Supporting a diverse student population after the March 15 terror attacks
It has been a difficult year in Christchurch and Ekant Veer, Lisa Carter and Julie Pratt, from the University of Canterbury, will present at Talking Teaching on ‘Supporting a diverse student population after the March 15 terror attacks’.
The March 15 terror attacks were traumatic for many people in our city. Not only did it make many question the values held by the shooter but it also made many new residents question their sense of belonging in their new home. In particular, our diverse student population was deeply affected by the shooting and the rhetoric surrounding the terrorist’s motives.
We heard of students barricading their dorm room doors to protect themselves, being afraid to go out alone and the tragic circumstances of students losing loved ones whilst still desperately trying to continue their studies. From the outside it might seem that the outpouring of support and love, as after the earthquakes, meant that our community had rallied together in aroha and support for one another. This is true and we will never ignore the mahi that many did to keep our community strong. However, it also unearthed some tensions and difficulties that may not have been so obvious without spending time with the people affected.
During our upcoming kōrero at the Talking Teaching conference, we hope to share stories about the hard work that was done at the University of Canterbury to support our diverse student population to help them feel safe but also included back into a multicultural space that values all people. We share not just procedural solutions to enable students to stay engaged with the wider UC community but also other initiatives that were undertaken to help students feel that they belong.
UC took on a substantive role to support students at all levels but staff and students were also involved in meeting with victims from the shooting, their families and city council staff to help build the wider community back together. This is expected to be a raw retelling of our experiences, which may be triggering for some who attend.
However, it is felt that stories from the people in Christchurch at the time will help with both planning for a future disaster but also help with our own understanding of how to support a diverse student community who felt a lack of belonging or simply felt afraid. We encourage anyone teaching and engaging with multi-cultural groups to attend this hui to hear how we can build an inclusive community after a tragedy.
Some of the long line of flowers outside the Christchurch Botanic Gardens after March 15.
[Image by Ekant Veer]
The flowers by night, as people kept coming to pay their respects.
[Image by Ekant Veer]