Queen’s equity work is far from over

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When individuals work toward a post-secondary education, it`s a form of privilege—whether it be financial or intellectual. Becoming an educated individual in society subjects you to certain benefits that are otherwise inaccessible.

But in an age of increasing equity efforts, Queen’s doesn`t do enough.

According to a 2018 equity summary report released by Queen’s, less than five per cent of first-years currently enrolled at the university identify as LGBTQ+, Indigenous or come from a low income bracket.  This demonstrates a clear divide in enrollment demographics.

With initiatives and programs working to change these statistics, Queen’s appears to be taking constructive steps to address its issues. But with the majority of its students coming from educated, white, higher-income families, its historic exclusivity speaks louder than its recruitment initiatives.

In the wake of racist parties, wellness services being under-funded, a former Queen’s student convicted of assault appearing as a guest speaker at the Smith School of Business, among others, the University's administration doesn't do enough to make all its students feel safe.  

Although there are student groups speaking out against marginalization, addressing Queen’s diversity issues shouldn’t be left up to students who might not always have it top of mind.

I was raised in a white, Catholic, middle-class environment. I’m one of the many Queen’s students that’s reaped the benefits of colonization and should be more aware of ongoing reconciliation efforts.

When I accepted my offer to attend Queen’s, I only acknowledged the positive things I’d heard about its community. I revered its tradition, school spirit, and tight-knit environment.  

It wasn’t until I took first-year courses such as drama, English literature and philosophy that I learned the tradition I enjoyed was built off the exclusion of marginalized people spanning decades.

If it weren’t for those courses, I’d remain one of the student whose privilege goes unchallenged before they graduate.

Instead of students taking arts electives to boost their GPAs, there should be a mandatory course detailing concepts like colonization—something that helped to found Queen’s and potentially made their education possible.

For an institution that’s prided itself on innovation and intelligence for more than a century, social awareness should be included in our collective pursuit of excellence.

Sophia is The Journal’s Opinions Editor. She’s a second-year English major.

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