What I Learned in Class Today Student Perspectives continues the work started by undergraduate students Amy Perreault and Karrmen Crey who in 2007 interviewed their peers in the First Nations Study Program to create the 20-minute Student Speaks film. Not only did their initiative provide a space for Indigenous students to voice their shared experiences of tokenization and racism in UBC classrooms but it also sparked a university-wide shift in attending to student experience illustrated by the project’s foundational role in inspiring the 2009 Aboriginal Strategic Plan.
By centering student experiences in courses that engage with Indigenous topics, the Student Perspectives materials critically align with UBC’s commitment to decolonization and reconciliation articulated in the 2020 Indigenous Strategic Plan. As departments, faculties, and units continue on the path to implement these calls to action, it is all the more important to ground this work in the powerful insights shared by students whose classroom and campus experiences are directly impacted by these institutional shifts towards Indigenous engagement.
The WILICT team conducted interviews with a total of twelve Indigenous and non-Indigenous students from 2018-2021, including virtual interviews during the Covid-19 pandemic. Undergraduate and graduate students coming from a diverse range of disciplines across the university recounted problematic encounters with peers and instructors during conversations about Indigenous histories, perspectives, and contemporary realities. They also shared advice to faculty about how to set up classroom spaces in ways that account for the positionalities, lived experiences, emotions, and power dynamics of students in the room.
Throughout the 2021-2022 academic year, the WILICT team will be releasing articles responding to key themes from the student interviews with the aim of sharing a Student Perspectives film, similar to the two-part Faculty Perspectives videos, in Spring 2022.