“It Feels Like A Battle to Tell Myself That I Am Worthy of Being Here”: Understanding the Racially Marginalized Student Experience in Canadian Higher Education

  • Author / Creator
    Connauton, Joshuha Johan
  • Literature and theory have shown that the racially marginalized student experience in higher education is unique. This experience has been characterized by societal inequities that contribute to the marginalization of racialized people. This thesis set out to understand the research questions: 1) What is the racially marginalized student experience in higher education, and 2) how can the university begin to decolonize itself to better support student success for racially marginalized students? These questions were developed as a response to what I have seen in higher education as a student affairs professional and my desire to create equitable higher education for all. To establish the theoretical foundation of this thesis, a clear foundation of colonial and decolonial theory highlighting Frantz Fanon, Annibal Quijano, Palo Freire, and James Baldwin grounded this study to understand the effect of colonialism on the marginalized consciousness and the impact of colonialism on racialized self-efficacy. Furthermore, the literature review indicated that from across Canada and the United States, racialized students continue to face racism and colonialism in various ways and that this colonialism works to contribute to lower student success amongst racialized students in higher education. This thesis' conceptual framework is constructed around the following assumptions:1. That racialized students in higher education experience racism,2. That there are gaps across higher education that act as barriers for racialized students toaccess equitable education, and3. Decolonization is a complex but essential avenue to creating equitable higher education.iiCarrying this conceptual framework into my data collection, collection involved interviewing five current undergraduate students from the University of Alberta and reviewing policy documents across the institution, including the EDI Strategic Policy. This data collection yielded results similar to that of what was found in the literature review; the racially marginalized student experience in higher education is incredibly individualistic, encompassed by racist incidents, and characterized by a struggle to fit in and find their community campus. Furthermore, institutions are currently beginning the process of addressing colonialism on campus but are at the early stages and are a long way away from truly addressing the issues hurting racially marginalized student (holistic) success in university. Further, institutions, to move forward and address these issues, should be investing in representation across campus and consultation with students to understand their experiences to know how to move forward in supporting these students and creating a better, more equitable university experience.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2020
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Education
  • DOI
  • License
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