We often talk about the university experience and how important it is to make it as enjoyable, productive, and fun as possible.
Providing a rich academic offer, dynamic and diverse extracurriculars, and having a great careers service department are some things that can enable students to make the most of their university life.
In the last few years, University campuses have become more diverse. However, increasing the number of unrepresented groups is not enough. Universities and their leaders must break down barriers to guarantee that everyone feels included.
We have seen more universities focusing on improving "Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion" in their campuses, sometimes making them the main pillars of their strategies.
The goal is to make ALL students feel at home when they are going to university.
But how do universities ensure that their campus is diverse, inclusive, and equal for all?
A safe campus is of the essence when maintaining these three aspects at any university. To provide a safe environment for students, universities need proper security, experienced wardens, and necessary safety protocols and equipment.
Cultural associations also play a major role in this consideration. Physical safety is not enough; students need to have spaces where they can express themselves openly without any fear of rebuke and retaliation. Setting up different cultural societies and student clubs of diverse interests can make it easier to feel included while participating in fun activities.
It is often hard to make your voice heard as a student. That is why having representative bodies, such as a student council or student union, is key to ensuring that the student's needs and concerns are taken into consideration.
Providing counseling is also something many universities are doing nowadays to ensure that all students have access to help when it's needed. Ending the stigma around therapy and the importance of mental health also helps build a more inclusive and diverse campus.
Strict rules about bullying go a long way in ensuring the safety of students. These rules and their proper implementation are a necessary step towards equality and to make sure that no student feels it acceptable to treat others without proper respect or feel afraid of complaining against such behavior.
Universities must ensure that, regardless of their background, every student has the same opportunities. Some examples can be: promoting participation in sports teams for all genders, ensuring low-income individuals have access to all the resources their need to achieve their goals or offering flexibility to those students who are caretakers in their families.
If we want to make sure to improve these aspects in the upcoming years, we also need to educate future generations on the matter. Implementing these topics in a transversal manner in the curriculum can go a long way.
In addition to these considerations, inclusive learning methods are also implemented by many universities to ensure that nobody feels excluded from learning opportunities. There are many universities with a framework for disabled people with campuses designed according to their needs. These are also things that many students take into account when choosing a university.
It only makes sense that, when students feel included, safe, and at home at their university, they will perform better academically and also be more participative in the different initiatives that the campus has to offer.
So, if we want to help students become their best selves and enjoy their student experience to the fullest, we must ensure equality, diversity, and inclusion within the university environment.