By Yusur Al-Salman, Redefining Traditional Project Lead
Between the rising costs of childcare and the COVID-19 pandemic, entering parenthood as students seems more challenging than ever. And yet, there is growing effort to accommodate the practical needs of student-parents and to address them meaningfully, and one example is in making university libraries family-friendly.
Written By Sofia Callaghan, Izzy Friesen, Serena Singh – Design Research Assistants for the Trans and Nonbinary Student Experiences Project
Trans Awareness Week (November 13th-19th), and Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20th) is approaching, and so we’d like to share some research that the Innovation Hub is working on with the Sexual and Gender Diversity Office (SGDO).
Students are often queried by the University for their name and gender, which they can change using the change of name and gender request form; we wanted to learn more about the experiences of trans, nonbinary and/or otherwise gender nonconforming students navigating this form and other gender queries made by the University.
By Johanna Pokorny – Senior Research Assistant, Amal Yusuf – Data Analysis Researcher, Rosemarie Shephard – Data Analysis Researcher and Betelehem Gulilat – Lead Editor & Writer
In Canada alone, 2 out of 5 post-secondary students experience some form of food insecurity2. Food insecurity is described as inadequate and insecure access to food as a result of financial constraints3. Its prevalence within the student population is overlooked by many considering the significant implications it has on students’ livelihood, learning and overall well-being. It’s complex and interconnected with our core needs and different for each and every individual in our communities.
By Betelehem Gulilat, Lead Writer & Editor and Philippa Gosine, Senior Research Assistant
Preserving a rich learning environment accessible for all students has been an ongoing commitment for many institutions. As faculties and administrators navigate the complexity of delivering courses online, it’s important for us to turn to our student community to understand the needs of students during this time. Our work at the Innovation Hub is centered around students and their unique stories with the goal of designing a campus experience inclusive for all. We recognize the importance of prioritizing accessibility and hope to inspire our community members to develop equitable strategies for accomodating students in their online learning.
Written by Terri-Lynn Langdon, Lead Writer and Editor
I am a wheelchair- using mother and a PhD student at OISE in Social Justice Education. When the lockdown in Toronto began we lost access to daycare and we also lost more than one support person (Nurturing Assistants) who felt that their own lives were too disrupted by the pandemic to continue to provide ongoing support to us. Without this direct support neither myself nor my child can shower safely, and I have no means of taking my twenty-one month old outside on my own. On top of which our building has been plagued with significant apartment maintenance issues all summer which has meant I have had to solve big family pandemic issues for 4 months and counting….
In many fields, outliers are seen as a nuisance. We run tests to justify ignoring them; we explain them away; we resent their intrusion on our neat results. Design thinking, however, asks us to do the opposite—to forgo the blinkers that constrain us to staring at the centre of the bell curve, and to take a good hard look at the outliers.
“What simple things could U of T do to be more family-friendly?” We asked this question at our participatory action event last month, in which we sought the voices of student parents and their solutions to the challenges they face at U of T.
Student parents are a growing group of students at the University of Toronto, and they face unique challenges that are invisible to those who do not share their experiences. These challenges create emotional and mental pressures which are exasperated by the limited support available for their practical needs.
To capture these challenges and the overall experiences of student parents at the university, the Innovation Hub partnered with the Family Care Office last year. Through that partnership, we showed that student parents are often unable to find a sense of belonging during their time at U of T. A sense of belonging is important for forming meaningful interpersonal connections, better coping with school and life challenges, and deriving comfort from the knowledge that one is not alone.