Laurier’s Self-Identification form launches, aims to identify barriers to equity on campus

Photo by Darien Funk

On Feb. 23, Wilfrid Laurier University launched the Student Self-Identification (ID) Form

The Self-ID form is an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) data collection initiative, that will use and analyze evidence-based information to help identify barriers to equity on campus.

“The aim of it is to create a more comprehensive understanding of the student population,” Rebecca Smyth, Dimensions Program Coordinator and EDI Self-assessment team (SAT) chair, said. 

“The information generated from the form will assist Laurier in better understanding who is here and who isn’t here, and then how that impacts the systems, programs and services at the university.”

Smyth said a lot of Laurier’s current understanding of what the student population looks like is decentralized. 

“Certain faculties or certain offices know what students who engage with them kind of look like or how they identify … but the institution as a whole doesn’t have that comprehensive understanding.”

“The student self ID form aims to extend our current data collection efforts and really get a comprehensive and multifaceted understanding of the student body,” she added. 

All undergraduate and graduate students — both part-time and full-time — are eligible to fill out the Self-ID form. 

“Because the information that we’re collecting is multi-dimensional, we can better understand how these different identity characteristics impact student experience … particularly among those who are historically and currently underrepresented in post-secondary education.”

Established by the EDI Self-Assessment, the form is voluntary, confidential and allows for students to self-identify their own words and through a list of provided descriptions.  

“What happens with that information is it allows us to more accurately develop evidence-based programs, policies, services, action efforts to address equity, diversity, and inclusion in Laurier,” Smyth said.

Tangible examples of how the data will be used include: “iImproving student outreach, recruitment and retention … advancing student engagement on particular EDI initiatives and campus-wide programs … increasing availability of appropriate training and resources,” Smyth said. 

The form asks students about identifying factors such as their language, religion, gender, sex, sexual identity, disability, caregiving status, generation status in Canada and race.

Students are able to select one or more options per category and subcategory and can also specify if they do not identify with the options provided, if they prefer not to answer or if they would like to fill in their own answer.  

“There are ‘s essentially 12 questions in the survey. If you wanted to only answer three that you felt comfortable answering, then that would be completely fine,” Smyth said. 

“If the survey did not adequately capture their identity, they are able to tell us in their own words how they identify and they are able to also give feedback at the end of the form.” 

The forms options can be adjusted if need be, based on feedback received from those who fill it out.

While the EDI-SAT team would like a high response rate, Smyth said they won’t be basing decisions off data until they receive significant responses. 

The form will be a permanent fixture that students can fill out and update at any point during the length of their Laurier career. 

“I think [the form] is important for students who feel that they have been underrepresented in post-secondary or thus far in their student experience,” Smyth said. 

“The greater information that we have on what the student population looks like, the more accurately we can shape really effective EDI programs and policies.”

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