The University of Prince Edward Island often touts diversity as a selling feature to bring students to UPEI but underneath the façade how diverse is UPEI really?
The students on campus represent a variety of faculties, ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, genders, and sexual orientations; and while racism, discrimination and homophobia are present it is, for the most part, a safe place for students to be.
On paper UPEI seems pretty diverse but is it inclusive?
We spend millions of dollars on new buildings, amalgamating departments that were separated years ago as new “schools of”, and yet when it comes to International students, which albeit has funding from the university for the International Relations Office, we charge students more to attend, much like other universities, but then require them to take English language courses that they have to pay for but do not receive credit.
We claim GLBT diversity but then don’t have gender neutral washrooms, which would benefit all students, in accessible places (such as the library).
We claim to Honour the First Nation land that we’re on, but then don’t fund the Mawi’omi Centre.
We claim inclusion for students with disabilities, but don’t have enough space for them to write exams.
We claim Diversity, but don’t have direct funding for the Student Diversity Office.
We brush aside the fact there are students on campus who can’t afford to eat.
We celebrate “Mental Health Diversity”, by telling the good stories, the success stories, the “you can make a difference” stories, which are important, but we seem to brush aside the stories of people who are not doing okay, who are struggling, who don’t know if they’re going to make it.
Diversity isn’t just about having students from different countries, with different skin tones, different sexual orientations, different needs. Diversity is about having an inclusive space for students, a place that acknowledges and supports the actual diversity of students.
I’m just saying, if you’re going to claim and throw around the term “diversity”, you should be able to back up that word and in my opinion UPEI can’t.
[…] I would like to make an amendment to my first article, as I am comfortable admitting when I am in mistaken. One of the things I mentioned was Mental Health Week, of which I was critical. My experience last year with mental health week left me quite jaded as other than the keynote speaker at the beginning and the Wave event at the end, it seemed as though they were trying to force students to be happy during a time that is rather stressful. While stress relief activities are important it seemed as though the emphasis was on going on a scavenger hunt, picking songs that made you happy. choosing a sticker from a set, small selection that was supposed to somehow reveal the complexity of emotions that people feel, and playing in balls. It was less about mental health as a whole, or at least that is how I perceived it. […]