other surveys put out in the past because of the broad range of topics it covers within the context of the Queen’s campus environment.
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The University is hoping to identify strengths and areas for improvement based on current perceptions and experiences through the survey results. This survey will be conducted annually to collect year-over-year progress on key initiatives.
“Creating a more equitable, inclusive, and diverse community in which all students, faculty, and staff feel safe and welcome to participate is a University priority,” Simpson wrote.
“Last year, Principal Deane and the university’s senior leadership signed the Declaration of Commitment to Address Systemic Racism and the Student Experiences Survey will be an important tool for informing the fulfillment of that commitment.”
While student participation is voluntary, Simpson said the University is hoping students see the survey as an opportunity to inform future actions and continue “to see the university’s accountability for taking concrete steps to make the campus environment better for everyone.”
The survey doesn’t ask for any identifying information and responses remain anonymous. When a report on the survey results is shared with the campus community, the responses will be reported in terms of groups, such as by faculty, instead of individual cases.
“Feedback gathered through the survey […] can be used in a variety of ways to identify how well existing policies as well as programs are working to achieve desired outcomes, or where there are gaps that could be addressed through changes or additional policy considerations, based on students’ lived experiences.”
The survey report will be used to establish a common set of findings and metrics that can inform equity, diversity, inclusion, and indigeneity (EDII) conversations happening with leaders working on institutional and policy change across the University, Simpson said.
Students will also be involved in the decision-making about next steps.
Simpson said data collected during the pandemic may be “quite distinct” from data in future years.
“Survey questions have been adapted to take into account the lived realities of students during the pandemic, including the fact that students are primarily engaging in their education remotely and that the nature of their relationships and social interactions has changed dramatically,” she wrote.
The survey allows students who had on-campus experience in the 2019-20 academic year to answer questions based on that experience, according to Simpson, while also providing an opportunity for students who are new to Queen’s and whose experiences of safety and institutional culture have happened online or through limited in-person interactions affected by public health regulations.
“[C]ommunity stakeholders agreed that it was important to act on the pledge to introduce this institution-wide effort as soon as possible and to build on the findings,” Simpson wrote. “Also, although students’ perceptions of campus climate this academic year may be unusual, it is still important they be captured.”
AMS Vice-President (University Affairs) Alexia Henriques told The Journal it’s important students complete the survey because the University “relies heavily on statistical evidence.”
“We do not see this as the only way for students to express themselves, as students have expressed concerns, experiences, and perspectives, through countless initiatives this year,” Henriques wrote.
“We hope that students will participate to ensure that our asks from administration are taken seriously as the University relies on data.”
Henriques also said the data-driven survey results will allow the AMS to better advocate for students and their needs.
“We will work with the incoming AMS Executive and their Senior Management team to ensure they are aware of the survey and are prepared to receive the results at the start of their term and work with the administration on tangible solutions and policy changes.”
diversity, domestic violence, food insecurity, sexual violence, student experience survey
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