Canadian universities have begun addressing Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in higher education through their strategic plans and in policy creation. While these efforts are vital to increasing access and reducing discrimination and inequity facing marginalized students, critiques highlight the shortcomings of these efforts as being overly simplistic, too generic, or neglecting opportunities to develop meaningful and long-lasting practical change that goes beyond surface-level awareness raising or language changes. Further, there is inattention given to spatial dimensions of marginalization in current literature and discussions around EDI. A part of this spatial consideration is the material effects of social marginalization. Space contributes to marginalization through delineating inclusive and exclusive spaces, cementing the realities of opportunity and oppression. For example, tolerability of difference is relegated to certain spaces, relics of colonialism permeate campuses, bathrooms ignore trans realities, and capitalistic spaces privilege wealthy students. EDI policies do little to address these inequities, which signals a large oversight in EDI policies of the spatial dimension of marginalization. Mapping experiences on campus spaces can ensure safer spaces for marginalized students and better inform EDI policy interventions.
The overall purpose of this 2-year research project is to critically understand how university campus maps shape the experiences of multiply-marginalized students. The project objectives are to: (1) To analyze how university EDI policies address spatial marginalization and intersectionality on campuses; (2) To identify how physical space, and the extent to which campus geography both reflects and contributes to the experience of oppression among students.
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