Our site visit to Queen’s University was filled with positive interactions and conversations with students, faculty, staff and administrators. We learned about the activities, collaborations, and programs that support students, both academically and personally. We truly enjoyed our time at Queen’s, the campus, the people, and our overall experience.
For those of us who were visiting Queen’s for the first time, we were charmed by the beautiful stone buildings and campus layout that gives Queen’s its unique personality. While we visited different people and offices around the campus, we spent most of our day conducting focus group interviews in the Alumni Lounge in the Athletics and Recreation Centre. This was a lively and active space where students engage in physical activities, play intramural sports or just gather to watch their favorite teams. A very unique space we found on campus was the Grocery Checkout Fresh Market, a grocery store located in Queen’s Centre where students can shop for virtually anything – from fresh produce to vegetarian/vegan specialty items. What makes this grocery store so special is not only the easy access it provides students to purchase fresh and healthy food, but also the fact that it was a student led initiative. We heard about many initiatives led by students and the very important role students play in many collaborations on campus – from participating in K-12 outreach activities to sitting in on councils with faculty and administrators.
As one faculty member noted, students’ health and wellness directly impacts their ability to do well in the classroom. We heard in detail about the mental health initiatives supported by Queen’s administration in collaboration with faculty, staff, and students. Queen’s University offers a series of mental health programs to educate and train the campus community on supporting students and providing a web of resources to promote mental health. We heard from students about their involvement with Queen’s Wears Green campaign, which is a partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association to raise money and awareness about the importance of mental health. During our interviews, students talked about the importance of supporting this cause, not only to support their peers, but also to create an open space on campus where these issues can be raised. More recently, members of Queen’s University participated in a national study on mental health and the effects on Canadian youth. Students, faculty, and staff were proud of all of the initiatives bringing awareness to mental health at Queen’s. It appears Queen’s has made an intentional effort to be a university leader on mental health awareness, providing resources and training for the campus community and becoming involved with national organizations to support mental health initiatives.
We had the amazing opportunity to hear from students, both undergraduate and graduate, and their perceptions about how Queen’s supports student success, their involvement with campus activities, and their research activities. It was evident that the Alma Mater Society and the Society of Graduate & Professional Students are vocal advocates for students and are involved in campus-wide initiatives and programming with faculty and administrators. We heard countless accounts from students supporting each other, getting support from faculty and staff, and giving back to their campus community.
We were also fortunate to have the opportunity to speak to various student affairs professionals from various programs and departments who shared their experiences helping students. At Queen’s, the Student Affairs Division goes by the motto “With Student Affairs the Only Subject is You!” and this statement seemed to capture the work of student affairs staff. When we asked our participants to define “student success,” we heard across the board that it was helping individual students with their individual needs. They expressed that the definition of success meant different things to different individuals and it looked different from student to student. It was a pleasure speaking to student affairs staff and getting their perceptions about the organizational structure, their work with students, and their input on how Queen’s can improve in supporting students.
We cannot wait to go back to Queen’s and reconnect with participants and meet new students, faculty, and staff. We would like to thank all of our participants for taking time out of a very busy time in the semester and for being so welcoming to the research team.