Exploring the Psychosocial Outcomes of Microaggressions again ...

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Abstract

Violence is increasingly becoming commonplace in South African universities despite the many initiatives to reduce it. While violence is usually blatant and direct, perpetrators have increasingly taken to more subtle verbal, behavioral, or environmental microaggressions that have devastating effects on their victims. The incidences of such microaggressions and the effects thereof have been known to be compounded in rural institutions with little-to-no regulation (and sometimes recognition) of microaggressions. As such, this study sought to explore the psychosocial consequences of microaggressions against queer communities at a rural university in South Africa. To achieve this, the study was formulated along a mixed-methods approach and followed a convergent design to enable the collection of data using semi-structured interviews with fifteen queer students and an online survey with 100 students. The findings revealed that queer students grappled with psychological distress, loss of sense of belonging, reduced academic productivity, and looming increased student dropouts. The study thus recommended that there is an urgent need to foster inclusivity in university campuses through strategies such as educating students and staff on what microaggressions are to begin the process of identifying and routing them out of the university’s fabric and updating policies to reflect clear-cut procedures of reporting and addressing microaggressions, among other things.