With a total disbursement
of more than $22 million,
the average disbursement
to each recipient amounted
to more than $3,500.

In 2013-14
almost
40 per cent
of the undergraduate student population received some financial aid from Queen’s.

Based on data from 2001-02, expenditures on student financial assistance at Queen's have increased
40 per cent after inflation.

In 2013-14, 5,600 undergraduate students accessed government loans and grants, representing approximately 34 per cent of the undergraduate student population.

The maximum amount a single student may receive from OSAP is $350 a week, or $11,900 for a
34-week school year.

Based on data from 2001-02, government grants and contracts have increased
8 per cent after inflation.

By Laura Russell

Features Editor

When Megan Quin came to campus in 2011, she noticed a distinct stereotype.

 

Queen’s is often typecast as a wealthy and predominantly Caucasian university, according to some students and professors.

 

Quin said it’s hard to homogenize an entire institution, but by walking through campus, she added that certain shared products and behaviour can make it evident.

 

“There are times when the university is living up to its standards,” Quin said, “especially when you see in the winter time that there’s a lot of the same winter jackets, or you’re in the library and there’s a sea of MacBooks and iPhones. [It’s] startling that it’s all the same.”

 

In the 2013 Applicant Equity Census, it was noted that 28.5 per cent of Queen’s undergraduate
first-year registrants were visible minorities, representing 600 students who weren’t Caucasian. According to the 2011 National Survey of Student Engagement, meanwhile, 80 per cent of that year’s first-year class was Caucasian.

 

In 2013, 44.9 per cent of new undergraduate students marked their family’s gross income as $125,000 or higher, compared to 24.8 per cent between $75,000 and $124,999 and 21.4 per cent between $0 and $74,999. Nine per cent didn’t respond.

 

Of 1,149 graduating students that returned Queen’s 2013 Exit Poll survey, 37 per cent said they would graduate with no debt – down eight per cent from 2012.

The Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) has helped Quin pay tuition, as has her part-time job as an in-class tutor at an elementary school.

 

OSAP compares the cost of student’s post-secondary education with their available income to determine the funding they’re eligible to receive. The maximum amount a single student may receive is $350 a week, or $11,900 for a 34-week school year.

 

In 2013-14, 5,600 undergraduate Queen’s students accessed government loans and grants like OSAP – or 34 per cent of the undergraduate student population.

 

But Quin said she still struggles financially. There have been times, she said, when she’s opted not to buy groceries in order to go out with friends on the weekend.

 

“I’m okay with not having the same things as other people – that doesn’t bother me,” she said. “I don’t know if I would say uncomfortable so much as just envious of their financial security.”

 

Cara Brandon also relies on OSAP to pay for her tuition and living expenses.

 

“There’s no way I would have been able to even begin paying for tuition without the government loans,” said Brandon, ArtSci ’14 and MSc ’17, adding that her biggest struggle will come after she’s completed her studies.

 

“It’ll hit me more when I’m thousands of dollars in debt.”

 

Certain products – like Lululemon attire, Canada Goose jackets and Apple products – often support the stereotype that Queen’s students are wealthy, Brandon said.

 

“Looking around in a classroom and seeing what people are wearing and that there are a lot of Apple products everywhere,” she said. “Seeing a lot of white faces as well, it does reinforce the stereotype.”

 

Brandon said she was surprised to learn that some of her closest friends come from a higher economic background, adding that she’s experienced awkward moments when she plans to do things with people who don’t face any financial obstacles.

 

“It’s a surreal feeling when you know that someone’s relationship with money is so different from your own,” she said. “It’s like a different world.”

 

In 2013-14, more than 6,300 undergraduate students received some financial aid from Queen’s, making up 40 per cent of the undergraduate student population. With a total disbursement of more than $22 million, the average amount each student received was roughly $3,500.

 

Natasha Bowman, ArtSci ’15, received the Queen Elizabeth Aiming for the Top scholarship when she entered Queen’s. She also obtained a mark-based entrance scholarship and pays for her tuition through her savings and OSAP.

 

“I had a lot of money saved up from high school, so the first couple years were kind of smoother,” Bowman said. “It’s becoming more of a struggle now that I’m in my fourth year and the money’s running out.”

 

Bowman said she isn’t receiving a lot of money from OSAP, but added that she’s always maintained one or two jobs at a time to help support herself. She currently holds two jobs, working 20 to 22 hours per week at Stauffer Library and Kingston General Hospital.

 

She’s comfortable with her financial situation around her friends, Bowman said, but this wasn’t always the case – especially in first year.

 

“My [residence] floor used to always get takeout on Sundays, but I didn’t really feel like it was financially responsible for me to get takeout when I had a meal plan,” she said, “so I couldn’t really participate in that.”

 

Bowman said the general perception of Queen’s students – and, by extension, herself – is that they’re wealthy.

 

“[It] almost feels like a bit of a devaluation of the work that I put in, to keep my scholarships and to be able to pay for my tuition, to be here,” she said.

 

“Maybe people started [spreading the stereotype], and then maybe it’s a bit of a self-confirmation bias. You say it, then you see it, and that gets you thinking it,” she added. “But from my experience, I just haven’t really experienced it.”

 

Stereotypically
Queen's

Before she came to Queen’s 13 years ago, psychology Professor Li-Jun Ji had heard of the University’s reputation as a predominantly wealthy and Caucasian school.

 

“I think it does reflect some truth,” Ji said, “but in the meantime, I do see students who have to work 20-30 hours a week in order to make enough money to support themselves.”

 

Ji has researched socioeconomic differences between the United States and East Asia and how they can lead to differences in reasoning decisions. She said she’s mainly interested in how cultural backgrounds affect how people think, make decisions and perceive events.

 

Ji said any viewpoint on Queen’s reputation depends on the person’s reference point.

 

“I think it’s all relative,” she said. “When I teach small classes, people coming from Toronto think that Queen’s is very white, but also students who come from a very white community and they come to Queen’s think that it’s very diverse.”

 

Paighton Newmarch, ArtSci ’15, said she has occasionally felt uncomfortable at Queen’s because of her ethnicity.

 

“My father is white and my mother is black,” Newmarch said. “A lot of people who aren’t familiar with racial minorities would probably look at me right away and just say I’m black.”

 

Newmarch said she has faced overtly uncomfortable situations on campus, such as calls of “Oh, mulatto!” and “Oh, black booty!” directed at her by other students.

 

These incidents occur every few months, she added.

 

”It’s usually at night when people are drunk and don’t have many inhibitions,” she said. “I usually don’t have time to react initially, but a bit afterwards I feel uncomfortable for a little while.”

 

Newmarch said these situations bothered her a lot more when she first came to Queen’s, making her feel isolated.

 

She has also felt uncomfortable at times because of her financial situation, she added. Newmarch pays for tuition herself, and although she has applied for OSAP, she was declined because her mother is in a high-income bracket.

 

Instead, she has supplemented the rest of the costs herself, taking out a bank loan and holding summer jobs to pay tuition.

 

Newmarch said she had no idea Queen’s had a reputation of being wealthy and mostly Caucasian until she came here.

 

“Like all stereotypes, I guess there’s a little bit of truth to it,” she said. “Yes, there are mostly white people here, but even they are diverse in their ‘whiteness’. There are people from a bunch of different backgrounds.”

 

About 10 years ago, geography Professor Audrey Kobayashi conducted a survey research project of students of colour at Queen’s.

 

“I found that the overwhelming majority said that they had had racist experience[s], and these varied tremendously,” Kobayashi said.

 

Kobayashi declined to share her findings with the Journal, noting that she hopes to eventually publish the findings, but said some students experienced overt incidents like taunting on the street or name-calling.

 

“I discovered that ethnic minority students are often not included in the social networks that start in first-year in the same way that white students are,” she said. “What tends to happen is that the minority students tend to seek one another out.”

 

Kobayashi contributed to the Henry Report, which reviewed surveys conducted in 2003 and 2004 about the experiences of visible minority and Aboriginal faculty members at Queen’s.

 

Frances Henry, a professor emeriti at York University, wrote the report after it was requested by then-Vice Principal of Academics Suzanne Fortier in 2001. The report was presented to Senate in March 2006.

 

Of 270 faculty members that responded to the survey, nearly two dozen said they were treated differently at Queen’s because of their ethno-racial status. It was reflected in the surveys that Caucasian students often challenged the expertise, authority and competence of non-Caucasian professors.

 

One anonymous faculty member stated in the report that “there is the perception that you go to Queen's it will be all Canadian or all White; that's because the students here are used to all White ideas, they were used to having their values reflected ... they did not want to see anybody that had different values.”

 

Kobayashi said Queen’s reputation of being wealthy and Caucasian doesn’t fully reflect reality.

 

“Queen’s has a history of being a white campus. It’s much more diverse than the past, but nonetheless, the whole Queen’s culture is very white,” she said. “This is not something that is consciously reproduced by individuals, but is the result of generations and decades of reproducing white ideals and white practices.”

 

Ethnic minority students, Kobayashi said, often seek out clubs and groups to feel less isolated.

 

“We have a lot of groupings and associations of students of colour who provide support for one another.”

 

From 1849-1852
 Robert Sutherland attended Queen’s and was the first student and graduate of colour in Canada.

In 1995-96
Queen’s elected its
first black AMS president

In 2013, a census noted that
28.5 per cent of Queen’s undergraduate first-year registrants were visible minorities, representing 600 students who weren’t Caucasian.

In the 2013
Applicant Equity Census,
2.5 per cent of first-year undergraduate registrants were aboriginal.

In the 2013
 Applicant Equity Census,
 28.5 per cent of first-year undergraduate registrants were visible minorities.

6.1 per cent of first-year undergraduate students come from an international location.

The top three countries of citizenship among international first-year undergraduates are China, United States and
South Korea
.

Who's Applying to Queen's? – Percent of First-Year Canadian Applications by Location

When students of non-Korean ethnicities see Queen’s Koreans in Canada (QKIC) club signs, they assume the club is only for Koreans, according to Hyun Nam.

 

But Nam, QKIC’s co-president, said the club advertises to students of every race – specifically, anyone interested in Korean culture, or any Korean students looking to find a space to socialize.

 

Nam, ArtSci ’15, said he joined QKIC when he came to Queen’s to make a group of friends and to connect with the Asian community.

 

“A lot of the students join the club to just have that connection with the community, while at the same time having a set of friends outside of that Asian community,” he said.

 

There are approximately 21 ethnic-based clubs sanctioned by the AMS, including the Spanish and Latin American Students Association, the Pakistani Students Association and the Chinese Students Association.

 

Nam said ethnic clubs are a good starting point for students looking to befriend people similar to them.

 

“I was worried when I first came here,” he said, “but when I joined QKIC and was able to start relationships and see other people of my same status, I was able to branch out. I felt a lot more comfortable at Queen’s.”

 

Taneil Karel, ArtSci ’15, said Queen’s population being primarily Caucasian doesn’t faze her.

 

Growing up in a predominantly white neighbourhood in rural Ottawa made Karel used to the idea, she said, noting that she’s usually the only black person in her classes.

 

“While it is visible that there is a lower percentage of visible minorities on campus, I don’t think that it defines the campus,” she said. “Our campus is a very inclusive place.”

 

Because of her background, Karel said, she hasn’t felt any isolation or sense of being uncomfortable on campus.

 

“While you can’t not notice the lack of visible minorities,” she said, “it’s not like I’m constantly looking down at my hand and saying ‘oh, the person next to me is so white’. It doesn’t matter because at the end of the day, you’re just a student in a classroom.”

 

Audrie Noh, ConEd ’16, said that most people, when told that she attends Queen’s, ask if she’s the only Asian there.

 

“A lot of my housemates came from small, predominantly Caucasian towns,” Noh said. “When I first met them at Queen’s they were like ‘Oh my gosh, you’re my first Asian friend’, so if you’re not exposed to it at a younger age, it’s more of a shock later on.”

 

Noh said Queen’s is more multicultural and diverse than some people think – but there are still aspects of the reputation that tend to emerge.

 

“I’ve been told ‘you’re Asian, but you’re actually pretty white – you’re very white washed’,” she said. “I’m pretty white washed, but I can see how people could be offended by it. It’s seen as a positive thing to be white washed.”

 

Noh said she grew up in a very multicultural city, so she was open to a lot more opportunity to communicate with a lot of different ethnic groups.

 

“People are comfortable with what they’re familiar with,” she said. “When you make friends and if you’re used to being only around Caucasians, you would veer towards them, but if you were used to a multicultural community, it wouldn’t be as big of a difference.”

 

Unlike Noh, some non-Caucasian students have faced racism at Queen’s and been offended.

 

Yema Quinn, education co-officer of the African and Caribbean Students Association (ACSA), said each of the group’s 80 or so members has experienced some form of micro-aggression.

 

”Micro-aggressions are those everyday indignities that the people [who] say them don’t think that they’re harmful, but they are harmful to the person,” said Quinn, ArtSci ‘16. “I hear those things all the time every day, and after while it, [it] does pile up.”

 

Quinn said it’s harmful when people tell her that she’s “pretty for a black girl” or when someone asks her if she can twerk – experiences she’s previously had at Queen’s.

 

“Some people’s are heavier than others and some are lighter,” she said, “but everyone has experienced some degree, either of micro-aggression or discrimination and systematic oppression.”

 

Quinn said groups like ACSA offer a safe space for students to feel comfortable and welcomed, adding that people should have a community they can turn to.

 

“These groups encourage friendship and community within,” she said.

 

“Being part of a marginalized group around campus can be kind of lonely if you don’t see yourself reflected in lecture or at University [Ave.] and Union [St.], and it’s good to have a place where you can go with people that understand you.

 

“When you’re in a place or surrounded by a group of people who more accurately represent who you are and your heritage,” she added, “it’s easier to exist in a place that is rich and white.”

Written by: Laura Russell

Production: Sam Koebrich

Multimedia: Arwin Chan, Emilie Rabeau

With files from: Carolyn Abel and Jenna Zucker

Editing: Nick Faris, Vincent Ben Matak

 

Queen's Journal, 2015

RETURN TO QJLONGFORM.COM

77.5 per cent of first-year undergraduate students come
from Ontario.

There are 1,679 for-credit international undergraduate and graduate students at Queen’s from more than 70 countries.

In 2013, a census noted that
28.5 per cent of Queen’s undergraduate first-year registrants were visible minorities, representing 600 students who weren’t Caucasian.

In the 2013
 Applicant Equity Census,
six per cent of first-year undergraduate registrants’ parents had no post-secondary education.

In 2013,
44.9 per cent of
new undergraduate students marked their family’s gross income as $125,000 or higher.

In the 2013
Applicant Equity Census,
 79.2 per cent of first-year undergraduate registrants’ hometown population is greater than 10,000.