17 September 2017

To be inclusive or not to be inclusive

It is important that we cater for students in all kinds of circumstances! So of course we cater for the standard white English 18-year-old. And for slightly unusual white English 18-year-olds. And non-white English 18-year-olds. And non-English students. And Students of any age. And people who are slightly unusual students of any colour, any nationality and any age. And I hope that means we do not only take their money but really welcome them. All the same? Well, no, that wouldn't really be catering for everyone, as not everyone is the same. We do, for instance, give mature freshers another mature student as a peer guide, as we think 18-year-olds are different from people in their late twenties (as quite a lot of the mature students are) and even more so from people beyond that age. And that is only one aspect of not being standard white English 18-year-old, and I will restrict myself to it, so already in this blog post I am not being particularly inlcusive as I ignore all people with, say, dyslexia, a wheelchair, a native language other than English, or the desire to pray five times a day, even on fieldwork, just to name a few. But one thing at a time. We want to welcome all students and give them the attention they need.

One of the things mature students more often have than 18-year-olds is children. I think it is important that having a child should not stop you from going to university. We can't make it easy to juggle a child and a university degree, as it would be impossible to make juggling only a child easy in the first place, but we should try to work it out with student parents if some difficulty arises.

Then I was faced with a peer guide who wanted to bring her child to Welcome Week activities that take place after school. And as said, I think that it is important we cater for students with children. And I understand you have to keep your rather young child under supervision somehow, after the school releases it, but this posed a bit of a n issue. She is a peer guide, she is here to guide the freshers! How much attention do you have for them if you are looking after your child? We should make an effort to show new students the way in their new life, and not have an overwhelming other priority. So how to be inclusive to both the peer guide-annex-parent AND the freshers she looks after? I tried to strike some balance. There actually aren't an awful lot of post-3PM-afternoon activities. There are two; we have deemed that the first one (a games and quizz session) is so child-friendly she can just take the kid; depending on how that goes we will see about the second one (crabbing on the pier). By then the head peer guides will know the freshers and can gauge their view on including children in such activities. 'We' by the way is the head peer guides, the university-wide peer guide coordinator, the college H&S man and me. I suppose life is all about such dilemmas! I both hope this was a good decision AND that I get better at this...

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