Are We Really Supporting Marginalized Students In Criminology?
It is time we acknowledge that we are not supporting marginalized students in criminology. Despite SFU criminology claiming to be diverse and inclusive, I have never seen anyone acknowledge that marginalized students are taking on more emotional labour and distress from studying criminology than our privileged counterparts. We may all be learning the same facts and knowledge, but this does not mean we are impacted equally. Marginalized students aren’t writing papers about topics. Instead, we are writing papers about our families, our communities, and ourselves. Many of our histories are intertwined with the injustices of the criminal justice system. So why are we not talking about the effect that criminology can have on marginalized students?
Marginalized students are already navigating students, teacher assistants, and professors who make problematic comments. We are constantly calculating the cost and benefit of confronting these comments. No matter whether we speak up or not, we still must deal with the shame and hurt caused. To add an additional layer, marginalized students are already dealing with the financial and physical inaccessibility of university. This is our daily life. Every day I ask myself whether I am making a difference or continuing to contribute to a harmful, colonial institution.
The truth is we are trying to move towards decolonizing and reconciling western scholarship, while forgetting the emotional safety and challenges faced by marginalized groups. While we invest so much time making changes in academia, we are focusing on the enlightenment of cis, white, heterosexual, abled populations — not protecting, humanizing, and strengthening our marginalized students. If the future of SFU and criminology needs equity, diversity, and inclusivity to thrive, then the voices of marginalized students are essential and should be amplified. To dismantle colonial norms, recognition and support is needed, but it is much deeper than that. We need to erase the stigma that students who are struggling with course material are weak or not good enough for criminology. We have to stop glorifying objectivity in criminology. Simply put, objectivity in criminology is for the privileged.