Changing the Landscape: A critical race informed narrative inquiry of a Canadian university told by Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) students

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Francis, Deborah
students of colour , racism in higher education , education needs assessment , organizational policy
The experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) students in higher education are considerably different from the experiences of non-BIPOC students. We concluded that structural racism is deeply embedded in the programs, policies, and practices in higher education. Although universities create anti-racism initiatives, the findings of the study indicate that BIPOC students are neither consulted nor included in the development of resources that are aimed to benefit them. The purpose of the study is to build knowledge with Canadian BIPOC students to develop learning resources for the university leadership. A needs assessment was conducted with BIPOC students at a mid-sized Canadian university, Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. The study is a narrative inquiry qualitative study design with a critical race theory lens using community based participatory research principles. Based on 13 counter-narrative interviews, the research explores the results of the needs assessment in terms of policy change from the leadership perspective. The research team consisted of a steering committee of five BIPOC university students and the thesis advisory committee. We engaged with BIPOC students throughout the research process, from the refinement of the research questions to the creation and dissemination of two knowledge translation products. We established recommendations for the leadership that highlight the challenges BIPOC students experience, as well as strategies to address the challenges. Additionally, we co-created a learning resource for the university faculty and staff about what BIPOC students need to support their participation in student life. Working with BIPOC students is a powerful method to dismantle structural racism in programs, policies, and practices in higher education.
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