There is a lot of information that I found valuable from the talk that was offered to us. Most importantly, I was not aware of many points that were brought up on the examples of inequity, such as differences in allocation of resources between public and private universities. Even though COVID is a global crisis, different communities receive unequal support. I also realized that my understanding of student needs across different communities has been limited to my own experiences of communicating with students on their needs. The variety of needs is much broader and it is important for us, who are in the roles of supporting students to be aware and knowledgeable of a large spectrum of needs our students have (as they may not always feel comfortable to openly share with us their difficulties). It was very educational for me and I plan to continue educating myself more on these very important issues.
The question on how can I, individually, “bring about more equity in higher education” is very difficult. It would be too easy to say that there is no much one person can do without any resources and that for now I don’t have any resources that I could help with. Many of us can say that about ourselves and then do nothing about it because we have an excuse. However, as members of an academic community, who have been receiving education and learning to problem solve, we have to identify real approaches – even without available resources.
What can I do individually? First and foremost, as I mentioned above, we need to educate ourselves on the current issues. There are some issues that I simply was not aware of. Awareness is a first and very important step, as awareness can result in further steps. Acquiring awareness and knowledge and knowledge on these issues does not require additional resources, so I cannot use lack of resources as an excuse not to take any action.
What else can I do individually that does not involve resources, which I don’t have access to? I have access to social media and I can highlight some of the issues to make others aware, to educate others on the issue of inequity in higher education. The more people are aware, the more results we can achieve. We have different (free) venues for educating each other and thinking of further ways to bring our efforts together.
What we can also take upon ourselves to take part in building more equity in higher education is learning about available resources that provide wider access to students. Many Universities, local and federal organizations also fight for equity and have succeeded in creating resources but many of us are not aware of such opportunities. So, we need to learn what resources are available for which needs and be able to provide this information to students that we are supporting.
Thus, everyone of us, can contribute to widening access and support to all students across all communities. “I don’t know” or “I can’t” is not an excuse. We are going through difficult times but we also live during the times when information is available and we need to learn how to use it for the betterment of equality in higher education in particular and other human rights and needs in general.