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Supporting the Needs of Black Students

Student-Organized Demonstrations in 2015

In response to student-organized demonstrations in 2015, a report detailing the experiences of Black students at the University of Guelph was written and released. The data collected informed recommendations used in the development of key supports, policies and programs. Focus groups were held with Black students spanning domestic through international, undergraduate and graduate; a broad range of academic disciplines; and living arrangements that included on- and off-campus, and commuters. 

Students were seen in the University Centre holding a sign in solidarity with Missouri and Yale with the hashtag #BlackOnCampus.

Events that led to the Guelph Student-Organized Demonstrations in 2015 

In 2014 and 2015, a string of fatal police shootings of unarmed Black civilians, both in the United States (including that of Mya Hall, Sandra Bland, and Walter Scott) and Canada (including that of Jermaine Carby and Andrew Loku) incited action across both countries (i.e. local community organizations, chapters of Black Lives Matter, etc.). Black students and faculty at universities and colleges across southern and eastern Ontario began working with students at institutions across the United States on efforts to resist the racism that students can experience on campuses.

Within a day’s notice a call to stand with Missouri, Yale, and its other allies was put out and a hashtag #BlackOnCampus was used through various social media platforms to talk about their experiences. During the #BlackOnCampus rally, a list of demands was presented to senior administration by Black students and their allies. In response, the Provost indicated that a review of the needs of Black students would be undertaken, including a survey of students, a gap analysis, and a review of research and promising practices.

Throughout the next few months, focus groups were held with Black students spanning domestic through international, undergraduate and graduate; a broad range of academic disciplines; and living arrangements that included on and off campus, and commuters. The report of findings Supporting The Needs of Black Students At The University of Guelph was released in May 2016.

What's Happened Since? 

Following the release of the report of findings, changes in the supports for Black and racialized students have been made:

  • The Cultural Diversity Advisor role was created to guide Black and racialized students through their post-secondary career acting as an advisor for racially and ethnically diverse students (with an emphasis on Black students).

  • The development of programming and online resources such as discussion groups, workshops, co-curricular learning experiences, campaigns and resource materials to enhance and expand the understanding of racial and ethnic diversity on campus through a social justice lens.

  • The creation of several committees tasked with exploring the efficacy of addressing hate activity and the development of campus-wide anti-oppression training for staff, faculty and students.