Page 1


The Revision Issue



IMPORTANT DATES Check the website for exact dates!

March 15, 2016

Research/Special Project Grants

May 2, 2016

June 11-14, 2017

Early Bird Deadline for CACUSS 2016 Registration

CACUSS 2017, Ottawa, ON

June 19-22, 2016

October 15, 2016

CACUSS 2016, Winnipeg, MB

Research/Special Project Grants

We also update the calendar on the website weekly with webinars and other important upcoming events!


Contents 4 5 7 8 9 10

President’s Message / Message du président Executive Director Update / Mise à jour de la directrice générale Update: Canadian Post-Secondary Education Collaborative on Reducing Alcohol-Related Harms (CPSEC-RAH) What to Expect at #CACUSS16 by Liz Hilliard Welcome to Friendly Manitoba! Get Ready for CACUSS 2016 by Cindee Laverge Developing a Competency Framework & Professional Development Plan for Canadian Student Affairs Professionals by the CACUSS Learning Framework and Professional Development Plan Project Team

Feature Section: The Revision Issue 13 14 16 17 18 21 22 23 26 27 29

Between Revisions: On Leaving Academia for Student Affairs by Vanessa Di Francesco Revising Our Schedules: Building Self Care and Reflection into Our Working Lives by Alicia Flatt Career Education Re- Imagined: Ryerson’s New Model of Holistic Career Development by Caroline Konrad State of the Union: Canadian Universities by Diana Bumstead Factors Affecting Student Persistence and Strategies for Improving Retention Rates in Online Classes by Antonia Sly Nichols Revising the Role of Digital Communications in Student Affairs: Not a ‘Nice to Have’ Anymore by Michael Ferguson and Hamza Khan A Balancing Act: The Evolving Role of the Disability Service Professional by Boris Vukovic, Somei Tam, and Bruce Hamm Revising Links between Student Support Services and Academe: A For-Credit Mental Health Course for Students with Mental Health Challenges by Margaret N. Lumley and Bruno Mancini A New Vision of Transpacific Indigenous Connections by Kakwiranó:ron Cook You Had Me at “Zombie”: Career Planning in the Walking Dead Era by Cliff Robinson

The Head, Heart and Hands of Higher Education: Through the Lens of Student Transition by Lindy Garneau, Ashley Gerrits (Wall), Lindsay Morris, & Melanie Sedge 30 Residence Wellness Alert by Jason Cobb 31 Impacting a Campus Community When Students Step Up by Patricia Kostouros, D. Gaye Warthe, & Catherine Carter-Snell 33 Reviving Risk Assessment: Transforming Traditional Risk Assessment to Nurture the Whole Student by Alyssa Graham & Scott MacDonald 34 Advising in Canada: Summary Survey Results by Tim Fricker, Heather Doyle, Shea Ellingham, & Darran Fernandez 37 UBC’s CampOUT!: Where Student Development Meets Summer Camp by C.J. Rowe and Anna White 38 Fostering a “Culture of Accessibility” at Carleton University by Dean Mellway

Communiqué Volume 17, Issue 1, Winter 2016/ Tome 17, Numéro 1, Hiver 2016 Editor / Rédacteur Mitchell Miller, Design / Conception graphique Managing Matters Inc., 647-345-1116 CACUSS Board/Conseil ASEUCC David Newman, President, Patricia Pardo, President-Elect, Marcelle Mullings, Finance Director, Karen Cornies, Director / Professional Development, Christine Adam, Director-at-Large / Advocacy, Anne Bartlett, Director-at-Large / Research and Recognition, Angie Clarke, Director-at-Large / Policy, Jack Dobbs, Director-at-Large / Research and Recognition, Dale Mullings, Director-at-Large / Communities of Practice. Communiqué is published by the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS)/L’association des services aux étudiants des universities et colleges du Canada (ASEUCC). All material copyright CACUSS/ASEUCC unless otherwise noted. Material may not be reproduced without the express written permission of CACUSS/ASEUCC. The opinions expressed in Communiqué do not reflect those of the magazine or of CACUSS. Le Communiqué est publié par la Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS)/l’Association des services aux étudiants des universités et collèges du Canada (ASEUCC). Copyright pour le contenu : CACUSS/ASEUCC, à moins d’indication contraire. Aucune reproduction du contenu de cette publication sans l’autorisation écrite expresse de CACUSS/ASEUCC. Les opinions exprimées dans Communiqué ne reflètent pas ceux du magazine ou de l’ASEUCC. Jennifer Hamilton, Executive Director, Advertising / La publicité CACUSS Secretariat, Submissions / Soumissions News, articles, updates, opinion pieces, letters to the editor, artwork and photographs relating to college and university student services in Canada are all very welcome. Send submissions to: Nous acceptons les nouvelles, articles, mises au point, énoncés d’opinion, lettres aux rédacteurs, illustrations et photographies se rapportant aux services aux étudiants des collèges et des universités. Faire parvenir vos soumissions à : Mitchell Miller, CACUSS Secretariat/Secretariat ASEUCC 720 Spadina Avenue, Suite 202, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2T9 • 647-345-1116 Email: Website:


President’s Message

Message du président

ur work is shaped and influenced by an ever-changing context. In student affairs and services, we need to shift and adjust based on our student populations, priorities identified by our institutions and beyond, resources, and technology – to name a few examples. We’re not alone though; this is the global context that we all live in. But this is also not new. Yet we talk about change as if it were something that was thrust upon us, something that is unique to our current context. However, all you need to do is look at the past – and the past before that – to know that change has been and always will be something we need to deal with. So, why is this important?

otre travail est façonné et influencé par un contexte en constante évolution. Dans le domaine des affaires étudiantes et des services aux étudiants, nous devons apporter des changements et nous ajuster en fonction de nos populations d’étudiants, des priorités mises en évidence pour nos établissements et par des administrations de niveau supérieur, des ressources et de la technologie, pour ne nommer que ces éléments. Toutefois, nous ne sommes pas seuls : nous faisons tous partie du contexte mondial. Mais cela non plus n’est pas nouveau. Cependant, nous parlons du changement comme s’il s’agissait de quelque chose qui nous a été imposé, quelque chose qui est unique à notre contexte actuel. Pourtant, il nous suffit de regarder dans le passé – et dans le passé antérieur à ce passé – pour savoir que le changement a été et sera toujours un aspect avec lequel nous devons composer. Alors, pourquoi est-ce important?


Given that change is inevitable, we need to consider how to respond and adapt – and to set ourselves up to be nimble, flexible, and ever ready for the change we will continue to experience. To be professionals, as well as an organization that espouses these qualities, we all need to be prepared to engage in a continuous process of doing, learning, reflecting, and revising to achieve success. We also need to model what we want students to learn. One way I look at it is to consider experiential learning theories, such as Kolb’s model of experiential learning – a framework widely used to shape the learning and development of our students – and consider how it can be applied to our work. Kolb’s model indicates that, through a cyclical process, learners go through phases of concrete experiences, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. This model can be (and in many cases, already is) applied to our work with students. Let me briefly describe what I mean. Concrete experiences can be seen as our day-to-day work. It is what we do. Some of it is routine (which I’m sure for most of us is anything but routine!), while other aspects are new and varied depending on whom we’re working with and what else is going on in our environments. Reflective observation is our review process. It helps us understand what continues to be successful, identify potential trends, and consider what is no longer working. Abstract conceptualization is really our planning process. What do we do with the information we’ve gleaned from our review? David Newman What does it mean to our work? In this phase, we need to consider what we might do differently, giving space for consideration of all possibilities, including understanding the potential risks. Active experimentation can be seen as the place where we try new things, pilot new projects, and launch innovation. Not everything will succeed, and we need to be comfortable with that. However, as long as we learn from the experience, it can still be worth the effort. And the cycle repeats. Institutions of learning need to be learning organizations. In order for us to build on what we know and change the way we do things, we need to be willing to share with one another. As I write this, the deadline for proposals for the annual CACUSS conference just passed, and I know that we received a high number of quality session proposals. The annual conference is a very important time where colleagues from across the country – and throughout the world – come together to share and discuss topics, issues, and innovations. However, this type of learning and sharing should not be limited to one event. Both at our home institutions and within CACUSS, we need to model learning as core to everything we do. And if we get it right, we’ll be ready for whatever change comes our way. David can be reached at 4 / COMMUNIQUÉ / TOME 17 / NUMÉRO 1 / HIVER 2016


Étant donné que le changement est inévitable, nous devons envisager la façon d’y réagir et de nous adapter – et de nous préparer à être prompts, souples et toujours prêts à accueillir le changement qui continuera de nous toucher. Pour être professionnels, tout comme une entreprise qui démontre ces qualités, nous devons tous être préparés à participer à un processus permanent d’action, d’apprentissage, de réflexion et de révision menant au succès. En outre, nous devons représenter ce que nous souhaitons que les étudiants apprennent. Selon moi, une façon d’envisager cela consiste à examiner les théories d’apprentissage expérientiel, comme le modèle d’apprentissage par l’expérience de Kolb – un cadre très utilisé pour façonner l’apprentissage et l’épanouissement de nos étudiants – et à envisager la façon d’appliquer un tel modèle à notre travail. Le modèle de Kolb indique que dans un processus cyclique, les apprenants passent par des phases d’expériences concrètes, d’observation réfléchie, de conceptualisation abstraite et d’expérimentation active. Ce modèle peut être (et est déjà, dans bien des cas) appliqué à notre travail auprès des étudiants. Laissez­moi décrire brièvement ce que je veux dire. Les expériences concrètes sont présentes dans notre travail quotidien. C’est ce que nous faisons. Certaines activités sont régulières (pour la majorité d’entre nous, ce n’est que la routine!), tandis que d’autres aspects sont nouveaux et variés, selon la personne avec qui nous travaillons et les autres événements qui se déroulent dans notre environnement. L’observation réfléchie est notre processus d’examen. Elle nous aide à comprendre ce qui continue de bien fonctionner, à établir les tendances possibles et à examiner ce qui ne fonctionne plus. La conceptualisation abstraite est à coup sûr notre processus de planification. Que faisons-nous de l’information tirée de notre examen? Qu’est-ce que cette information signifie pour notre travail? Au cours de cette phase, nous devons examiner ce que nous pouvons faire différemment en envisageant suffisamment toutes les possibilités, ce qui comprend la connaissance des risques potentiels. L’expérimentation active peut être considérée comme la phase dans laquelle nous essayons de nouvelles choses, pilotons de nouveaux projets et lançons des initiatives novatrices. Tout ne fonctionnera pas, et nous devons nous sentir à l’aise

vis-à-vis de cette possibilité. Toutefois, aussi longtemps que l’expérience nous permet d’apprendre, les essais peuvent encore valoir l’effort fourni. Et le cycle se répète. Les établissements d’enseignement doivent être des organisations apprenantes. Pour tabler sur ce que nous savons et changer notre façon de faire, nous devons être disposés à partager avec les autres. Au moment où je rédige ces lignes, la date limite de présentation des propositions pour le congrès annuel de l’ASEUCC est dépassée et je sais que nous avons reçu un nombre considérable de propositions de séance de

Executive Director Update


s professional development budgets get tighter and tighter, many of us are looking for creative ways to engage in learning opportunities that will enhance our work and professional competencies. .

As you may know, for a long time CACUSS has been focused on how we can serve our members’ professional development needs. We also know that we can do more, do better, and offer more opportunities for our members. After 2015’s Member Needs Assessment, CACUSS moved forward with the recommendations by hiring a team to develop a learning framework and professional development plan for our organization. You can read more about that project’s progress on page 10. Our hope is that once the plan is finalized, we will then hire a staff member to develop and implement it. It is going to be an exciting few months! In the meantime, thinking about supporting member learning and development has been at the forefront of my mind. (By way of disclosure, it’s also because this is my research interest as I currently pursue my doctoral degree at OISE, U of T.) From my own experience, I know that learning happens in various ways and not just by participating in formal workshops, conferences, and webinars. Of course we want you to see CACUSS as a critical part of your annual professional development, but we recognize that we are all creative in how we build our own learning.

qualité. Le congrès annuel est un événement très important, au cours duquel des collègues provenant de toutes les régions du pays – et du monde – se réunissent pour échanger et pour discuter de sujets, de préoccupations et d’innovations. Cependant, ce type d’apprentissage et de partage ne doit pas se limiter à un événement. Tant dans nos établissements d’attache qu’au sein de l’ASEUCC, nous devons présenter l’apprentissage comme étant l’élément essentiel de toutes nos activités. Et si nous réussissons à bien le faire, nous serons prêts à accueillir tout changement qui survient dans notre vie.

have reached out to a CACUSS colleague for counsel and also several times where younger professionals have sought out my advice. It is an enriching experience for both involved. Get involved with a professional association We encourage our students to be involved because we know that it builds skills and helps connect them to the campus community. But what of ourselves? Taking on a leadership role within an association can help you hone skills and build your knowledge networks. For example, if you are lacking experience in developing policy, getting involved with an association can give you such an opportunity. In my own career path, my position years ago did not have budget responsibility; instead, through my involvement in CACUSS as a volunteer, I was able to build some of that knowledge and experience into my own repertoire. And I made many lasting connections along the way. Sharing your knowledge with others Another way to build your own opportunities for learning is to synthesize your knowledge and share it with others. Presenting at conferences or regional events, facilitating a book club, writing for Communiqué, developing a webinar proposal, and sharing online resources are all ways where knowledge sharing is a tool for both those who share and for those who receive! Building informal learning opportunities CACUSS will continue to build opportunities for our members so that the value of your membership brings greater returns. This means expanding both free, volunteer, and feefor-registration opportunities through our central planning and through our communities. For example, in 2015-2016 we went from 7 webinars offered in the previous year, to over 20 webinars offered free of charge to members so far.

Communities of Practice Jennifer Hamilton CACUSS has always been a community of practice. Since before the “Mission of Student Services” in 1989, our colleagues before us would gather together to share experiences and learn from one another. In many ways, the former divisions were structured as communities of practice, and they have now evolved into diverse communities to develop better understanding We look forward to launching our new professional development plan in the of practice and knowledge sharing. Perhaps you also find communities of practice coming months. We will continue to do all we can to give you opportunities to learn on your campus, within your department or division, where you learn from one and share your knowledge! another and are intentional in sharing. Whether you participate actively or passively, communities can be crucial knowledge resources for us all. Please be in touch. Mentoring The Leadership Educators Community within CACUSS recently launched a @cacusstweets mentoring pilot program called “Leadership Links.” The program is intended to connect two professionals for resource sharing and professional support. Seeking out a mentor is one way to build your work knowledge and career skills. Although CACUSS does not currently offer a formal mentoring program outside of “Leadership Links,” there are many opportunities to use your membership to reach out to other folks in your province and across the country, such as by browsing CACUSS’s online membership directory. There are many times in my own career where I


Mise à jour de la directrice générale


mesure que les budgets de perfectionnement professionnel deviennent de plus en plus serrés, un grand nombre d’entre nous cherchent des moyens créatifs de se prévaloir d’occasions d’apprentissage qui enrichiront notre travail et nos compétences professionnelles. Comme vous le savez sans doute, il y a longtemps que l’ASEUCC place au centre de ses préoccupations les besoins de perfectionnement professionnel de ses membres. Nous savons aussi que nous pouvons faire plus, faire mieux et offrir plus de possibilités à nos membres. À la suite de l’évaluation des besoins des membres de 2015, l’ASEUCC est allée de l’avant avec les recommandations formulées en embauchant une équipe pour élaborer un cadre d’apprentissage et un plan de perfectionnement professionnel pour notre organisation. Vous pouvez en apprendre davantage sur l’avancement du projet à la page 10. Une fois que le plan aura été dressé, nous espérons engager un consultant pour en faire l’élaboration et la mise en œuvre. Les prochains mois s’annoncent très excitants! Entre-temps, je me suis concentrée sur le soutien de l’apprentissage et du perfectionnement professionnel des membres. (Par voie de divulgation, c’est aussi parce que c’est mon domaine de recherche, étant donné que je fais actuellement des études de doctorat à l’Ontario Institute for Studies in Education [OISE] de l’Université de Toronto.) Selon mon expérience personnelle, je sais que l’apprentissage se fait de différentes manières et non seulement par la participation à des ateliers officiels, à des congrès et à des webinaires. Bien sûr, nous voulons que vous perceviez l’ASEUCC comme étant un élément essentiel de votre perfectionnement professionnel annuel, mais nous reconnaissons que nous sommes tous novateurs dans la façon dont nous construisons notre propre apprentissage. Communautés de pratique L’ASEUCC a toujours été une communauté de pratique. Même avant la « Mission of Student Services » (mission des services aux étudiants), en 1989, nos collègues de l’époque se réunissaient pour échanger leurs expériences et apprendre l’un de l’autre. À bien des égards, les anciennes divisions étaient structurées comme des communautés de pratique et elles sont aujourd’hui devenues des communautés diversifiées afin de parvenir à une meilleure compréhension des échanges de pratiques et de connaissances. Peut-être que vous retrouvez aussi des communautés de pratique sur votre campus, au sein de votre service ou de votre division, où vous apprenez les uns des autres et où vous cherchez à échanger. Que vous y participiez activement ou passivement, les communautés peuvent être des ressources de connaissances cruciales pour nous tous. Mentorat La communauté Leadership Educators au sein de l’ASEUCC a récemment lancé un projet pilote de mentorat appelé « Leadership Links ». Le programme a pour but

d’établir un lien entre deux professionnels pour échange de ressources et soutien professionnel. Se trouver un mentor est l’une des façons de bâtir vos connaissances et compétences professionnelles. Bien que l’ASEUCC n’offre pas actuellement de programme de mentorat officiel autre que le « Leadership Links », il existe de nombreuses possibilités d’utiliser votre statut de membre pour nouer des relations avec d’autres personnes dans votre province et à l’échelle du pays, par exemple en parcourant le répertoire électronique des membres de l’ASEUCC. À maintes reprises au cours de ma propre carrière, j’ai pris contact avec un collègue de l’ASEUCC pour demander conseil, tout comme bien des professionnels plus jeunes ont sollicité mon avis. C’est une expérience enrichissante pour l’un et pour l’autre. S’investir dans une association professionnelle Nous encourageons nos étudiants à s’engager, car nous savons que c’est un bon moyen d’acquérir des compétences et d’établir des liens avec la communauté universitaire. Mais qu’en est-il de nous? Assumer un rôle de direction au sein d’une association peut nous aider à affiner nos compétences et à construire notre propre réseau de connaissances. Par exemple, si vous manquez d’expérience dans l’élaboration de politiques, le fait de vous investir dans une association peut vous donner l’occasion de vous y exercer. Dans le cadre de mon cheminement professionnel, le poste que j’occupais il y a quelques années ne comportait pas de responsabilités budgétaires; cependant, grâce à mon engagement à titre de bénévole à l’ASEUCC, j’ai été en mesure d’acquérir des compétences et de l’expérience en cette matière, que j’ai pu ajouter à mon curriculum vitæ. En outre, j’ai tissé de nombreux liens durables en cours de route. Transmettre vos connaissances aux autres Une autre façon de bâtir vos propres occasions d’apprentissage est de synthétiser vos connaissances et de les communiquer aux autres. Faire des présentations dans des congrès ou des événements régionaux, faciliter un club de lecture, écrire pour Communiqué, élaborer une proposition pour un webinaire et partager des ressources en ligne sont tous des moyens où l’échange de connaissances est un outil à la fois pour ceux qui communiquent et ceux qui reçoivent! Bâtir des occasions d’apprentissage informelles L’ASEUCC continuera à bâtir des occasions pour nos membres, de sorte que la valeur de leur adhésion leur apporte davantage. En ce sens, nous élargirons les occasions gratuites, de bénévolat et comportant des frais d’inscription par l’intermédiaire de la planification centrale et de nos communautés. Par exemple, en 2015-2016, nous avons offert jusqu’à présent plus de 20 webinaires gratuits aux membres, comparativement à 7 durant l’exercice précédent. Nous nous réjouissons à la perspective de lancer notre nouveau plan de perfectionnement professionnel au cours des prochains mois. Nous continuerons à faire tout en notre possible pour vous fournir des occasions d’apprendre et de communiquer vos connaissances! @cacusstweets

Time to update your member profile!! Please login and update your community preferences, and ensure that your membership information is up to date!! 6 / COMMUNIQUÉ / TOME 17 / NUMÉRO 1 / HIVER 2016

CACUSS sends out weekly member updates and CACUSS communities regularly share information and events. If your member profile is out of date, you are missing this important information!!

Update: Canadian PostSecondary Education Collaborative on Reducing Alcohol-Related Harms (CPSEC-RAH)


anadian colleges and universities are collectively taking steps to address the shared concern of reducing alcohol-related harms on campus. A survey of 34,039 students from 32 Canadian campuses, conducted by the Canadian Consortium of the American College Health Association - National College Health Assessment in 2013 identified many of the challenges faced by institutions. For example, just over one quarter (26.8%) of students who drink reported drinking seven or more drinks the last time they “partied” or socialized, well above the limits recommended by Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines of no more than two drinks for women and three for men on a given day. Students also reported negative consequences from their drinking, most commonly: doing something they later regretted (38.5%), forgetting where they were or what they did (31.2%), having unprotected sex (20.8%), or physically injuring themselves (19.9%).

The need for a collaborative framework to help address alcohol-related harms on Canadian college and university campuses was recognized in November 2014 when nearly 40 university and college leaders, supporting organizations, and national public health organizations met in Ottawa to establish a Canadian collaborative on alcohol-related harms. The formation of this collaborative was inspired by a similar group in the United States, the National College Health Improvement Program (NCHIP), a consortium of 31 universities dedicated to sharing best practices in an attempt to reduce alcohol harms. The Collaborative hosted its first meeting in May 2015 in advance of the CACUSS Conference in Vancouver. The formation of a Charter document was an outcome from that meeting and is currently being reviewed and signed off by the president at collaborative member institutions. The CPSEC-RAH will provide a framework to encourage and support post-secondary educational institutions in efforts, such as evidence-informed decision making in the application of alcohol policies, the sharing of best practices, and regular evaluation of efforts – all working toward reducing alcohol-related harms on campus. Stakeholder organizations involved in the efforts include the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, Universities Canada, the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services, and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. The Mission of the Collaborative is to maximize the positive development, success, and general wellbeing of students. The Collaborative aims to reduce harms related to alcohol consumption at Canadian universities and colleges. The Collaborative will make use of a socio-ecological framework, an evidence-based approach, common indicators, and an open sharing of strategies and results. The Collaborative will offer its members and partners knowledge and experience to reduce alcohol-related harms at universities and colleges across the country. The next meeting of the Collaborative will take place in June 2016 in Winnipeg. For more information on the Collaborative, please email or call Scott Duguay, St. Thomas University (506-452-7056) or James Sanford, Acadia University (902-585-1460).


What to Expect at #CACUSS16 by Liz Hilliard


he Program Development Subcommittee has been working together to present new approaches to a favourite conference element and to the conclusion of the CACUSS conference.

Developing on the success of 60/90 Ideas in 90 Minutes, this year we are proud to offer Big Ideas in 90 minutes. Big Ideas will provide a venue for colleagues to share their insights, ideations, and interpretations on a variety of topics including mental health, student development, and intersectionality of identity in a ten-minute, three-slide presentation. Those attending the Big Idea sessions are encouraged to engage through live tweeting, continuing the conversations at networking breaks, and bringing these Big Ideas back to their campuses and Communities of Practice. A new element to this year’s conference will be the CACUSS Conference Weavers. Weavers will participate throughout the entire conference in order to explore points of learning, emerging ideas, new trends, and tension. The Weavers will then weave these elements together in our closing session highlighting our Muddy Waters, where there is challenge, and celebrating

our Blue Skies, where there is potential for innovation and growth. This new approach will provide a summative close to the conference experience and inspire action post-conference. We are pleased to announce our CACUSS Conference keynote speaker, Jack Saddleback. Jack currently serves as the first transgender and third Aboriginal person elected as president of the University of Saskatchewan Student Union. Jack is an award-winning artist and and filmmaker who has sat on the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Youth Council, was selected as one of the five representatives of the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health’s Faces of Mental Illness campaign, and has co-presented at the 2013 CACUSS conference in Montreal. Jack has been faced with issues of belonging throughout his life - as a child moving from hometown reservation to the city, as a youth being one of the only gender-variant and students of colour in school, and now as a student leader striving to create belonging in his community. We look forward to Jack sharing his journey through Muddy Waters to Blue Skies - offering ideas and insights about identity, belonging, balance, support, and the student experience. We look forward to seeing you in Winnipeg at CACUSS 2016! Liz Hilliard is the Manager, Campus Life at UBC’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna, BC and is the chair of the marvellous CACUSS 2016 Program Development Subcommittee, which includes Dion Fawcett, Jan Byrd, Jacqueline Beaulieu, Lori Walkow, and Barry Townshend. Liz can be reached at

Jack Saddleback “There Are No Closets in Tipis” Gender Equality + Education + Identity

Everyone has an identity. Mine just happens to be rarer than most”- Jack Saddleback

In his wake, Jack Saddleback eliminates gender barriers. Jack is a Cree Two-Spirited Transgender Gay Man. He is the first elected Transgender Student Union president of University of Saskatchewan and only the fourth Aboriginal person to hold that position. Jack captivates his audience in sharing his message of Embracing Two Spirits, Conquering Mental Health, and Finding One’s Identity. Jack has found many struggles not only from the world at large but from his own Native community. This has not stopped him from reaching new heights. He embraces life with an open mind and a child-like curiosity that helps push his own limits in the pursuit of happiness. Jack brings a new way to understand gender identity and he embodies what gender equality should be. Jack spent the first four years of his life on his home reservation of the Samson Cree Nation. Moving with his Family to Calgary, Alberta at the age of four didn’t stop him from being instilled with Cree values, which comes through in everything he does. Artist, Speaker and lifelong learner, Jack possesses a powerful zest for life.


CACUSS 2016 Keynote Speaker Jack Saddleback

Welcome to Friendly Manitoba! Get Ready for CACUSS 2016

city, with many venues offering free concerts for people walking by. The new Canadian Museum for Human Rights is our city’s newest addition, a place to educate and share stories, discussion, and viewpoints – all with the goal of creating a world where everyone is respected and valued. What’s more, during your stay you have the benefit of viewing The Witness Blanket Exhibition, created from items reclaimed from Indian residential schools, churches, and government buildings across Canada. The Witness Blanket is on display until June 26.

by Cindee Laverge


elcome to Manitoba, where Canada’s Heart Beats!

As you prepare to visit our beautiful province and its capital city, Winnipeg, we wanted to make sure you knew a little about our province’s rich history and what you can hope to experience while you’re here! The heart of our city is the Forks Market. It’s a special place where people for more than 6000 years journeyed to the junction of Winnipeg’s Red and Assiniboine rivers – now known as the Forks – to meet, trade, and share experiences. The historic Forks of Winnipeg and Red River College’s campuses sit at the crossroads of the Anishinaabe, Métis, Cree, Dakota, and Oji-Cree Nations, and the traditional territory of the Métis Nation. This year’s theme recognizes and embraces that.

Aerial view of the Forks. Source: Tourism Winnipeg

The theme at this year’s conference is Muddy Waters, Blue Skies, and I think it’s very fitting. Muddy Waters recognizes that connection as it is the Cree name for the City of Winnipeg, and the Blue Skies are how we, as professionals, work tirelessly to broaden our horizons as our students travel through their post-secondary journey. The timing and theme of this year’s conference couldn’t be better as we recognize the cultural and historic aspect of Manitoba’s Indigenous Peoples. The historic Forks will play host to the Aboriginal Day Live & Celebration on Saturday, June 18, just one day before the pre-conference. If you’re already in town, it’s a cultural celebration of Canada’s Indigenous peoples that you don’t want to miss. There you will have the opportunity to experience musical performances from some of Manitoba and Canada’s well-known Aboriginal performing artists, enjoy singing, dancing, and visit with the many artisans. Our city of more than 730,000 has always been economically strong and diverse. We have nurtured a robust workforce: skilled, talented, and productive. Three major post-secondary educational institutions, including Red River College, the University of Manitoba, and the University of Winnipeg, are located in Winnipeg with a combined enrollment of more than 40,000 students. Arts and culture lovers from around the world hail Winnipeg as one of Canada’s must-see destinations. While you are here for CACUSS 2016, Winnipeg’s International Jazz Festival will be taking place, and you will be able to hear it all throughout the

Witness blanket exhibition at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR). Source: CMHR

While the conference is four days in length, taking full advantage of the time before the conference and after is a definite must. Your host committee this year has organized some amazing opportunities for you that satisfy a variety of interests. Spend an afternoon gazing across a beautiful prairie landscape at Fort Whyte Alive where knowledgeable interpreters are ready to lead you through 640 acres of pristine beauty and prairie history while you watch a herd of bison grazing gracefully through the fields. Or travel to Winnipeg’s world-renown Journey to Churchill Exhibit where you can dine under the dancing Northern Lights in the Aurora Borealis Theatre, watching one of our many polar bears and sea lions swimming. The zoo also features extremely rare animals, such as red pandas and snow leopards, along with over 200 other species. And let’s not forget about Winnie the Pooh, Winnipeg’s famous bear! Or take a historic tour of Manitoba’s Legislative Building with well-known Winnipeg author Frank Albo as he takes you on his Hermetic Code tour where he will unveil the hidden secrets, occult clues, and Freemasonic symbols that were so intelligently masked that they were hidden from historians and visitors for nearly a century! CACUSS 2016 is going to once again offer great programming and many amazing opportunities, so I truly encourage you to round out your Manitoban experience by taking full advantage of the many historic and cultural events and activities that await you in the heart of Canada.

Manitoba Legislative Building. Source: Tourism Winnipeg

See you in June! Visit to learn more about our great city! Cindee Laverge is the Vice-President of Student Services and Planning at Red River College and is the Chair of the 2016 Conference Host Committee. COMMUNIQUÉ / VOLUME 17 / ISSUE 1 / WINTER 2016 / 9

Developing a Competency Framework & Professional Development Plan for Canadian Student Affairs Professionals by the CACUSS Learning Framework and Professional Development Plan Project Team (Patty Hambler, Tracey Mason-Innes, Corinna Fitzgerald, and Darran Fernandez)


management, student mental health and wellbeing, integration, the built environment, support for distance learners, and Information Technology. This paper brought to the light the challenges facing the professionalization of Canadian student affairs. However, Fisher emphasized that CACUSS should focus on “professional preparation and competency, rather than on a strict adherence to standards of practice” (p. 18). The CACUSS Identity Project influenced the next steps in creating a competency framework and professional development. Patricia Pardo, incoming CACUSS President, presented a paper to CACUSS in 2012 in consideration of the development of a professional development model for Student Affairs professionals. She addressed the work conducted by Fisher (2011) but proposed how a national association, like CACUSS, could deliver professional development that benefits both the organization and its membership. She proposed that CACUSS consider adopting the 10 ACPA/NASPA (2010) competencies (after adjusting them to ensure a Canadian focus), then create a Professional Development Certificate based on said competencies (p. 6). Pardo recommended that the “Annual Conference should remain the cornerstone of a CACUSS PD (sic) program,” and a model could be based on “where ACPA and NASPA are heading” (p.11).

ACUSS has conducted research and held conversations about the development of a competency framework and professional development plan for those working in the Canadian student affairs field. Key articles published in Communiqué (Robinson, 2003; Seifert & Billing, 2010; Fisher, 2011) introduced the CACUSS membership to current and critical issues, while research (Pardo, 2012; Seifert, 2014; Massey & Massey, 2015) supported and influenced the next steps for the creation of a framework.

Seifert (2014) commented on the role CACUSS plays in the professional development of its members, saying that “in the absence of graduate preparation programs to cultivate a student affairs and services staff member’s professional identity…CACUSS has taken the lead in providing professional development and education” (p. 296). Seifert suggested CACUSS should build upon its capacity to educate and provide professional development to its members, and to ground their educational endeavours (e.g., workshops, annual conference, media outlets, sponsored projects) in the mission statement and guiding principles of the organization. This work, in addition to the aforementioned Communiqué articles, guided the 2015 Members Needs Assessment conducted by CACUSS.

This article will give an overview of past research and discussions to date, more recent data, and what the project moving forward entails.

In 2015, CACUSS administered surveys to new and existing CACUSS members and conducted focus groups across the country. A report compiled by Massey & Massey (2015) summarized the findings and made recommendations. The assessment gleaned valuable information on the membership’s demographic profile, professional development needs, use of publications and resources, and level of engagement with CACUSS. Participants indicated strong satisfaction with the opportunity CACUSS provides to network outside their specific discipline and with other Canadian student affairs professionals. Other findings included members’ desire for intentional regional content (e.g., conferences, workshops, webinars), opportunities for senior leadership engagement (both for themselves and those they lead), and more sophisticated modes of communication (e.g., relevant website, interactive emails, stronger social media presence).

Some background: Historical research and discussions (2003-2012) Initially, the discussion focused on the challenges CACUSS must overcome in order to develop a competency and professional development framework. Robinson (2003) evaluated how a professional development model should be created in Canada, despite the lack of critical mass of student affairs professionals in Canada and limited academic research at the time. Robinson argued a framework could be modelled after US associations, such as the US-based National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) and American College Personnel Association (ACPA); however, the model must be based on Canada’s distinct strengths, context, and culture. In 2010, Seifert and Billing challenged a first-year “Introduction to Student Services” master’s class at the University of Toronto to develop a set of Canadian competencies based on the existing ACPA (2007) framework. The students determined the following ACPA competencies work within the Canadian context: Advising, Assessment and Evaluation, Ethics, Pluralism and Inclusion, Student Learning and Development, Planning and Implementation, Communication, and Professional Development. Continuing to identify the unique strengths of the Canadian system of higher education, Fisher (2011) summarized the work undertaken by student affairs leaders as part of The CACUSS Identity Project. Fisher characterized the Canadian system as mostly public, shaped by geography, with limited institutional differentiation, and considerable institutional autonomy. Identified as contemporary issues within the Canadian context were Aboriginal education; access, diversity and inclusion; globalization of higher education; student engagement; and accountability. Fisher described emerging trends within the field, specifically strategic enrollment 10 / COMMUNIQUÉ / TOME 17 / NUMÉRO 1 / HIVER 2016

Recent developments: 2015 Needs Assessment

In order for CACUSS to move forward successfully in developing a competency framework and professional development plan, Massey and Massey (2015) ended their report with these recommendations: 1. Create clear pathways for engagement. 2. Establish a clear role of senior student affairs officers. 3. Expand regional emphasis through:

a. Structure of the organization

b. Professional development

c. Communication networks and structures

4. Develop and implement a comprehensive plan to engage the Francophone community. 5. Establish a set of competencies and best practices for Canadian student affairs. 6. Develop a comprehensive professional development plan that intentionally addresses regional needs and level/years of experience.

The current project at hand


To address the last two recommendations put forth by Massey and Massey (2015), CACUSS put forward a request for proposals (RFP) in September 2015. The consulting group of Patty Hambler, Tracey Mason-Innes, Corinna Fitzgerald and Darran Fernandez – student services professionals with experience from across the country – was selected to develop a competency framework and resulting professional development plan for the organization and its ever-growing membership of just over 1,400 professionals, with a penultimate copy for presentation and sharing at the CACUSS conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba in June 2016.

American College Personnel Association & NASPA. (2010). Professional competency areas for student affairs practice. Washington, DC: Author.

Developing a competency framework and professional development plan that is tangible and applicable to student services professionals is foundational to the success of this project. The framework and plan will: • Guide Canadian student affairs/services staff and institutions in understanding the current relevant knowledge, skills, and competencies to be successful in their roles. • Provide CACUSS with a foundation on which to build professional development products and services, such as learning institutes, monographs, and conference learning outcomes, which will support the work of our members and advance the student affairs profession in Canada. There has been much work already done by CACUSS and other student affairs associations (e.g., ACPA/NASPA, ACUHO-I, ACRAO) around competencies and the bodies of knowledge necessary to accomplish the work that we do. In the process of research, the consulting team has noted commonalities and differences in proposed approaches to this project. As active members, the team has also noted important recent developments in CACUSS, such as the new Community of Practice Model and the change in approach to programming for the annual conference.

Fisher, D. (2011, Spring). Learners in Learning: Student Affairs in Canada in the 21st Century & Implications for the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services. Communiqué 11(3), 12-18. Massey, J., Massey, K.D. (2015). CACUSS Needs Assessment, Final Report. Research paper prepared for the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services. Toronto: Canada. Pardo, P. (2012). Enhancing Our Identity as Canadian Student Affairs Professionals: Considering A CACUSS Professional Development Model. Research paper prepared for the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services. Toronto: Canada. Robinson, N. (2003, Spring). Student affairs in Canada and the United States: Will we follow the American model? Communiqué, 3(3), 17-19. Seifert, T. (2014). Student Affairs and Services Staff in English-Speaking Canadian Postsecondary Institutions and the Role of CACUSS in Professional Education. Journal of College Student Development, 55(3), 295-309. Seifert, T. and Billing, M. (2010, Fall). Competencies for Canadian Student Affairs Practice: Crafting a professional development plan. Communiqué, 11(1), 20-22.

Moving forward, input from student affairs professionals across Canada, both CACUSS members and non-members, is critical to the success of this project. Interviews with stakeholders, focus groups, and online forums will be part of the process of engagement to ensure that voices can be heard and effective feedback shared, while we build these foundational elements for the profession in Canada. How can you become involved? Visit our blog at and don’t hesitate to connect by email at cdn.

Notice of Annual General Meeting Wednesday, June 22, 2016 l 12:00 PM CT RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg, Manitoba Please join us at the AGM! COMMUNIQUÉ / VOLUME 17 / ISSUE 1 / WINTER 2016 / 11




Between Revisions: On Leaving Academia for Student Affairs by Vanessa Di Francesco


s part of my wide-ranging work in communications at McGill University, I help develop, manage, and edit several student-facing webpages. Whenever a webpage is modified in any way, McGill’s Web Management System automatically identifies a new “revision,” or version, and saves it. As our IT guidebook reports, an “unlimited number of revisions” can be created and saved.

editing jobs in the past and thought I could put some of those transferable skills I was always hearing about to work in helping me pay the last bit of my tuition and save for my Ph.D. I shuffled between two versions of myself: Vanessa the Academic and Vanessa the Communications and Student Affairs Professional – daily and surprisingly happily. Of course, when I finally graduated, I faced having to decide between the two. A Ph.D., especially in its first phase, can hardly be pursued together with (mostly) unrelated and nearly full-time work. Would I commit to the current revision of myself as a budding professional or would I revert to my past academic self? Breaking up with academia is hard to do, perhaps precisely because you feel you are forsaking some version of yourself for another. Ultimately, my decision turned on several points. For one, after being asked to take on a project in Student Services that will significantly improve student access to health information and campus resources, I felt I had the rare opportunity to help revise a structure that I had myself struggled to navigate as a student in need of support.

On any given day, I might find myself sifting through a long list of these webpage revisions, needing to pinpoint a previous iteration of some piece of information to either revert back to or compare with the currently published one. Carrying out this perfectly simple task a few weeks ago, I came to a quiet realization and made an imperfect decision: I would turn down my offer of admission to a Ph.D. and leave academia. My partner often teases me about making the most mundane moments into overwrought metaphors for our lives. If the metaphor fits, wear it, I say.

In only a few months, then, I have shifted from revising my thesis to helping revise student-facing communications at McGill, from one version of myself to another. However satisfying I find my work, I do already and regularly miss academia. The longing is especially acute, I think, when you’ve studied a rather niche topic. Last week, walking through the library to get to a work meeting, I realized that I might be the only person on a campus of tens of thousands who can tell you exactly where to find every book on fifteenth century Florentine painted chests. (There are surprisingly many.) I imagined closed chests in closed books and wondered if anyone would open either again for years. Then I thought back to the backlog of webpage revisions and took comfort. Maybe I’d open those books again one day. After all, an unlimited number of revisions can be created and saved.

Only three months ago, I was making the last of what then seemed like endless revisions to my Master’s thesis. I have since graduated with a M.A. from McGill’s Department of Art History and Communication Studies, successfully completing a thesis on Renaissance marriage chests (“cassone”) that ties their use and reception to concurrent dance and performance practices and, of all things, modern horror films. For the better part of the writing and revising, I was working part-time at what gradually became a more or less full-time job. I had held several writing and

Recovering Art Historian and Communications Professional, Vanessa Di Francesco currently serves as a communications coordinator for several offices at McGill University and also works as a freelance writer and editor. You can connect with Vanessa by email at or on Twitter @V_DiFrancesco. You can access Vanessa’s aforementioned thesis at


Revising Our Schedules: Building Self Care and Reflection into Our Working Lives

student community, then the student staff community, then the professional staff, and then you. I can be so bad at this.”

by Alicia Flatt

So how did the Residence Life professionals plan to support themselves when they felt physically and emotionally exhausted? All 11 participants unanimously discussed taking a day off work. Participants agreed that removing themselves from campus and doing something that was not work-related was the primary way to administer self care after responding to a crisis. Three of the participants noted that there is a rhythm to the seasons of Residence Life; there will be peak periods of high intensity and other periods when taking time off work is possible and encouraged.


n Student Services we encourage our students to practice self care, but are we listening to our own advice? A recent study conducted on supporting student bereavement across 11 university campuses in Ontario highlights the struggle Residence Life professionals face when finding time to rest, reflect, and care for themselves after a student crisis. How can we, as Student Services professionals, revise our schedules to allow for this life-giving exercise? For my Master’s thesis (see References section for link), I conducted a study on Residence Life professionals’ responses to student crises across Ontario. I conducted interviews with twelve Residence Life professionals who had at least five years of experience in leadership positions. In the study, participants in Ontario were asked a series of questions to determine how they would respond to a hypothetical scenario. One of the final questions in the study was, “You find that after two weeks [of responding to the student crisis] you as a professional are feeling emotionally and physically exhausted. How do you support yourself?” This question yielded interesting responses, as it shifted the focus from caring for others to caring for oneself. Five themes emerged from the participants’ responses: the difficulty and importance of self care, days off, personal and professional networks, ‘life-giving’ activities, and counselling. Difficulty and Importance of Self Care Everyone interviewed acknowledged that responding to their own needs was an important part of excelling in the workplace. Over half of the participants specifically mentioned the prevalent discussion of self care in Student Services, and yet four of the twelve participants’ initial responses to the question of self care was some iteration of, “I am the worst at this.” One of the biggest obstacles to taking time to recharge and reflect is the nature of the work itself. As one participant stated, “The problem is, and this is true of a lot of other work places as well, but we own it maybe too much in Residence Life, that there is always more work to be done. You never leave work thinking, ‘Oh I’m done everything!’” Another participant added, “It’s not like doing dishes. You are never done. You can’t just check off boxes. It’s bigger picture stuff that you are never done. It is knowing what the priorities are, being able to delegate, and being able to let things go.” One of the participants’ roles was supervising other professional staff. He said, “You are really the last in line [to receive help after a crisis]. It is first the 14 / COMMUNIQUÉ / TOME 17 / NUMÉRO 1 / HIVER 2016

Even though finding the right time to stop and recharge is difficult, the importance of this skill is evident to those working in this field. Six of the participants were able to articulate that self care is what makes Residence Life professionals able to care for others. For example, one participant concluded their response with, “If you are feeling emotionally exhausted or challenged, if you don’t take care of you, you can’t take care of anyone else.” Take a Day Off

A day off is a good time to take an inventory of how you are doing physically and mentally. As one participant stated, “I would also evaluate where I am at with my own self care. So, am I sleeping? Am I getting proper nutrition? Am I active? You know, how my daily routine maybe changed since this incident has occurred. What strategies can I put in place to get myself back there?” Use Your Networks Seven participants said that they would turn to their personal support networks if they were feeling overwhelmed at work. Friends and family were significant sources of support to those in leadership positions in Residence Life. Self care can include “finding a neutral third-party to debrief, where appropriate.” Five participants also discussed turning to their supervisor for support if they began feeling burnt out. In some cases, participants have told their supervisor they needed assistance with some of their tasks. Asking for help in this context is not a sign of weakness but of courage. Participants noted that it can be difficult for those who are constantly helping others to ask for help themselves, but it is vital in this field to learn to do so. Life-Giving Activities For many participants, the best way to relieve stress is to minimize responsibilities and to remove themselves from the stressors they face. One participant also noted that recharging oneself is not always about removing responsibility but adding activities that promote rejuvenation. “In this profession we talk a lot about balance, but for me it’s more about lifestyle. I would … add something in my life that would recharge me, and that is not necessarily always time off.” Another participant added that he tried to find activities which were “life-giving”. When I asked participants what recharges them, the answers were often as unique as the participants themselves and included running, yoga, meditation, travel, church involvement, socializing, and eating well. Counselling and Employment Assistance Programs Finally, self care includes using the resources available at the university, like Counselling Services and Employment Assistance Programs (EAP). As one participant

stated, “We should also realize if we need counselling, we need to go to counselling as well. We always say that the students need to go and it’s not a, ‘You are not crazy if you go!’ and all that, but do we listen to that? Probably not, right? So we need to listen to our own advice.” If you are feeling overwhelmed after responding to a student crisis, help is available. Revising Your Practice There are a number of ways to develop a self-care routine in order to maintain your mental health. It may mean scheduling time off after a busy season at work; maintaining strong relationships with friends, family, and supervisors; delegating tasks; and finding activities that energize and restore you. It may also mean seeking help from counsellors and encouraging others to do the same. Self care will look different for each individual. In light of the advice and reflections of other professionals, how might you revise and adjust the way you practice self care this year?

References Flatt, Alicia (2015). Supporting student grief: Attitudes and beliefs of Residence Life professionals when responding to student bereavement. (Master’s Thesis). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. ( Alicia Flatt works as the Program Assistant for the School of Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo, and recently graduated with a Master of Arts in Higher Education from the University of Toronto.

Follow CACUSS! CACUSS sends out weekly member digests via email. For up-to-the-minute member news and updates, follow us on twitter @cacusstweets or Like our Facebook page


Career Education Reimagined: Ryerson’s New Model of Holistic Career Development

out to us, to a proactive approach that embeds the Career Centre team into faculties (Prong 1) and alongside student groups (Prong 2). The Career Centre offering is then cemented with core programming aimed at supporting students facing similar challenges in the labour market, irrespective of their program of study (Prong 3).

by Caroline Konrad

Prong One: Academic - Delivery in Faculty


or our students, retirement at 65 is an unlikely option, as is a “job for life,” with the average graduate expected to hold 15 positions and change sectors as many as three times over the course of their career (Harris, 2014). Like many PSEs today, Ryerson grappled with how to respond to the increasing call for career education to reflect the needs of today’s “talent economy” (Schwartz, Liakopoulos, & Barry, 2014). Following three years of consultation with students, alumni, faculty, and employers, the feedback was not unique but resoundingly clear: We serve those who come to us very well, but our entire student populations are vastly underserved. Ryerson responded by restructuring its career education model into a “3 Pronged Approach,” which was initially self-financed, encouraging University buy-in for the proposal. At once nimble and mobile, the Ryerson University Career Centre team now provides specialized support for students that helps them connect their academic, co-curricular, and personal experiences to building a “career for life.”

To be successful, post-secondary career education cannot be delivered by the Career Centre alone. It must be like a thread, weaving the career dialogue across campus. Fundamental to Ryerson’s model and embedded in its “5 Pillars of Ryerson Student Affairs” is collaboration on program development with on-campus partners who bring expertise in a particular area, be it English language support or disability services.

Our Faculty-based model enables our Career Consultants to understand more deeply the career development needs of their students, to build strong relationships with faculty members, and to nurture meaningful connections with employers in related job sectors. In practice, a Consultant is aligned to each Faculty, often physically based there for half the week, enabling them to absorb its culture and be abreast of on-the-ground developments. In the summer leading up to the new academic year, Consultants agree with the Deanery on the Faculty’s strategic goals and meet with Program Directors to understand specific, on-the-ground needs. The result is a Faculty Career Development Program (CDP), with tailored sessions for each program and year of study. Where appropriate, sessions are addressed to several student cohorts. Where appropriate, sessions are addressed to several student cohorts. Despite concerns that curriculum demands may leave minimal room to deliver career sessions within a program of study, our experience shows that when Faculty are presented with a sound, tailored program, which seeks to address their students’ distinct employability challenges, doors will open. Already one year on, our Consultants are trialling both mandatory session delivery and exploring credit-bearing modules. Prong Two: Co-Curricular - Via Student Groups & Societies Students are most successful in “seamless environments” where they can make connections between classroom and out-of-classroom experiences (Kuh, 1996). Recognizing this connection, we now have a dedicated team who proactively reach out to students in their co-curricular learning spaces. Through relationship building, our team is able to understand the employability issues that are top of mind for a specific club or society. Similar to in-Faculty delivery, Consultants design and arrange programming that helps student group members to recognize and integrate seamlessly these experiences into their career planning. To support both our Faculty and Co-Curricular pillars, a Student Ambassador team delivers targeted classroom talks and collaborative programming with student clubs, together with general outreach activities, thereby embodying the power of peer-to-peer interactions. Prong Three: Acknowledging the Personal - Meeting Distinct Needs

Ryerson’s Career Model: 3 Pronged Approach

Ryerson’s 3 Pronged Approach takes inspiration from the “hub and spoke” career centre model commonly used in business schools and increasingly in the UK, such as at the Universities of Birmingham, Leeds, and Southampton. It incorporates our fervent belief that career education must be holistic and committed to the wider pursuit of equity, diversity, inclusion, and access for all. On these principles, the central Career Centre moved from a reactive model dependent on students reaching 16 / COMMUNIQUÉ / TOME 17 / NUMÉRO 1 / HIVER 2016

Many students enter post-secondary at a disadvantage to their peers. They may not be equipped with as strong a network that they can tap into for work experience and graduate roles, or their family background is unfamiliar with the reality of career building at the post-secondary level. Still others, such as those with a disability, will face barriers placed on them by society when they graduate, irrespective of their skillset. As career professionals, we have a responsibility to advance social justice and equip our students with the know-how to navigate these seemingly insurmountable barriers (Arthur, 2014). As a result, the third pillar of our Career Model focuses on revitalizing the traditional central offering to focus on providing programming tailored to the needs of distinct student groups, irrespective of their program of study. Our Voices of Experience speaker and networking series provides students with role models from similar personal backgrounds whom they can relate to and learn from. More than any other area of the model, the Personal pillar is heavily focused on collaborating with

colleagues with expertise in a specific area. For instance, we partner with International Student Support to provide international students with dedicated programming on how to navigate the Canadian work environment or build a career back home while studying abroad. Demonstrating Impact With just a year of operations under our belt, evidence demonstrates that the new design is fast moving forward with responding to our students’ career education needs: • 60% more students reached through in-Faculty delivery. • 464% growth in student usage of Career Centre programming. • Nearly 10,000 students receiving dedicated classroom talks. • Engaged with 33 of 51 targeted student groups versus 5 previously. • Increased student group attendance by over 5,000% year-on-year. The 3 Pronged Approach is based on the principle of ensuring that learning the skills and building the relationships that will maximise a student’s future employability are an integral part of their university journey. As we continue gaining traction, our goal is not repeat student business but increasing the employability of all students, knowing that those least prepared for employment are also the least likely to seek out our services proactively. References Arthur, N. & Collins, S. (ed) (2014), Diversity and Social Justice: Guiding Concepts for Career Development Practice, Career Development in Practice in Canada: Perspectives, - and Professionalisms, (p77-104), Toronto, CA: CERIC. Chickering, A. W. and Reisser, L. (1993), The 7 Vectors of Student Development, Education and Identity (2 ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

State of the Union: Canadian Universities by Diana Bumstead


n days past, some viewed the role of universities, at least on this continent, as the creator or seedling of engaged citizens. Most notably, Benjamin Franklin stated in his pamphlet on the aims of education that “…an Ability to serve mankind…should indeed be the aim and end of all learning” (Franklin 1749). This role is now being overlooked. We see an ever-expanding push on universities to focus more and more heavily on producing, as its primary focus, productive employees. Before rushing to jump on the bandwagon, perhaps universities need to step back and revisit their values and the role they play or need they fulfill in greater society. Obviously we need jobs. Some amount of money is needed to survive. No one is arguing these points. We are not yet a society that places the health and well-being of our neighbour as equal to our own. However, we also need citizens who can

Conference Board of Canada, Employability Skills 2000+, Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (2009). CAS learning and development outcomes. In L. A. Dean (Ed.), CAS professional standards for higher education (7th ed.). Washington, DC. Harris, P. (2014, December 04). How many jobs do Canadians hold in a lifetime? - Workopolis. Retrieved from Law, B. & Watts, A.G. (1977). Schools, Careers and Community: A Study of Some Approaches to Careers Education in Schools. London: Church Information Office. Kolb. D. A. and Fry, R. (1975) Toward an applied theory of experiential learning. in C. Cooper (ed.), Theories of Group Process, London: John Wiley Keeling, R P (ed) (2004) Learning reconsidered: A campus-wide focus on the student experience, Washington, DC: National Association of Student Personnel Administrators and American College Personnel Association. Kuh, George, Guiding Principles for Creating Seamless Learning Environments for Undergraduates Journal of College Student Development, v37 n2 p135-48 Mar 1996. Schwartz, J., Liakopoulos, A., & Barry, L. (2014, July 24). The open talent economy. Retrieved from Caroline Konrad, Director, Ryerson University Career Centre, has implemented new career models at both Canadian and British institutions. Her post-secondary experience is complemented by eight years working with multinational companies and major government organisations in Brussels, London and Budapest. Caroline can be reached by email at or on Twitter @Caroline_Konrad. This article is based on a presentation delivered at the CACUSS 2015 Conference with Rachel Barreca, Manager, Campus Engagement, Ryerson Career Centre.

understand and solve today’s wicked problems. Problems that are interconnected and interdisciplinary. Growing inequality and resource exploitation truly places us all at risk. Liberal arts come into play here. We also need citizens who can work with the community to find solutions instead of imposing self-made half-solutions on communities. For a vivid illustration of this idea, watch Ernesto Sirolli’s 2012 TED Talk, “Want to Help Someone? Shut Up and Listen!” As we have the tools, such as internships and co-ops, to assist in producing productive employees, we also have the tools, such as service learning, to harbour transformative change in communities. The U.S. in particular has a stronger history of service learning and infrastructure as supported by Campus Compact. Campus Compact formed in 1985 when the presidents of Stanford, Brown, and Georgetown, alongside the Chair of the Education Commission of the States, created a coalition of college presidents committed to promoting community service. The organization serves as a service learning network and partners to enhance service learning across American campuses (Campus Compact 2015). There are noted benefits to service learning that resonate with solicited job skills – emotional maturity, increased tolerance and empathy, self-efficacy, etc. (Campus Compact 2015). In The Future of Service Learning, the editors point out case study evidence that depicts the “transformative potential of directed experiential learning (Strait & Lima, 2009, p 241). Despite this evidence and the McConnell Foundation’s early support, this initiative has not expansively taken off, with some exceptions across Canada. Service learning not a panacea; it too has areas to build upon and improve. And in a cost-benefit analysis, it is difficult to quantity qualitative benefits. For instance, what dollar value can be ascribed to helping 100 students graduate high school? However, when universities decide how to specialize or what programs to prioritize, there needs COMMUNIQUÉ / VOLUME 17 / ISSUE 1 / WINTER 2016 / 17

to be a discussion of real values and real place in society as well as the type of graduate needed in today’s big picture society. And we need to keep in mind student services.

Sirolli, E. (2012, November). TED Talk Want to Help Someone? Shut Up and Listen. TED Talk retrieved from


Strait, J. and Lima, M. (Eds.). (2009). The Future of Service Learning: New Solutions for Sustaining and Improving Practice. Virginia: Stylus Publishing.

Franklin, B. (1749). Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania. Retrieved from Campus Compact (2015). Mission and Vision. Retrieved from who-we-are/mission-and-vision.

Diana Bumstead works in Student Support Services at Huron University College and is taking students to Winnipeg to learn about poverty issues with Western’s Alternative Spring Break program. Diana can be reached at

Jacoby, B. (2015). Service Learning Essentials: Questions, Answers and Lessons Learned. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 123.

Factors Affecting Student Persistence and Strategies for Improving Retention Rates in Online Classes by Antonia Sly Nichols


mprovements in technology and growing public access to the Internet are contributing to post-secondary institutions increasing their offerings of online courses. While this expansion in education is positive, researchers report that retention rates in online courses are consistently lower than traditional in-classroom courses (Harrell, 2008; Muller, 2008; Russo-Gleicher, 2013; Willging & Johnson, 2009). This statistic makes it difficult to attract students to enroll in further online learning and puts pressure on institutions to budget accurately for enrolment numbers and hiring faculty. “The cost of losing a student is very high in terms of wasted time, effort, and money on the part of the student, the faculty, and the institution” (Willging & Johnson, 2009, p. 118). Post-secondary institutions would be wise to understand what factors influence whether a student completes, withdraws from, or fails an online course as the trend for online learning continues to rise exponentially. Several theories are referenced in the literature to understand not only why students persist in completing online courses but also to assist instructional designers and course facilitators in creating quality online learning environments to promote student retention. The foundations for these theories are three of those that guide adult education: progressive, behaviourist, and humanistic. Johnson and Aragon (2003) argue for the use of repetition and positive reinforcement, presenting information that plays to a variety of learning styles, linking new knowledge to previous learning, encouraging interaction amongst students through peer assessment, and providing personal feedback. There is consensus among many authors that the presence of both a social community (i.e., high level of interaction, feelings of cohesion, and sense of 18 / COMMUNIQUÉ / TOME 17 / NUMÉRO 1 / HIVER 2016

belonging) and a learning community (i.e., mutual values and educational goals) within an online class have a positive effect on student retention (Chang, 2004; Drouin, 2008; Liu, Gomez, & Yen, 2009; Tinto, n.d.). Tinto’s Student Integration Model (cited in Willging & Johnson, 2009) posits that a student’s likelihood of persistence is directly related to how well their “motivation and academic ability match the institution’s academic and social characteristics” (p. 116). That is, the more at home students feel with their classmates and instructors and the more confidence they have in their abilities to do the required course work, the more likely they are to persist. Factors The main factors that were reported as influencing retention in online classes ranged from conflicts within individuals’ personal lifestyles and academic abilities to issues with technology and teaching staff. One frequent complaint from students was computer technology-related problems (Chang, 2004; Drouin, 2008; Harrell, 2008; Muller, 2008; Willging & Johnson, 2009). As Drouin (2008) points out, “community building cannot even begin to take place until students feel comfortable with the online learning environment and technologies” (p. 270). Students reported feeling that the online learning environment was too impersonal, the technology overwhelmed the course content, and they were not only technically underprepared for the format but there was not enough technical support from staff and faculty (Willging & Johnson, 2009). Chang (2004) argues that this last point mutually affects the teaching staff in that instructors are not only expected to deliver the course material but also assist with solving technical problems that may negatively impact the quality of the education. Many students who opt to take courses online do so because they cannot commit the time away from family and/or employment responsibilities to enroll in a traditional inclassroom course. However, time commitment was another frequently cited factor as to why students drop out of online courses. Students reported that they felt overwhelmed by the demands of the coursework while simultaneously trying to balance their home lives and careers (Muller, 2008; Street, 2010; Willging & Johnson, 2009). Some students questioned their academic abilities and claimed that they did not feel they were ready for post-secondary level courses nor did they fully comprehend what was expected of them in their online classes. College or university “readiness” included reading, writing, and critical thinking skills, as well as computer knowledge (Muller, 2008); time-management and study skills (Gaytan, 2013; Harrell, 2008; Street, 2010); preferred learning styles (Harrell, 2008); and a level of self-efficacy (Gaytan, 2013; Hachey, Harrell, 2008; Wladis, & Conway, 2012; Johnson & Aragon, 2003; Street, 2010). Students who are not deemed up to the challenge of post-secondary level courses by themselves and/or the institutions are less likely to succeed in completing their courses. Further, students who have withdrawn from or failed previous online classes are less likely to persist online in future (Cochran, Campbell, Baker, & Leeds, 2013; Hachey, Wladis, & Conway, 2012). Although one might expect students who enroll in online courses would be aware of the implications of being physically separated from the instructor and their fellow classmates, another common factor that was reported to influence retention is the

negative impact of the “psychological distance” (Chang, 2004). Researchers found that the lack of a sense of community within an online course had a dramatic effect on retention rates. Students reported withdrawing from online classes due to feelings of isolation and disconnectedness (Chang, 2004; Drouin, 2008; Harrell, 2008). Lastly, researchers found that an influential part of students’ decisions to persist through online courses is the relationship they have with their instructors (Drouin, 2008; Gaytan, 2013; Muller, 2008; Tinto, n.d.; Willging & Johnson, 2009). Students reported that they were more likely to drop out of a course if they experienced infrequent contact from faculty, insufficient feedback on coursework, and if they felt the instructor had low expectations of the class or appeared disengaged from the material (Muller, 2008). Strategies Based on the aforementioned factors that influence persistence and the recommendations for improving student retention as discussed in the literature, potential strategies can be grouped into four main components: quality of faculty; college/university readiness; academic, personal, and technical support; and sense of community. Faculty are a critical influence on a student’s decision to complete an online class, and much of the literature focuses on suggestions to improve the quality of online instructors. Recommendations for faculty include making themselves readily available to students; responding promptly to emails, phone calls, and discussion board posts; and providing meaningful feedback on course work in a timely manner (Gaytan, 2013; Johnson & Aragon, 2003; Muller, 2008; Tinto, n.d.). Muller (2008) and Chang (2004) propose the utilization of mentors for faculty.

Veteran faculty or specially trained staff could provide guidance for less experienced faculty, give feedback on course content and activities, as well as assist them with any technical support requests from students. Russo-Gleicher (2013) recommends improving the training of online instructors including providing them with a comprehensive handbook that states what student support services are available, how to make referrals, and what at-risk behaviours to watch for, such as logging in late to the course and missing postings or assignments. Post-secondary readiness would best be addressed prior to students registering for online courses. Nolan (2013) describes the process where students who register for online classes are emailed with a detailed explanation of online learning so they can make informed choices if online is indeed the best format; many students withdraw their online registration in favour of in-class. Further, all students who will be enrolling in their first online course should complete an orientation to online learning (Gaytan, 2013; Hachey, Wladis, & Conway, 2012; Harrell, 2008; Jones, 2013). An effective orientation should be interactive, demonstrate the technical aspects of submitting assignments and posting on discussion boards, introduce net etiquette, and generally simulate an online class. Jones (2013) found that making an online orientation mandatory before students can access their online course increased retention and resulted in fewer help desk tickets during the first two weeks of class. All post-secondary institutions offer a variety of both academic and personal supports to on-campus students through a student services office, but online students either may not be aware of the services available or not be in a position to adequately

Spring is Membership Renewal Time!! CACUSS memberships expire on April 30, 2016. Renew your membership today and get access to: • Dozens of Webinars at a reduced cost or free to members • Participation in CACUSS communities • Access to Communiqué magazine, published 3x per year • Discounts on the annual conference and other regional events • Access to over $25,000 a year in awards, grants, and bursaries Thank you for your support to CACUSS and the innovative work we are doing in professional development and leading the field of Student Affairs in Canada! COMMUNIQUÉ / VOLUME 17 / ISSUE 1 / WINTER 2016 / 19

access them. Moreover, many online faculty are not aware of these services either (Russo-Gleicher, 2013). It is recommended that more attention be paid to online students and to provide them with ongoing academic, personal, and technical support in an online format (Gaytan, 2013; Hachey, Wladis, & Conway, 2012; Harrell, 2008; Russo-Gleicher, 2013; Tinto, n.d.). To reach struggling students before they fall too far behind, faculty and students would benefit from an online adviser who is the main point of contact for online learners in need of student services and whom faculty could contact for follow-up when they have concerns about students. This partnership in “early, intensive, and continuous intervention” (Liu, Gomez, & Yen, 2009, p. 172) could identify students who were unsuccessful in previous online classes, contact students who have not logged into the course or completed any work within the first few weeks, track student academic progress, provide academic advising, and make referrals for online tutoring and personal counseling. Nolan (2013) conducted a study with a cohort of students connected to an online adviser and found they had a slightly higher retention rate than the overall online population. When surveyed, the advising cohort “reported a strong desire for an adviser who stays with them throughout their educational career at the college” (Nolan, 2013, p. 50).

Jones, K. R. (2013). Developing and implementing a mandatory online student orientation. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17(1), 43-45.

Finally, building a sense of community within a cohort of online learners has shown to increase student satisfaction, which impacts retention (Drouin, 2008). Faculty should set the tone by using humour, addressing students by their first names, and encouraging student-student interaction through activities such as peer feedback on discussion boards, group projects, and using real-life case studies (Johnson & Aragon, 2003). The more students engage with faculty and each other, the more likely they are to successfully complete their courses (Tinto, n.d.).

Tinto, V. (n.d.). Taking student retention seriously: rethinking the first year of college. Retrieved from Retention %20Seriously.pdf

Online learning is a format growing in popularity and as such it is a worthwhile investment for post-secondary institutions to understand what helps students be successful online and want to enroll in future courses. It is clear from the literature that more needs to be done for online learners. Students, faculty, and staff are all responsible for the retention of students and each has a role to play regarding preparing students adequately before they register, supporting them while they are enrolled, and encouraging them to successfully complete their courses and continue their education online. References Chang, S. L. (2004). Online learning communities with online mentors (OLCOM): a model of online learning communities. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 5(2), 75-88. Cochran, J. D., Campbell, S. M., Baker, H. M. & Leeds, E. M. (2013). The role of student characteristics in predicting retention in online courses. Research in Higher Education, 55(1), 27-48. Drouin, M. A. (2008). The relationship between students’ perceived sense of community and satisfaction, achievement, and retention in an online course. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 9(3), 267-284. Gaytan, J. (2013). Factors affecting student retention in online courses: Overcoming this critical problem. Career and Technical Education Research, 38(2), 147-155. Hachey, A. C., Wladis, C. W. & Conway, K. M. (2012). Is the second time the charm? Investigating trends in online re-enrolment, retention and success. The Journal of Educators Online, 9(1), 1-25. Harrell, I. L. (2008). Increasing the success of online students. Inquiry, 13(1), 36-44. Johnson, S. D. & Aragon, S. R. (2003). An instructional strategy framework for online learning environments. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 100, 31-43.


Liu, S. Y., Gomez, J. & Yen, C. (2009). Community college online course retention and final grade: predictability of social presence. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 8(2), 165-182. Muller, T. (2008). Persistence of women in online degree-completion programs. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 9(2), 1-18. Nolan, K. (2013). Online advising pilot at community college of Vermont. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17(1), 47-51. Russo-Gleicher, R. J. (2013). Qualitative insights into faculty use of student support services with online students at risk: Implications for student retention. Journal of Educators Online, 10(1). Street, H. (2010). Factors influencing a learner’s decision to drop-out or persist in higher education distance learning. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 13(4).

Willging, P. A. & Johnson, S. D. (2009). Factors that influence students’ decision to dropout of online courses. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 8(4), 115-127.

Antonia Sly Nichols has worked at Nova Scotia Community College for over 10 years in Student Services and is presently an Institutional Research Analyst. Antonia can be reached at A previous version of this article was written in January 2013 as a research paper at the University of Calgary and was revised in January 2016 for Communiqué.

Revising the Role of Digital Communications in Student Affairs: Not a ‘Nice to Have’ Anymore by Michael Ferguson and Hamza Khan


ost of us working in Student Affairs would say that our primary audience is current students. But we would like to challenge that and say it’s an old way of thinking when considering your communications strategy.

Pre-internet, our only means of communicating with our current students was either in person, using printed materials, or through word of mouth. This physically limited our communication efforts internally to current students and gave us the mental boundary of whom our audience is. Additionally, our previous efforts were only reaching an already engaged student audience, who would’ve arguably found their way to us without the use of communications to begin with. What about the students on the periphery? How were we going to reach them? Then along came the Internet, opening up endless channels of communications and breaking space limitations to allow us to communicate outside our physical campus boundaries. When we send out our messages via our social media channels and websites, we are now building a digital presence of Student Affairs outside the campus walls. We are becoming a part of the daily lives of our students, who are spending increasingly upwards of twelve hours a day connected to the internet according to several studies. Because of this digital connection, we have the opportunity to speak to the full spectrum of students. Prospective, incoming, post-grad students, and alumni will all see our programming and services efforts through our digital communications. It

is a proven fact that prospective students use our corporate websites as their primary source of information about the institutions they are looking to attend. Second to learning about what programs are being offered, prospective students will explore what it’s like to be a current student on campus. Our marketing and promotion efforts have now evolved into communication strategies that have a broader set of eyes and that influence conversions and put bums in seats. If we were to truly take advantage of the communication efforts within our Student Affairs areas, we would see the importance they have in the strategic plans of our institutions. For example, if there has been an organizational goal to concentrate recruitment efforts to a specific region of the world, we could help support that effort by increasing our messages about international support and services while changing our social media campaigns to include that specific geographical location. Or maybe there is a new Faculty of Arts infrastructure renewal project for which Advancement has started a funding campaign. We could help that effort by building nostalgia through current student stories within the Arts community. Whether we see it or not, Student Affairs digital communications is now built into the fabric of our global institutional communication strategies and is no longer a “nice to have.” The current student voice carries the experience of choosing an institution, of participating as a student, and the hope for their future.

Current students are whom we engage with, but whom we influence has expanded and the digital communicators have become key contributors to the-long term success of our institutions. Join our conversation! Digital Communications in Higher Education Canada (DCHEC) is a CACUSS Community of Practice. Our goal is to advance digital communications in Student Affairs and beyond by introducing collaborative processes to capture existing knowledge and generate a dynamic resource that will help build insight into how we can continue to connect with our students. Learn more at Michael Ferguson is the Digital Communications Coordinator, Student Success & Engagement at Humber College. Hamza Khan is the Coordinator, Student Affairs Creative at Ryerson University. Both are Co-Leaders of the Digital Communications in Higher Education Canada (DCHEC) Community of Practice.


A Balancing Act: The Evolving Role of the Disability Service Professional by Boris Vukovic, Somei Tam, and Bruce Hamm


postsecondary disability service provider is like a torch juggler. We’ve all seen those balancing acts when a new torch is added just when the juggler gets a grasp on the torches they already have. And if they mishandle any of the torches, they get burned and then the whole juggling system falls apart. Possibly the juggler becomes engulfed in flames! We are no more the disability service providers of yesterday: the gatekeepers sleepily pushing a button to open the gate at the sight of a requisite document or the advocates pushing against the fences from the inside. We can no longer be just that. Or we will go up in flames.

For one, the fences are breaking down. But what are these fences we’ve been guarding or rattling since the inception of formal disability service offices (DSOs) in the late 80s and early 90s? It is the fences that surround academic accommodations, such as the extra time for exams, computers and software for exams, access to memory aids in exams, extensions on lab work, alternative assessments, notetaking services for lectures, etc. In the world of competitive higher education, these academic accommodations can make a difference. We know they certainly make a difference for students facing barriers due to disability. We also know they can make a difference for many other students facing barriers for reasons other than disability. At the same time, we are equally aware that all post-secondary students in a system premised on competitive merit and achievement cut-offs would likely benefit from such accommodations. Throw in financial grants for students with disabilities in a world of high-cost higher education, and the gated community of academic accommodations appears to promise academic success, or at least survival. And that is how the DSO fences got built. Because we couldn’t let everyone into our gated community, or so the story goes. We had to decide who gets access to academic accommodations in a high-stakes postsecondary setting. With legal mandates to 22 / COMMUNIQUÉ / TOME 17 / NUMÉRO 1 / HIVER 2016

accommodate persons with disabilities, we put up a sign: MUST HAVE DISABILITY TO ENTER. Documentation of a disability followed as the logical next step. With the exception of learning disability assessment reports – a topic for another time – DSOs developed forms intended for registered health care professionals to confirm disability and provide information on functional limitations. The information provided on these forms often consist of nothing more than a diagnostic statement. After all, a diagnosis is the sine qua non of the medical profession, while very few doctors can speak to possible functional limitations in an academic setting – limitations that can vary as a function of the nature of course requirements, program of study, or course load, not to mention the student’s changing needs over the course of a term. In other words, disability service providers are tasked with taking the (often elemental) disabilityrelated information they receive and figuring out what appropriate accommodations and supports to approve for each course, while ensuring the student meets essential academic requirements. Yes, that last part is pretty important. It is the law after all (i.e., Ontario Human Rights Code, section 17.1). In fact, the trust in the DSO to uphold academic standards while accommodating students with disabilities has been the cornerstone of the relationship between faculty and disability service providers. Back to crumbling fences. Recently there are calls for reduction of information provided to DSOs. The slippery slope begins with an argument that DSOs should not have access to the diagnostic statement – in spite of this information being handled by select, relevantly trained staff and in accordance with applicable privacy and confidentiality laws and internal policies. The reasoning is that information on functional limitations is enough. The problem is that such information must be provided and, as mentioned above, it often is not or is overly general. The diagnostic statement is an important source of information, albeit only one of a number of sources, including the student self-report. The more relevant information the disability service provider has, the more relevant the supports are that they provide. Not everyone apparently agrees. A lawyer in a recent settlement involving York University declared that student self-report alone should suffice. The obvious issues of reliability aside, such perceptions betray lack of awareness of the complexity of the work involved in determining appropriate accommodations that are not strictly disability-related, do not undermine academic standards, and satisfy the requirements of various stakeholders – all while working with 300+ caseloads or over 2000 students per DSO in our overcrowded gated community. Complexity, meet Expertise. Juggling all these torches clearly requires competence. A novice juggler runs the risk of burning oneself and setting fire to their surroundings. We need professionals to do this kind of work: professional torch jugglers, aka Disability Service Professionals, aka Accessibility Professionals. To get there, we must first establish a few things, parameters that define the boundaries of the profession through Standards of Practice. Such standards will help formalize existing best practices, bring consistency to our work, ensure transparency of our processes and decisions, promote quality of our services to students, and strengthen our professional identity. The CACUSS Community of Practice in Accessibility and Inclusion is taking important first steps in organizing the work on Standards of Practice for disability/accessibility service professionals. One key aspect of the Standards will be to help the disability service provider evolve from a traditional gatekeeper or advocate to the future-proof professional. The Standards can help reimagine the world of disability services and rethink the fences, not through entrenched defenses or fervent demolition, but in a way that makes sense for today and for tomorrow. The world outside the gated community of accommodations can be made more supportive and accessible, so the gated community is no longer viewed as the only choice. After all, if one has choices, being gated may not be the best choice. Learning environments that are accessible and reduce disability-related barriers are a very attractive choice. A student in an accessible world of post-secondary education learns and is evaluated alongside peers, yet still has

the option to stop by the gated community if necessary. Carrying the newly lit torch of universal design and accessibility in one hand while balancing the still brightly burning torch of accommodation in the other is becoming and should be one of the primary objectives in the work of the disability service providers and one of the most important principles in the Standards. Accessibility is not a magic bullet, and some of us will still need to congregate for group-specific supports, such as how students now talk about mental health in increasing numbers but also expect us to act in support. Programs such as Carleton University’s From Intention to Action (FITA) have for several years provided specialized services for students who are stressed and overwhelmed due to mental health problems, but without putting up fences. There is no requirement for diagnoses or formal documentation of a psychiatric disability, and it works. Students in the FITA program show significant improvements in grades and retention rates; in other words, it leads

to academic success. And FITA does it without the use of academic accommodations and without unnecessarily streaming students into the gated, albeit legitimate, community of accommodations and disability identification. No, the gatekeeping or fence rattling won’t do. Enter the torch juggler. Each torch has two ends. One end we can handle, and when we do a good job handling torches by their handles, they move together in elegant harmony. At the opposite end is the scalding flame. Each of the responsibilities we balance presents significant challenges, a potential to impair our work and affect quality of services for our students. So we need to be very good at what we do. Professional Standards is a way of ensuring we are. Boris Vukovic, Somei Tam, and Bruce Hamm work at the Paul Menton Centre at Carleton University. They can be reached at

Revising Links between Student Support Services and Academe: A For-Credit Mental Health Course for Students with Mental Health Challenges

development, course registration, teaching one of the seminars, and working individually with students as needed to support their success in the course. This research article provides a brief overview of the course along with the key results of the program evaluation conducted to examine its impacts for student participants. This novel collaboration between student services and traditional academe represents a potentially effective additional way to revise how University campuses might further support students with mental health challenges.

by Margaret N. Lumley and Bruno Mancini

Three central aims of the course were developed: increased mental health/illness knowledge and understanding, increased academic self-efficacy in the context of mental health challenges, and awareness/practice at skills for improving well-being. An alternate grading scheme of pass/fail was selected to minimize competition between students and maximize focus on the process of the learning. There were four major evaluative components: weekly mock exam questions, weekly assignments, an individual well-being and learning plan, and a mental health presentation/display. Distinguishing the course from a typical academic course, mental health advisors were integral to course development and support, revising the way the links between support services and academia have traditionally been conceptualized.


or youth experiencing mental health difficulties, challenges associated with adjusting to university may jeopardize academic achievement and fuel further psychological distress (Young & Calloway, 2015; National Alliance on Mental Illness [NAMI], 2012). Traditionally, student services play a supportive role for these students either through academic counseling, personal counseling, access to accommodations, or a myriad of other initiatives meant to support mental health on campus (e.g., peer supports, helplines, wellness centres). In an attempt to revise the relation between student support services and academia in a systemic response, a “Psychology 1400: Mental Health and Well-Being” for-credit course was developed in partnership with Student Accessibility Services (Bruno Mancini, MSW), Student Life (Dr. Brenda Whiteside), and the Department of Psychology (Dr. Margaret Lumley). This seminar-style psychology course with a maximum of 30 students was offered in Fall 2014 and Winter 2015. Mental health advisors working within the University of Guelph’s Student Accessibility Services played a central role in course

Course Overview

The overarching framework for the course was one of positive mental health, focused on the assets, strengths, and coping resources students naturally possess or might cultivate in service of their academic self-efficacy and general wellbeing. Corey Keyes’ (2002) Dual Continuum Model of mental health/illness was employed as an explanatory model for the course with a focus not only on student mental illness, but also their concurrent possibility of mental health. Martin Seligman’s PERMA model, highlighting several pathways to well-being including positive emotions, engagement, positive relationships, meaning and accomplishment, was a second guiding framework (Seligman, 2011). Different from a typical academic course and like group interventions, the class was meant to cultivate a sense of belongingness, de-stigmatization, and mutual positive encouragement and support. Similar to other academic courses, students were consistently provided with written and oral constructive feedback on their work, knew that work must be completed for a credit to be achieved, and there was an emphasis on psycho-education and evaluation of scholarly and research material. In essence there was an evaluative component.


Target Population and Demographics PSYC*1400 was aimed at students with an identified mental health concern registered with Student Accessibility Services. A total of 52 students completed the pilot version of this course. A total of 45 students agreed to participate in the program evaluation with ages ranging from 17-25, as well as two mature students. 29 students identified as female, 11 identified as male, and the remaining 5 students did not specify their gender. Of the students in the program evaluation, 46% were in first year, 96% reported having a DSM diagnosis with 90% having taken psychoactive medication and 35% being hospitalized for their mental health concern. Results Descriptive statistics for all study variables measured at the start and then at the end of the course are displayed in Table 1. There were several statistically significant positive differences in key targeted variables associated with medium effect sizes. Table 1: Means, standard deviations, and effect size of changes in student’s characteristics





9.79 1.29 3.72

13.29 3.36 9.35

3.68* 1.74* 1.99*


.74 .36 .40

Positive Schemas Self-efficacy Success Interpersonal Trust Worthiness Optimism

The questionnaires did provide a basis for standardized comparison of the group from the start to the end of the course. We also sought to understand more about individual students’ actual experiences of the course through their responses to open-ended questions related to general impressions, achievement of course goals, course structure, and course content. General Impressions: “Please keep offering it, especially to first-year students. I wish I had taken it then.” “Would take this course again in a heartbeat!”

1.74 .63 .46 1.27 1.27

4.05 3.65 3.03 2.47 2.05

2.15* .87 .76 2.52* 3.04*

.43 .17 .15 .51 .62

“This course was phenomenal”

.72 1.02 .68

1.74 1.52 1.77

2.06* 3.36* 1.92

.41 .67 .38

“Personally, I feel this course has influenced me in the most positive and helpful way. It has allowed me to put more focus on my own personal mental health, which has not generally been the most positive”

Stigma Alienation Discrimination Social Withdrawal Internalized Stigma

Students also reported experiencing a significant decrease in overall stigma from the start to the completion of the course, including decreased alienation, discrimination, social withdrawal, and internalized stigma. Improvement in these scores reflects the possibility that learning about mental health and well-being, particularly in the context of others’ stories and experiences, may have contributed to a decrease in self-stigma. The discussion-oriented nature of the course in which adaptive self-disclosure was consistently modeled may have validated student experience of mental illness and also enhanced their sense of belonging.

“I found the course to be both informative and practical”

Coping Strategies Instrumental Support Positive Reframing Humour

Reductions in Self-stigma

Qualitative Outcomes: Students’ Voices

Well Being Resilience Life Satisfaction Depression

significantly more instrumental support, positive reframing, and humor as means of coping. Perhaps by learning and practicing various strategies in class, students were able to generalize these to coping with daily stressors related to their mental health and their learning context.

.25 .14 .20 .17

.64 .34 .50 .37

1.92 2.06* 1.98 2.25*

.39 .42 .40 .46

Note. * indicates significant t-test at a significance level p < .05. Effect size was measured using Cohen’s d (Cohen, 1988). An effect size of d=.20-.49.9; d=.5079.9; > d=.80 represents a small, medium, and large effect size respectively.

Overall, students reported this course to be a positive and beneficial experience. Achievement of Course Goals: “This course made me feel more comfortable and it made my university experience more enjoyable. Especially since this is my first year, it made the transition more manageable.”

“It has helped me dig deeper and challenge my learned helplessness and find ways of coping and facing rather than avoiding. It has helped me become more self-compassionate.” “Provided me with new ways to manage my mental illness, maintain positive mental health, and helped me see a different way to view my mental illness. It has helped me learn to handle the difficulties I have been experiencing in university, academically and socially. I also feel it has impacted my self-reflection of this semester, and what I can do to improve aspects of my life.” Several students commented on specific course goals, including supporting the transition to university, improving coping skills, greater self-awareness, and better knowledge of available supports on campus. Course Structure:

Student Well-being, Self-Knowledge, Resources, and Coping Strategies Overall, students displayed a significant decrease in depressive symptomatology and increased self-reported resilience from the first to the last class. There were significant improvements in positive schemas of student self-efficacy, worthiness and optimism. Coping strategies also demonstrated improvement. Students reported using 24 / COMMUNIQUÉ / TOME 17 / NUMÉRO 1 / HIVER 2016

“I appreciated the smaller size of the class and seminar as it was less intimidating, particularly given my personal experiences with mental health.” “The fact that it isn’t graded relieves a lot of stress and anxiety and allows me to take in the content more effectively.”

“This took a lot of pressure off me. I was much more relaxed, I was able to absorb more info and what was relevant to me. I learned much more because I didn’t have to worry about irrelevant stuff I would be tested on what I learned and retained was relevant to me.” “Fabulous class interaction. Learned a lot from classmates – in class and through online questions.” “I was nervous about the “no mark” pass/fail option. However, this approach taught me more about how I learn (strengths/weaknesses) than any other university class.” Students generally felt that the structure of the course was effective in promoting learning. In particular, the pass/fail structure was noted to allow students to focus on deeper personal learning, rather than the achievement of a grade. Course Content: “The content discussed was very helpful and easily relatable to everyday life.” “Some of the projects really helped me understand myself, my needs and create more realistic goals. Projects also helped me recognize my strengths and taught me some cool, effective coping strategies.” “Especially benefited from first-hand experiences shared by class members which very much accentuated course material covered in lecture” “Enjoyed focus on positive mental health” Students reported the content of the course to be valuable, helpful, and relevant to their needs and experiences. In general, exploring the answers to open-ended questions revealed several themes reflecting the success of the program’s overarching goals. Salient themes included sense of belonging, stigma reduction, academic self-efficacy, personal development, and improved coping strategies.

experiences of course instructors and informal and formal feedback from students, their counsellors, and mental health advisors were fairly uniform in the success and benefit of the course that revised how student support services and academia might co-create an environment to support students with mental health challenges. Since the Fall 2014 and Winter 2015 offerings of the course on which this article is based, the CIYMH fund contributed further funding for a third offering in Winter 2016. Going forward, the University of Guelph has made a commitment to maintain the offering on a permanent basis with money allocated within the budget to do so. Acknowledgements We wish to acknowledge the Ministry of Training and College’s Mental Health Innovation Fund and the University of Guelph mental health advisors Wendy Walsh, Melissa Beacom, Susan Hahn, and Patty Marrow. We are grateful to the students in the course for their willingness to work on mental health and for taking the time to value the research component of this endeavour. A full course syllabus and other supportive materials can be secured from Dr. Margaret Lumley ( References Keyes, C. L. M. (2002). The mental health continuum: From languishing to flourishing in life. Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, 43(2), 207-222. National Alliance on Mental Illness [NAMI] (2012). College students speak: A survey report on mental health. Available from URL: Accessed 11 November 2015. Seligman, M. E. P. (2011). Flourish. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. Young, C. C., & Calloway, S. J. (2015). Transition planning for the college bound adolescent with a mental health disorder. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 30, 173-182.

Conclusions Despite a relatively small sample size, the effect sizes of the differences in several key indicators revealed meaningful and substantive positive changes in a whole host of factors related to mental illness, mental health, coping, and self-concept from the start to the completion of the course. Student comments reinforced these themes. Further research to investigate this type of initiative would benefit from further longitudinal evaluation to see whether these effects extend over a greater period of time and from similar data collected from a matched control group. Nonetheless, the

Margaret N. Lumley is an Associate Professor Department of Psychology at the University of Guelph and can be reached by email at Bruno Mancini was Director of Counselling and Accessibility Services at the University of Guelph and can be reached at


A New Vision of Transpacific Indigenous Connections by Kakwiranó:ron Cook


hé:kon, Bonjour, Hello! My name is Kakwiranó:ron Cook, and I am the Indigenous Outreach Administrator at McGill University. I am half Oglala Lakota and half Akwesasne Mohawk and happy to be living and working in Tioh’tia:ke (Montreal) where I am involved in raising the profile of Indigenous Affairs at the University. Recently I represented McGill University Indigenous Affairs at the 2015 Australia and New Zealand Student Services Association (ANZSSA) Conference, held in the traditional territory of the Mouheneenner People in present-day Hobart, Tasmania. I was proud to be among a small contingent of Canadians and Americans invited there to showcase our efforts and to meet with and learn from our ANZSSA counterparts. As the sole Indigenous North American presenter, it was tremendously valuable for me to network throughout the conference with ANZSSA folk who are involved in Indigenous initiatives at their respective institutions. Overall, we discovered that we face similar challenges but also identified similar trends and solutions in meeting those challenges. Most importantly we found an eager willingness to strategize and vision continually with each other into the future.

Another hugely significant addition this year was the hiring of McGill’s first-ever Indigenous tenure-track professor Dr. Allan Downey (Dakelh, Nak’azdli First Nation, British Columbia), who launched our new Indigenous Studies Program (Minor) last year. I also have it on good authority that another Indigenous champion will join McGill as a faculty member in the very near future. I also talked about our long-term recruitment strategy targeting Indigenous youth via the Eagle Spirit High Performance Academy (, which promotes staying the course of education through experiential learning opportunities and positioning Indigenous role models at invitational outreach events on campus. Our cycle of activities starts at our pow-wow every September and goes through the school year culminating in May with our premiere event, the Eagle Spirit High Performance Camp. This three-day camp for Indigenous youth aged 13 to 18 features an alternating blend of athletic and academic explorations in the areas of health sciences, STEM disciplines, law, and social work. We provide admissions information, faculty and program highlights, presentations and workshops, special speakers, and interaction with Indigenous students and alumni, as well as the McGill men’s lacrosse team. This next camp will be our tenth annual edition. On the recruitment side, I promote our certificate and degree programs and Indigenous student services at Montreal-area CEGEPs; Anglophone high schools in the Mohawk, Algonquian, and James Bay Cree territories of Quebec; and join up with fellow Indigenous recruiters from the Ontario-based Aboriginal Post-Secondary Information Program collective for additional community visits. Further across Canada, I represent McGill at Indspire’s Soaring: Indigenous Youth Career Conference, as well as Gathering Our Voices in British Columbia. In the USA, I set up at the national conferences of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society and National Indian Education Association. Beyond our Aboriginal Admissions Protocol, which is applicable to most undergraduate programs, we’re presently working on broadening this pathway for Indigenous learners to access bachelor programs. I was pleasantly surprised to see some of the responses by ANZSSA conference attendees on what we’ve been up to at McGill and what we’re aspiring to realize in the long term. It does feel like it has taken a while for some of our ideas to percolate and initiatives to, and we as an institution still have a long way to go to become more inclusive, representative, and accessible. Nonetheless, it is refreshing to see enthusiasm reflected back from both our Indigenous counterparts and allies in the ANZSSA network. Since the conference, some of us have continued our discussions via email and have set our intentions to meet again at future CACUSS and ANZSSA conferences and also at the triennial World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education (WiPCE) taking place in Toronto in July 2017.

In my conference presentation, “Journey through the evolving landscape for McGill’s Indigenous community,” I mapped out how Indigenization has been gaining momentum at McGill over the past two decades. Broadly speaking, this movement is being achieved through initiatives such as Indigenous community relationship-building and consultation, collaborations with various McGill units on creating and facilitating pipeline initiatives, developing content for Indigenous learners, targeted Indigenous student recruitment, ameliorating Indigenous student supports and programs, celebrating Indigenous awareness and achievement, and Indigenizing curricula. Some highlights I’m pleased to share include our slowly but steadily rising number of Indigenous students. At the start of this current schoolyear we welcomed over 80 Indigenous first-year students, our largest-ever incoming cohort. We presently have six Indigenous students at different stages in the Faculty of Medicine, also the most registered there in a given year. 26 / COMMUNIQUÉ / TOME 17 / NUMÉRO 1 / HIVER 2016

I’m quite thrilled about the relationship between CACUSS and ANZSSA, and I remain keen on the potential to continue sharing, learning, and helping each other through such exchanges between our countries. Kudos to the pioneers who saw value in establishing this connection and made it a reality. Many thanks to Jordi Austin, president of ANZSSA, and Ana Munro, both of the University of Sydney, for personally encouraging me to submit a proposal to present at conference. And many thanks to my supervisor André Costopoulos for his enthusiasm and support for me to go represent McGill University Indigenous Affairs there. Skennen/Peace, Kakwiranó:ron Cook Kakwiranó:ron Cook (Mohawk & Lakota) is McGill University’s Indigenous Outreach Administrator and can be reached at

You Had Me at “Zombie”: Career Planning in the Walking Dead Era by Cliff Robinson


he Holland Occupational Themes model of career development is the life work of John Holland, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University. The theory states that people, work, and educational programs can be divided into one of six categories, namely, Realistic (doers), Investigative (analyzers), Artistic (creators), Social (helpers), Enterprising (persuaders), and Conventional (organizers). For forty years, the model has been embraced by career counselling practitioners for its usefulness in matching our preferences to work and educational programs. These six themes have been found in the Strong Interest Inventory since 1974 and the US Department of Labor’s O-Net database since 1998. The Holland Model complements more modern theories such as John Krumboltz’s Planned Happenstance theory, which encourages us to seize upon opportunities, and Robert Pryor and Jim Bright’s Chaos Theory of Careers, which recommends that we learn how to manage unplanned life change. A career fit model like Holland can help us to find a focus among thousands of work options, while a non-fit model like the Chaos Theory of Careers can help us with career pathing. The Party The Party Exercise is a group activity used to generate a personalized Holland Code. It is a group career planning intervention in heavy circulation since first described in the 2004 edition of Richard Bolles’ What Colour is Your Parachute? The Party was used at Thompson Rivers University to deliver group career counselling for students for five years. The Party followed a set script: You have accepted an invite to a party. You show up and notice that there are six groups of people: the doers, thinkers, creators, helpers, persuaders, and organizers. You join the group that seems most like you. After some time, that group leaves to attend another party. You need to join your second choice. Sadly, after a time, that group leaves, and you join your third choice. Your three choices are your Holland Code, which can be used to generate different work ideas. After delivering the workshop to groups of prospective students for several years, it became increasingly obvious that a party was a badly flawed metaphor for youth. The party vehicle was loaded with connotations of substance use, struggles for acceptance by the cool kids, and the power and influence of social groupings. We were asking participants questions about identity (“Who are you?”), but this question was overshadowed by their own questions of acceptance (“Who do I need to be?”). It was clear that we needed to trade up to a new vehicle.

wondered what would happen if the Walking Dead collided with the Holland Party. What emerged was the epic Zombie Apocalypse Career Planning workshop that asked a ragged band of survivors (that is, workshop participants) to consider their contribution to the rebuild of society following a zombie pandemic. We hoped that this new and improved metaphor, the apocalyptic reboot of the world, would balance the concepts of freedom to explore interests with the responsibility to contribute to the rebuild of the world. The party was out and zombies were in. The Walking Dead-inspired career planning session has been delivered ten times in the last two years to groups of prospective students on campus. A script that sets up the activity, heavy with memes, went like this: Welcome to the Compound. I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that the recent zombie apocalypse has destroyed most of the world. The zombies were really mean and hungry, and many people have been eaten. Bieber was eaten. Taylor Swift was eaten. Kim and Kanye: eaten and eaten. So was one half of One Direction. A horde of zombies chased down Lady Gaga and tried to eat her but were scared off. I’m happy to report that she’s OK. Now for the good news. You were not eaten. You’re safe! All that running in PE class paid off. As you know, the first rule of surviving the zombie apocalypse is cardio, cardio, cardio. Back to the bad news. We need to rebuild the world. But first you need to figure out your contribution to the rebuild. That’s why we’re here. Around the room are six stations. Each is a type of work. The recruiters in each station all want you to work with them. Your job in the next 30 minutes is to figure out your three areas of contribution to the rebuilding of civilization. At the signal, please move to your area of greatest interest. After a couple of minutes, I’ll ask you to move to your second area. And then you’ll move to your third choice. We’ll use this information near the end of the workshop to help you think about work and school. When you arrive at the stations, the recruiter will ask you some questions: What draws you to this area? Are there specific careers you are curious about? What types of education programs are available? What can you be doing now to explore this field of interest? Did your PE teacher outrun the zombies? Two years ago, Daryl Dixon and The Walking Dead revitalized a fading career planning workshop. But nothing lasts forever – not even the undead. Career planning zombies need to make way for another metaphor, and it may be time to revise… and roll out the robots. Stay tuned for “Meet Your New Robotic Overlords: Career Planning in the Terminator; Robocop; I, Robot; Wall-E; and Google Self-Driving Car Era.” References Bolles, R. (2005). What Colour is Your Parachute? Berkeley, CA: 10 Speed Press Darabont, F. (2010). The Walking Dead [Television series]. New York, NY: AMC Gottfredson, G. (1999). John L. Holland’s contributions to vocational psychology: A review and evaluation. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 55, 15-40. Grutter, J. & Hammer, A. (2005). Strong Interest Inventory User’s Guide. Mountain View, CA: CCP. Krumboltz, J. (2008). The happenstance learning theory. Journal of Career Assessment, 17 (2), 135-154. Pryor, R., Amundson, N., & Bright, J. (2008). Probabilities and possibilities: The strategic counselling implications of the chaos theory of careers. The Career Development Quarterly, 56 (4), 309-318.

The Outbreak (The Party, Revised)

Cliff Robinson is a counsellor at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC and can be reached at

Meanwhile, far from the campus, Daryl Dixon has been battling zombies on The Walking Dead TV series for the past six seasons. My co-presenter and colleague

This article is based on a presentation delivered at the CACUSS 2015 Conference with Shyann Vosper. COMMUNIQUÉ / VOLUME 17 / ISSUE 1 / WINTER 2016 / 27

CACUSS Communities of Practice Want to learn more about CACUSS Communities of Practice and Networks? We are pleased to announce the following emerging communities! • Aboriginal Student Services Assembly (NASSA) • Academic Learning • Accessibility and Inclusion • Co-Curricular Record/Transcript • Community Engaged Learning • Digital Communications in Higher Education • Equity-Seeking Groups • Graduate & Second Entry Students • Integrated Academic and Professional Advising • International Educators

• • • • • • • • • • •

Leadership Educators Orientation, Transition, Retention Post-Secondary Counselling Campus Mental Health Research, Assessment, Evaluation Spirituality and Religious Pluralism Case Managers Student Conduct Student Health Student Peer Support Programs Students with Family Responsibilities

To learn more and sign up to get connected, go to the “Communities” tab at


The Head, Heart and Hands of Higher Education: Through the Lens of Student Transition by Lindy Garneau, Ashley Gerrits (Wall), Lindsay Morris, & Melanie Sedge


hen preparing students for global citizenship, we must provide opportunities for connection outside the classroom by engaging the head (academics), heart (self-development), and hands (experience) of every student. Our initiatives, developed through Trent University’s College system, emphasize support and guidance, particularly to those who are preparing to “transition out” of an undergraduate program. This article explores the initiatives we have employed at Trent University that focus on self-development, leadership, and networking opportunities with faculty and alumni. Trent University’s Peterborough campus is located 90 minutes northeast of downtown Toronto. We are primarily an undergraduate studies institution, with around 7,000 students, including 603 international students from more than 100 countries, and 308 self-identified Indigenous Students. Over 80% of Trent students on the Peterborough Campus are from outside the area. Clearly, with these demographics, developing community is extremely important to connect students effectively, and the Trent college system is an integral part of this, stemming from its initial founding in 1964. The first Trent President, Thomas B. Symons, spoke about the importance of the Colleges in his address at the Official Opening Ceremonies in October 1964: This philosophy of our University is also reflected in the decision that Trent should be a collegiate university – that is, that it should be made up of a number of smaller, sister colleges, which will be the fundamental units and chief features of Trent University. Every student and every faculty member at Trent will belong to one or another of these colleges. In this way, through the colleges, members of the University may be helped to preserve a sense of individual identity as the University grows larger, and to find richer personal associations and a greater measure of academic assistance than would otherwise be the case. Today the Colleges are thriving communities at Trent, with membership that includes students, staff, faculty, and alumni. A college is a community that supports the co-curricular learning experience of students through experiential learning opportunities, providing academic support services such as Academic Advising and Academic Skills, and creating collaborative programming with our academic departments. This past year, we created a number of core pan-college initiatives in response to the mandate of the Colleges. The Colleges use a holistic approach to support students in their academic and co-curricular success, their development of interpersonal skills, and their connection to community. We are aware of the ebbs and flows of the student life cycle, and some of the challenges involved in student transitions. Here are some of the collaborative initiatives we have created to support students through the various stages of transition they experience. These initiatives include the Life after Trent Networking Sessions, Enweying: An Event about Extraordinary Ideas, the

3-Minute Paper competition, and the Last Lecture. Life after Trent Networking Sessions Life after Trent is a series of networking sessions that provides current students the opportunity to meet and chat with alumni in an informal setting. The purpose of this event is to provide an opportunity for conversation about the transition from an undergraduate program to the work force or further education. In 2015, we split the event into two parts: one for Arts students and then another for students in the Sciences. Students are an integral part in the planning process for this event. Our planning team consists of four students and three staff members (representatives from Alumni Affairs and the Career Centre). At the request of students, the majority of alumni who join us are recent graduates who graduated within the past ten years. Alumni are excited and eager to discuss their personal experiences, share the variety of work and/or education experiences they have had since their time at Trent, and provide advice that they learned along the way. Many alumni attending have taken a path that they had not originally planned (or knew existed) but have found success in learning about how their Trent degree could help them along the way. Enweying: An Event about Extraordinary Ideas The word Enweying translates from Nishnaabemwin as “The way we speak together.” In the spirit of this, Enweying: An Event about Extraordinary Ideas highlights the research and interest areas of some of Trent University’s most outstanding Faculty. The event features ten faculty members from various departments across Trent who display exemplary teaching and who actively connect with students on a level beyond the classroom. Faculty are nominated and invited by students to participate in the event. Speakers are chosen from the list of nominations by a committee of students. In 15-minute segments, each Faculty member shares with the audience their extraordinary ideas about topics they are deeply passionate about, followed by a panel discussion. This event presents opportunities to spend time with faculty members outside of the classroom and lab, to ask questions, and to engage in collegial conversations. 3-Minute Paper Competition (3MP) The 3MP event was established in 2015 in partnership with the Academic Skills Centre. The event featured 12 presentations from undergraduate students communicating their research papers to a panel of judges inside the time limit of three minutes for a cash prize. It was the first time an event like this was open to undergraduate students and was modelled off the national graduate-level competition, 3 Minute Thesis. Trent’s founding president, Professor Tom Symons, awarded the cash prizes to the top paper from each college, as well as an overall winner. Trent University has spearheaded this competition, and we challenge you to implement the program on your campuses. Maybe then we can have inter-university competitions! The Last Lecture The Last Lecture is a wildly popular event at many institutions across North America, based on the well-known book by Randy Pausch. The approach to the event varies from school to school, but at the core, the event is about engaging students, faculty, and alumni as speakers. It provides an opportunity for the graduating class to have one “last lecture” together and is delivered by their most memorable faculty member. The graduating students have an opportunity to come together and reflect upon their experiences at Trent University, bringing closure to the time that they spent here and celebrating their many accomplishments both inside and outside of the classroom. It is a celebration of their journey at Trent University. It goes without saying that none of these initiatives would be possible without COMMUNIQUÉ / VOLUME 17 / ISSUE 1 / WINTER 2016 / 29

our student leaders, who are individuals with brilliant ideas and who are passionate about their Colleges. These student leaders make the choice to get involved with extra-curricular experiences outside their classroom, rounding out their holistic development at Trent. The relationship we have established with faculty and alumni is an integral part of the success of the College communities. Going forward, it is our intention to continue to strengthen these relationships, creating communities where everyone feels they are a part of the process. This relationship-building is possible when we bring together the head, heart, and hands of higher education.

community.” A promotional campaign within the residence encourages students to use Wellness Alert to self-report symptoms they are experiencing in order to keep themselves and their fellow students healthy. Students access the reporting tool by logging into a secure and confidential portal on the university’s website, or by texting a number on their smart phone. After consenting to share personal health information, they are guided through an easy-to-follow symptom screen that takes just a few minutes to complete. Students are currently screened for norovirus, influenza, and cold-like symptoms, but

Lindy Garneau is the Head of Peter Gzowski College, Ashley Gerrits (Wall) is the Head of Otonabee College, Lindsay Morris is Head of Lady Eaton College, and Melanie Sedge is the Head of Champlain College, all at Trent University. For their contact information and for more information on the Colleges, please visit

Residence Wellness Alert by Jason Cobb

Suspected norovirus outbreak affects dozens of students and closes campus cafeteria”

Headlines like this seem to say it all. However, according to Kevin Friese, Executive Director of University Wellness Services at the University of Alberta, they only tell part of the story. “In 2010, an outbreak of noro-like symptoms in one of our residences resulted in nearly 200 students becoming ill before the outbreak was stopped,” says Friese. “This one event cost us over ten thousand dollars in staff resources and supplies. That didn’t account for intangible costs like the effect on student academic performance or the potential impact on the university’s reputation.” According to Friese, universities face huge challenges in catching potential outbreaks before they gain momentum. “In student residence halls, germs and disease can spread like wildfire,” he says. “Every day students share bathrooms, kitchens, and study spaces. One or two cases of norovirus or influenza can easily spread and infect an entire floor or building very quickly. Our experience in 2010 showed us what can happen when an outbreak goes undetected even for a short time. As a result we decided to become more proactive in our approach to residence disease surveillance.” Enter Residence Wellness Alert, a symptom tracking and disease outbreak notification system developed by Ottawa-based TelASK Technologies. The University of Alberta started using Wellness Alert in its Lister Centre Residence in September of 2014. According to Friese, it’s already paying off. “Wellness Alert has already identified two separate occurrences of noro-like symptoms on separate floors before they could spread further. It also identified a third potential outbreak of flu-like symptoms that would have previously gone unnoticed but still impacted the health of the residence


the system can screen for a wide variety of diseases and even mental health issues. What’s In It for Students? The real-time data provided by Wellness Alert allows authorized staff (a few minutes per day) to see at a glance what symptoms students are reporting and where trends or hotspots are developing. “If the system detects a rapid escalation in the number of students reporting or a cluster of symptoms in a particular location, we receive automatic text and email alerts,” says Friese. “This instant feedback allows us to immediately implement prevention activities like enhanced cleaning, modified food services, or limited visitor policies. We can track the effect of these actions to see if they work, and if not, we can make further adjustments until we see the cases start to decline.” Friese says that there are other important benefits associated with Wellness Alert. “Using the system has definitely strengthened what was already a good working relationship between U of A Health and Wellness Services and our Residence Services” he says. “Now we have even more information available to us to ensure our students stay healthy. And if something happens, we’re ready for it. Parents can also be reassured that their students are being well taken care of while they’re away from home.” For more information about Residence Wellness Alert, visit A proud alumnus and believer in a well-rounded student experience at the U of A, Jason is Manager of Communications and Assessment with the Dean of Students. You can connect with Jason through email at and on Twitter @UofADoS.

Impacting a Campus Community When Students Step Up

boundaries, and gender and media issues. Adaptations to the Stepping Up program to suit university students included the addition of a module on sexual relationships and changing the communication and boundary module to one about bystander intervention. By including a module about sexual violence, the Stepping Up program broadened the original Making Waves mandate to include both the sexual assault that may occur in an intimate partner relationship and the sexual violence that may occur outside of an existing relationship.

by Patricia Kostouros, D. Gaye Warthe, & Catherine Carter-Snell


n post-secondary campuses across Canada, there is a movement to create policy and programs in response to sexual assault reports and disclosures. In the United States of America, sexual assault policies have been in place on post-secondary campuses for some time. Canada is only beginning to respond, with Ontario taking the lead by having legislated sexual assault policy for post-secondary campuses. While we as researchers are supportive of this move, we also see that a sexual assault policy alone may be too narrow. One of the challenges that is faced by those wishing to intervene and impact sexual assault on a post-secondary campus is the need to contextualize the problem. At Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, we have been delivering and researching a program on our campus that considers sexual assault and relationship violence. We thought it was important to think about programming and intervention more broadly since young adults between 15 and 24 years of age are at high risk for sexual assault (Johnson, 2006) and assaults are generally committed by someone they know (Banyard, Plante & Moynihan, 2004). The people who “know the victim are often the perpetrators of interpersonal violence such as sexual assault and domestic violence” (p.68). When looking for post-secondary campus programs and interventions, finding something that matched the reality was necessary, as opposed to a program or policy that silos one part of a broader issue. We believe that policies need to speak to dating and domestic and sexual violence, not sexual violence alone. Through previous research, Warthe, Kostouros, Carter-Snell and Tutty (2013) have established that there is a need on post-secondary campuses to respond to dating violence. Additionally, a recent study reported that four in five Canadian undergraduate women experience some form of dating violence (acttoendviolenceagainstwomen, n.d.). The 2013 National College Health Assessment completed across Canada on post-secondary campuses found that 7.9% of men and 17.8% of women reported being victims of stalking by a romantic partner and/or sexual partner or former partner. In addition, 17.2% of men and 31.5% of women disclosed being in an intimate (dating, romantic, or couple) relationship that was emotionally abusive, physically abusive, or sexually abusive (NCHA, 2013). When we have this kind of data it seems short-sighted to address one piece alone. Post-secondary campuses need programs and policies that are multi-pronged.

Since students on post-secondary campuses say they are more likely to approach a peer about a disclosure of violence, it was important that the Stepping Up program also have a bystander intervention focus. Bystander factors are vital in sexual violence prevention programs on post-secondary campuses (Banyard & Moynihan, 2011; Gidycz, Orchowski, Berkowitz, 2011). A bystander approach was found to be effective in creating change up to a year after a dating violence program (Moynihan et al, 2015). If peers have an understanding of the dynamics of dating violence and healthy versus unhealthy relationships, then they can make appropriate referrals for their friends. The Stepping Up program aims to target peer-to-peer contact on campus, both as participants and as peer facilitators. After participating in Stepping Up, peers can make appropriate referrals that will serve to reduce dating violence in people’s lives and increase violence prevention on their campuses. Building student capacity has the potential to influence the overall culture of the university environment regarding knowledge and beliefs about dating violence and awareness of community resources to address violence. The Stepping Up Model Stepping Up has two phases. The first phase is focused on peer facilitator development and the second phase is program delivery. In Phase One, the peer facilitators are recruited from the general university population through online advertisements and information sessions. The majority of peer facilitators came from programs with a focus in disciplines such as Social Work, Counselling, Nursing, Psychology, and Sociology. Recruitment is focused on ensuring there are diverse cultural and ethnic communities represented, and that there are enough facilitators to allow for attrition. In the months preceding the actual program weekend, the selected facilitators participate in a number of curriculum and activity development sessions. The facilitators work in conjunction with the faculty research team, community partners, and program staff to determine the content of each of the four modeuls: gender and media, healthy relationships, sexual relationships, and bystander intervention. Peer facilitators work with one or more content experts (faculty and/or community partners) to create activities that will support their learning objectives. These same content experts are present during the weekend to support the facilitators as needed. Time is allocated during the first phase to discuss module content with fellow peer facilitators and receive feedback on content and activities.

The Need for Programming Given our desire to impact the Mount Royal University campus more broadly, a peer-facilitated dating violence prevention program, Stepping Up, was developed and evaluated on our campus in Calgary. The effectiveness of the program demonstrated changes in students’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours related to healthy and unhealthy relationships (Warthe, Kostouros, Carter-Snell & Tutty, 2013). Another program, Making Waves, existed and addressed most of the key areas that we wished to include in Stepping Up. The Making Waves program, although developed for high school students, had evidence of effectiveness (Cameron et al., 2007). The Making Waves program included modules on healthy relationships, communications and

Phase Two includes the delivery of the modules over a full weekend with up to 60 student participants and subsequently assisting students in completing community awareness projects. The weekend includes a media presentation and group discussions on dating violence, peer facilitation of the four interactive modules, a discussion of gender roles and expectations, and planning for community prevention programs. Following the weekend, participants complete projects focused on violence prevention that are presented to the university community. The prevention projects are aimed at supporting attitude and behaviour change among participants and increasing awareness of resources in the community. The additional expectation of a community COMMUNIQUÉ / VOLUME 17 / ISSUE 1 / WINTER 2016 / 31

project helps students integrate and consolidate learning in addition to benefitting the larger community; participants completing the prevention projects are supported by program staff, peer facilitators, community partners, and the research team. Participants must have the prevention projects approved for content in order to be reimbursed for expenses associated with completion of the prevention project. The small amount of funding ensures the quality of the projects.

information and resources available through their agencies. Evaluation - Pre, Post, Follow-up (January to September) • Pre measures: Dating Relationship Scales (DRS); Knowledge, Attitudes, Behaviour, & Behavioural Intent (KABBI) Scale. • Immediate Post: KABBI, Program Evaluation


• Focus Groups within one month of prevention weekend with Peer Facilitators and participants

Advisory Group & Community Partners (Ongoing Involvement)

• 8 months post: KABBI

• Advisory Committee to include internal and external stakeholders, including the faculty research team, Peer Support Services, HomeFront, Calgary Sexual Health, Alberta Association of Sexual Assault Centres, Calgary Police Service, Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse, Calgary Counselling Centre. • Community partners support training and curriculum development and are recruited from the Advisory Committee. Recruit and Train Peer Facilitators (September to December)

Dissemination, Support Violence Prevention Initiatives, and Monitor Impact on the Campus Community • Dissemination of project to other post-secondary. • Support violence prevention initiatives, including resource information, website, training on responding to disclosures, Stephanson-Cooke Symposium, and Family Violence Prevention Month. • Environmental scan to monitor impact on the campus community.

• University-wide recruitment for Peer Facilitators. • Train for group facilitation, debriefing following disclosures, awareness of current issues and community resources (through community partners). • Peer Facilitators develop curriculum and plan activities for workshops. • Peer Facilitators involved in Family Violence Prevention Month events in November help recruit participants. Prevention Weekend (January) • Friday: Ice breakers, collage of media on relationship violence, small group discussion. • Saturday: Healthy Relationships, Gender & Media, Bystander Interventions, Sexual Relationships, Dating Do’s and Don’ts (Part I). • Sunday: Relationship Do’s and Don’ts (Part II), Planning for Prevention Projects

Prevention Projects (March/April) • Relationship violence prevention projects developed by participants are presented to the University community three months after the prevention weekend. • Members of the Advisory Committee are invited to share additional 32 / COMMUNIQUÉ / TOME 17 / NUMÉRO 1 / HIVER 2016

Program Results Data about the program and it effectiveness is gathered in two ways. Students who are weekend event participants complete a dating relationship scale, which provides information on what students are presently experiencing in relation to dating violence. We also ask students to complete the knowledge, attitude, behaviour and behavioural intent (KABBI) scale, which they complete before participating in the Stepping Up weekend event, immediately after, and approximately eight months later (Warthe et al, 2013). Results in the four iterations of this project indicated a significant and sustained change among those who participated, in some instances even becoming more positive over time. Year over year, our results consistently show the increase in knowledge, attitude, behaviour, and behavioural intent, as shown below from the most recent program.

In addition, we collect data from both weekend participants and peer facilitators in separate focus groups. The participants are able to share their lived experiences of having participated in the program and the peer facilitators provide vital information about the program design. When asked, “Overall, how would you rate the Stepping Up program?” 67% of participants rated it “Excellent,” 30% “Good,” and 3% “Unsure.” No participants rated the program “Poor” or “Very Poor.” Participants also made

statements such as: “Stepping Up gave me a voice with others for an issue I knew was important,” or “This is a great way to learn, and I can impact my campus now.” Each time we deliver this program we receive feedback that 100% of the participants would recommend this program to their peers.

Warthe, G., Kostouros, P., Carter-Snell, C., & Tutty (2013). Stepping Up: Reducing the impact of dating violence on postsecondary students. International Journal of Child Youth and Family Studies, 4(1), 100-188.

Peer facilitators have also provided feedback and each time we ask about program changes, we have received the same feedback, which is that the preparation is timeconsuming but worth the time. When asked about program changes, they say they appreciate that the program is grassroots, the content is modified based on what is relevant on campus for that particular peer group, and the discussions are meaningful. The peer facilitators of the Stepping Up program highlighted that change can happen for both those who participate and those who deliver programs. We feel encouraged that these young people take responsibility and care about their peers as well as their campus environment.

Dr. Patricia Kostouros (, Dr. D. Gaye Warthe (, and Dr. Catherine Carter-Snell ( are Associate Professors at Mount Royal University.

Considerations Some people have asked about the readiness of the peer facilitators to be delving into such deep topics with only a few weekends of program development. In our deliberations about potential program changes, we suggest that post-secondary students are already having these discussions and that a program liked Stepping Up allows those existing discussions to take place in an atmosphere with support, information about appropriate resources, and with community partners in attendance. Participants are highly engaged and verbal throughout the entire Stepping Up weekend and in their feedback; one highlight was being able to talk openly about their experiences in a non-judgmental setting.

Reviving Risk Assessment: Transforming Traditional Risk Assessment to Nurture the Whole Student by Alyssa Graham & Scott MacDonald


American College Health Association. (2013). American College Health AssociationNational College Health Assessment II: Canadian Reference Group Data Report Spring 2013. Hanover, MD: American College Health Association.

isk assessment of student-led initiatives is widely recognized as an important means of improving success and safety, while protecting the institution. The University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) has worked to transform the risk assessment process from a standard checklist of rules into an opportunity for campuswide collaboration and student development. UTSC students are actively involved throughout the risk assessment process, embodying Astin’s idea that “the amount of student learning/ development is directly proportional to the quality and quantity of involvement” (Astin 1993). In our risk assessment process, students are challenged to develop their critical thinking skills through proactive planning that mitigates risks, creates more inclusive events, and engages a whole campus through collaboration.

Banyard, V., Plante, E., & Maynihan, M. (2004). Bystander education: Bringing a broader community perspective to sexual violence prevention. Journal of Community Psychology, 23(1), 61-79. doi: 10.1002/jcop.10078

Demographics at UTSC

It is our hope that readers will consider the programs on their own campuses and question the scope of these programs in relation to dating and domestic violence – and not sexual violence alone. We have an opportunity, through programs such as Stepping Up, to inform students about dating and sexual violence using a grass roots approach that has the potential to change a campus environment. When students take ownership of these programs, they will impact their campus in ways that policies alone never could. We need to remember that students are only with us for a short time and have a context beyond our bricks and mortar. We need to be helping them with bystander intervention for a lifetime – to change their campus, their lives, and their communities. References Act to end violence against women (n.d.).

Banyard, V., & Moynihan, M. (2011). Variation in bystander behavior related to sexual and intimate partner violence prevention: Correlates in a sample of college students. Psychology of Violence, 1(4), 287-301. Cameron, C. A., Byers, S., Miller, S. A., McKay, S. L., St. Pierre, M., & Glenn, S. (2007). Violence prevention in New Brunswick. Fredericton: Status of Women Canada. Gidycz, C., Orchowski, L., & Berkowitz, A. (2011). Preventing sexual aggression among college men: An evaluation of a social norms and bystander intervention program. Violence Against Women, 17(6), 720-742. DOI: 10.1177/1077801211409727 Johnson, H. (2006). Measuring violence against women: Statistical trends 2006. Ottawa, Statistics Canada. Moynihan, M., Banyard, V., Cares, A., Potter, S., Williams, L., Stapleton, J. (2015). Encouraging responses in sexual and relationship violence prevention: What program effects remain 1 year later? Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 30(1),

“UTSC is located in one of the country’s most diverse and multicultural communities, and our student body reflects this. Many of our students are either first or second generation Canadians. They tend to live at home and commute relatively long distances to get to campus. Our students often work part-time or full-time, and have connections to multiple cultures, all of which have implications for their life at UTSC.” (UTSC Strategic Plan 2014) When it comes to risk assessment, it is important to understand students in the context of their broader lives beyond the classroom. Supporting students through the risk assessment process allows them to host events that they identify as meeting their needs and interests. Student organizations contribute in a variety of ways to the educational, intellectual, recreational, social, and cultural lives of the university community. Here are a few statistics relating to student organizations at UTSC: COMMUNIQUÉ / VOLUME 17 / ISSUE 1 / WINTER 2016 / 33

• There are over 225 recognized student groups, and the average number of members per group is 95. • Student organizations have held 1404 unique approved events in 2015, an average of over 25 student-led initiatives every week! • The winter semester alone sees five major student-led conferences, as well as four different religious-based week-long events. The UTSC Department of Student Life Risk Assessment Process The Risk Assessment Process at UTSC recognizes the benefits of having students actively involved in and critically thinking about their events. Opportunities for campus-wide collaborations and student development are encouraged and facilitated through the Department of Student Life (DSL). Initial Process • Student organizations submit event requests online to the DSL for all oncampus events. • DSL staff review the requests using an institutional risk matrix that assesses the risk based on various contributing factors. • Low-risk events are approved automatically. Medium-High risk events are invited for a one-on-one meeting with a DSL staff member. One-on-One Meeting • The one-on-one meetings provide an opportunity for DSL staff to meet in person with the student organizers and learn more about the event.

Students participating in risk assessment learn that many campus partners have a stake in the process and discover more about the people who are supporting their events and initiatives. This investment in students fosters a sense of belonging known to increase retention. Risk Assessment can play a pivotal role in student growth and development. By actively involving students in the process, we can help them foster a skill set that will benefit them in, throughout, and beyond the post-secondary environment. References Astin, A.W. (1993). What matters in College: Four Critical Years Revisited. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Module 4 Student Success Theories: Astin [Lecture Notes]. (2014). Retrieved from UTSC Strategic Plan. (2014). Retrieved May 11, 2015. Retrieved from http://www. Alyssa Graham is the Coordinator, First Year Programs at the University of Toronto Scarborough and can be reached at MacDonald is the Coordinator, Campus Life and Special Events (and soon-to-be Global Mobility Coordinator) at the University of Toronto Scarborough and can be reached at

• Student organizations work with DSL staff to plan the event and implement measures to mitigate risks; in the process, students are challenged to think critically and develop ways to make their event more inclusive. • DSL staff write a report of the event plan. which is shared with the Student organization and the Campus Risk Management Committee. Campus Risk Management Committee • The Campus Risk Management Committee’s members include representatives from various administrative departments and student organizations. • The Committee offers alternative perspectives and can request additional measures be implemented to mitigate risks. • DSL presents student events to the Committee on behalf of the organizations. Students are invited to attend the meetings to provide additional comments and learn about the procedure. Utilizing Astin’s Theory to Foster Development through Risk Assessment Astin’s Theory of College Persistence (1993) emphasizes that student involvement is key to student persistence and success in post-secondary. UTSC Department of Student Life leverages Astin’s theory in the following ways: • The amount of student learning/development is directly proportional to the quality and quantity of involvement. We strive to make risk assessment more than a checklist! By shifting the focus of risk assessment toward student development, we create an opportunity to engage students in critical thinking about purposeful programs, event planning, and – ultimately – risk. • The effectiveness of any educational practice is directly related to the capacity of that practice to increase involvement. Risk assessment is a way not only to increase student involvement, but also campus involvement. The involvement of our campus partners in the risk assessment process allows for alternative perspectives on student initiatives that go beyond the DSL’s scope. Campus partners’ involvement also helps keep those partners, who may not get as much face-to-face student time, invested in the whole campus community. 34 / COMMUNIQUÉ / TOME 17 / NUMÉRO 1 / HIVER 2016

Advising in Canada: Summary Survey Results by Tim Fricker, Heather Doyle, Shea Ellingham, & Darran Fernandez


he launch of the Communities was a wonderful milestone in the evolution of CACUSS. The launch of the “Integrated Academic and Professional Advising” Community of Practice was also unique, as it represents the first time academic, faculty, and professional advisors had a home within CACUSS. This article will provide an overview of the rationale and purpose of the Advising CoP and will share some results from a recent survey of advisors across the country, which to the knowledge of the authors, is the first of its kind in Canada. Some considerations for next steps within CACUSS and implications for the practice of advising in Canada will also be discussed. While there are a number of regional advising associations and a Canada Interest Group within the Global Community for Academic Advising (NACADA), there is no formal national voice for advising in Canada. The launch of the CACUSS Communities represents the best opportunity, at this time and place, to coordinate the practice of advising, which is increasingly being linked to student success and retention. In our experience, speaking with advising professionals from across the country, it has solidified the belief that there is a general lack of coordination and understanding

of advising on our campuses. We also believe, as indicated in the literature and from our respective experience, that advising is a natural (and important) bridge between academic departments and student affairs. Furthermore, there is very little Canadian information, research, and literature about advising. A CACUSS CoP could begin to fill in these gaps. With this in mind, the purpose of the Advising CoP is to bring together advising professionals from across a variety of roles, such as academic, career, learning support, admissions, financial, student life, and student success advising. While each of these areas may report through different divisions and may vary in the scope of their advising (from transactional processes, through developmental practices, and to counselling relationships), the core practice for all of these roles is founded on student development theory and student success. The broad definition is consistent with the definitions of academic advising found in the literature (Grites, 1979; Kuhn, 2008; Ontario Academic Advising Professions (OAAP), n.d.). Results The survey was crafted as a collaborative effort, with input from the CoP leadership team, and a number of colleagues from across the country. Many of the questions were modelled after questions found in Armstrong’s (2011) master’s thesis. The survey was open to advisors from across the country from September 17 through October 9 of 2015 and requests for responses were disseminated through a variety of listservs (CACUSS, NACADA Canada Interest Group, OAAP), as well as other professional avenues. 314 people started the survey, and only 121 completed the survey. Given the open nature of the survey and relatively low response rate, overall results cannot be split by sub-groups, such as college-versus-university or centralized-versus-decentralized. A few general observations can be made on individual questions where comparative sub-group results are noteworthy. The results below represent trends and are not generalizable across the country due to the low sample size. However, to our knowledge, these results are the first of their kind for advising in Canada and as a result serve as a great basis for reflection and discussion. There were a variety of institutions represented in the responses, with university staff identified as the majority (68%) of respondents and college staff representing 26%. Institutional sizes varied, with 46% of respondents from large institutions (>20k), 25% from medium institutions (10-20k), and 36% from small institutions (<10k). The titles of advisors who responded were incredibly diverse. The most commonly mentioned titles where academic advisor, student advisor, and student success advisor. Most (45%) indicated having a university degree and 38% had a master’s degree. 6% of respondents indicated having a doctorate, while 5% indicated less than a university degree or a postgraduate diploma. The vast majority had full-time permanent roles; 76% were staff, 21% were administrator/management roles, and only 2% were faculty members. The organization and delivery of advising was also diverse. Most advisors said they were supervised by a Manager; however, within the comments, 38 different titles were listed, ranging from Provost to Director. A list of 24 departments was provided that may offer advising services and all were noted to have advising roles. The top areas

indicated were Academic Programs/Division (80%), Career Services (65%), Disability Services (60%), Counselling (58%), International (56%), and Admissions (46%). When asked if their specific institution had a clear campus-wide strategy for advising, nearly 60% said “no” while another 15% were unsure. Similar responses were observed when asked about the publication of a mission for advising and whether there was a specific advising model. As would be expected when surveying mostly CACUSS members, about 50% reported that they are located and report within Student Services compared to 35% within an academic area and 15% other. Using King (2008) and Armstrong (2011) as a reference, respondents were asked to identify the organizational structure for advising at their institution. “Decentralized” was described as advising services provided by faculty/staff in a specific academic program or student services department. “Centralized” was defined as advising services provided by one central unit across many academic programs or student services departments. “Hybrid/Shared” was identified as the centralized coordination of advising services with advisors’ offices embedded within specific academic programs or student services departments. The results show an even split between decentralized and hybrid/shared models, with only 15% using a centralized structure. This was one area where universities and colleges were slightly different, with more colleges than universities indicating a centralized approach. Respondents noted that they primarily advise first-year students, with upper-year students and students at risk academically at second and third on the list, respectively. When asked what elements of advising are part of their role, over 40% indicated that all of the following are part of their portfolio: program selection/changes, enrollment/ registration, new student orientation, course selection, at-risk probation support, success programs and services, and graduation requirements. However, every item was identified as a part of the advising portfolio as least 18% of the time. Based on this result, we can summarize that, in Canada, most advising serves a broad, generalist function on our campuses. Another area worthy of discussion was around how advisors keep track of advising appointments, as well as structure around their notetaking practices. Respondents were asked how they track or log notes from advising meetings. Only 33% track in a campus-wide software program, while another 32% keep formal notes in a departmental file or database. 24% keep informal notes for their own files, and 11% were either unsure or said they did not keep formal notes. This result suggests room for improvement in the professional documentation of advising practice. Delivery methods are also diverse. While one-to-one advising is the most popular approach, group, online, phone, and e-mail advising are all prominent, which again shows a broad, generalist approach. Most meetings were fairly short, between 15 to 29 minutes. This was the second area where colleges and universities were quite different. University advisors tended to have longer meetings than college advisors. When asked about approaches to student outreach, e-mail was the most widely used, followed by workshops/presentations and social media. Caseloads varied across all sizes, with almost an even distribution across all areas: less than 250, 250-500, 500-750, and over 750. When asked for their assessment of


caseloads, 52% of advisors said too much, 42% said just right, and 6% said they had too few students. Advisors were also asked if their institution has undertaken any research, assessment, or evaluation of their advising services. Only 43% said yes, while 23% said no. The other 34% were unsure, which suggests either a gap in assessment or lack of knowledge if any has been completed. Finally, advisors were asked to identify the most important functions of the CACUSS CoP. From a list of about 15 options included in the initial proposal, the top five indicated were: professional and personal development, sharing knowledge, supporting networking, creating knowledge, and identifying trends and key initiatives that could become organizational priorities. It is our sincere hope that this survey and brief summary report starts to serve some of these purposes. Observations In conclusion, we have generated a summary list of broad observations about advisors and advising and some further discussion about the implications for the field of advising in Canada. 1. Advisors are generalists, supporting many departments and functions.

Secondly, the majority of respondents indicated that they were either unsure of, or institutions were not engaging in, any assessment or research activities. Similarly, respondents indicated that they did not employ any formal models/theories of advising or use any formalized process for keeping session notes. In order for advising to grow as a field and a discipline in Canada, we as advising professionals need to treat it as such. We need to be aware and knowledgeable in the theory that informs our practice. We need to have a clear understanding, be able to articulate fully our practice, and be clear about what approaches inform and influence the work that we do with students. We need to be up to date on best practices, informed on the literature, and be able to tie the work we do with students to retention and student success. This means being able to measure clearly both the cognitive and non-cognitive benefits students gain from visits with an advisor. How are we assessing (qualitatively and quantitatively) our work? Are you able to clearly articulate what informs your practice? How it ties into your institutional mission and vision? Our hope is that the Advising COP will help in beginning this conversation and strengthening both the field of advising in Canada as well the discipline of advising. We all work for academic institutions. It is important for us to engage in our own academic practices and ground our work in theory and research. We look forward to watching advising strengthen in Canada and to see all of the contributions you make to this endeavor.

2. Advising clearly has a place in both Academic Affairs and Student Services. 3. There are very few centralized structures and very few broad campus-wide strategies. 4. Supporting first-year students and students at risk are priorities. Program and course selection/schedules are a main focus (which is perhaps representative of prescriptive advising approaches). 5. There is no consistent approach (or clear standard) for session notes, software, or record keeping. 6. E-mail outreach, one-to-one advising, and 15-to-30-minute sessions are main service approaches. 7. Most caseloads are less than 500, while the majority are 750 or fewer. 8. There is virtually no research in Canada on advising. 9. There appears to be a role for CACUSS and a gap to fill in the knowledge and resources available for advisors across the country Implications for the Field As indicated above, this CoP survey cannot be generalized across colleges and universities in Canada due to the small sample size. However, it does allow us to begin the dialogue of advising in Canada, and allow us to consider how we want to be considered as both a field and a discipline. Through our work in the CoP and various conversations at national and international conferences, we have begun to see a trend. Advisors want to be heard in Canada, and they want the discipline of advising to be understood and valued at their institutions. The question is: how do we do this? The results of this survey provide us with information that on which we can base some broad assumptions. Most advising sessions were indicated as being less than 29 minutes. With this in mind, one can assume that much of the advising still being done is prescriptive in nature, that is, assisting students with course selection, answering technical questions such as how to drop a course, and discussing degree requirements (see: Crookston (1972), O’Banion (1972) and Kuhn, Gordon and Webber (2006) for foundational information about prescriptive and developmental advising.). As the literature tells us, advising that aims to assist students in their growth and development has the most impact on student success and retention. If this type of advising is not occurring, we need to consider the implications. How do we allow opportunity for growth, goal setting, and discovery to students for 29 minutes? How do we provide more developmental advising when caseloads are large and resources are becoming more limited?


References Armstrong, K. (2011). Academic advising, eh: A profile of undergraduate academic advising at Ontario universities. Faculty of Education, Brock University, St. Catharines, ON. Crookston, B. B. (1972). A developmental view of academic advising as teaching. Journal of College Student Personnel, 13, 12–17. Grites, T. J. (1979). Academic advising: Getting us through the eighties (AAHE-ERIC Higher Education Research Report No. 7). Washington, DC: American Association of Higher Education. King, M. C. (2008). Organization of academic advising services. In V. N. Gordon, W. R. Habley, T. J. Grites, & & Associates, Academic advising: a comprehensive handbook. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Kuhn, T. L., Gordon, V. N., & Webber, J. (2006). The advising and counselling continuum: triggers for referral. NACADA Journal, 26(1). Kuhn, T. L. (2008). Historical foundations of academic advising. In V. N. Gordon, W. R. Habley, T. J. Grites, & & Associates, Academic advising : a comprehensive handbook. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. O’Banion, T. (1972). An academic advising model. Junior College Journal, 42(6), 62–69. Ontario Academic Advising Professionals. (n.d.). Terms of Reference. Retrieved December 13, 2015, from Tim Fricker is the Director of Student Success Initiatives at Mohawk College and can be reached at and on Twitter @timfricker. Heather Doyle is the Senior Advisor, Student Success at Dalhousie University and can be reached at and on Twitter @heather_dmb. Shea Ellingham is the Manager of Academic Advising Services at Mount Royal University and can be reached at and on Twitter @sheabel. Darran Fernandez is the Associate Registrar and Director of the Student Support & Advising unit at UBC and can be reached at and on Twitter @darranfernandez.

UBC’s CampOUT!: Where Student Development Meets Summer Camp by C.J. Rowe and Anna White


ll of the Rubbermaid bins are stacked neatly at the end of the dock. It looks like everything is here. I sure hope we didn’t leave anything behind. It’s not like we can run to the corner store for anything we forgot to pack! – C.J. These thoughts run through my head as the volunteer team and I wait for our water taxi to dock. The twenty-five minute sail from North Vancouver will take us to a small island in the middle of the Salish Sea where we will set up our summer camp. I’ve been working in student development for the past ten years, and CampOUT! has been part of my portfolio since 2009. CampOUT! is an inclusive leadership summer camp for queer, trans, and allied youth aged 14 to 21 from British Columbia and the Yukon. It is an amazing camping experience, which provides youth with a break from home stressors as well as mentorship in an intergenerational community environment. Our programming focuses on educational, social, spiritual, health, and leadership tools. The goal is for campers to return to their home communities with new skills, capacities, resources, and friendships.

health and wellness of youth increases when they have strong support systems and feel connected (Russell, 2005; Saewyc, 2011). CampOUT! programming provides a space for youth to develop personal and interpersonal skills and support systems, and fosters resilient community development. Our intergenerational leadership team is key to fostering a sense of belonging. The leadership team’s diversity of age, race, identity, and lived experience creates an opportunity for youth to connect with role models and mentors. Through intergenerational community dialogue, we break down stereotypes about queer and trans communities that are reflected in the media. Together we brainstorm new strategies and intentions for expressing our diverse identities; this allows campers’ imaginations to be set free. When theory meets practice While most initiatives for queer, trans, and allied youth are urban, CampOUT! is an opportunity for these youth to have a safe and fun experience in the great outdoors. Building community in nature is an experience like no other, especially for youth who face barriers to getting outside of urban centres. The trust, honesty, humor, and openness that can be cultivated in a camping situation is empowering and inspiring. CampOUT! makes this type of community building possible for youth who may not feel safe or inspired to attend other queer and trans youth initiatives, or non-queer summer camps. We chose to base the camp on the Social Change Model of Leadership because it is a good fit. CampOUT values community building, equity, accessibility, inclusion, diversity, process, social change, and nontraditional leadership roles. CampOUT uses this model of leadership in several ways, including: • Developing Self: We create opportunities for participants to increase selfawareness, self-esteem, consent-based language usage, and interpersonal skills. • Collaboration: We facilitate opportunities to learn about each other’s differences in learning and leadership styles and life experiences as we work together with common purpose. The emphasis on group work is a container to explore collaborative processes and effect positive social change. • Reflection: We offer time for personal reflection, encourage deep listening, and build in evaluative feedback from campers. • Practice: We develop activities that encourage a welcoming, inclusive, and inspiring camping community.

The Beginnings Let us step back to give you a little background on the project. In 2009, UBC’s School of Population & Public Health endeavored to run a summer camp to engage with research on the experiences of sexual minority youth in British Columbia. Research findings supported the need for an outdoor camp experience centered on the unique needs of B.C. queer, trans, and allied youth – one that drew on the strengths of existing community members and organizations. UBC’s Student Development & Services agreed to house the project and it has been an excellent adventure ever since. Theoretical Grounding Grounded in the theoretical framework of the Social Change Model of Leadership (Komives & Wagner, 2009), CampOUT! strives to create positive and meaningful social change through addressing root problems faced by youth. Research shows that the

Working with CampOUT! and the Social Change Model of Leadership has reaffirmed the work we are doing on campus with student leaders. Many of us engage in these learning fabrics through weekend retreats that take place on campus or in summer camp-like settings or through weekly meetings with our student leadership teams. Through these opportunities we try to do more than train our student leaders to understand the core competencies needed for them to engage with their roles. The Social Change Model of Leadership gives us a framework to think about the root causes of social barriers. We work with this model to provide tools for students to see how their individual values are also connected to groups, how those groups can influence community, and how each of these three concentric circles are intertwined, overlap, and are ever evolving. Students who typically seek leadership opportunities engage with them because they would like to see change reflected in the world around them. Over the last 7 years, CampOUT has served over 500 youth around B.C. and the Yukon. We are excited to see the numbers of participants grow and continue to hear about and see the changes that they are having in their home communities and in the province of British Columbia. COMMUNIQUÉ / VOLUME 17 / ISSUE 1 / WINTER 2016 / 37

I find myself surrounded by amazing individuals: past campers, cabin leaders, and volunteers who are doing incredible work in our communities and educational institutions – many attributing their career advancements to their involvement with CampOUT! Once again, I am struck with the powerful impact that this project is having. Our research has shown that CampOUT youth and cabin leaders are more likely to participate in community organizations, seek different roles in youth organizations, seek different roles in university and high school based groups, and are more likely to apply for positions of responsibility because of their time at camp. We are seeing this in action! It continues to be an honour to be part of facilitating inclusive space for transformative community building, program creation, idea generation, identity exploration, and leadership development that is not only supporting participants but shifting the culture around us in positive ways! - Anna

management through a Carleton Innovation Forum grant to explore the concept of a centre or institute dedicated to Research, Education, Accessibility and Design. The READ Institute concept included academic program development in disability/ accessibility studies and an emphasis across all disciplines at Carleton on creating solutions to accessibility issues facing individuals with disabilities. That group organized a public forum in October 2011, where Carleton presented the READ concept to the community while recognizing the amazing contribution of Rick Hansen to the accessibility movement during the 25th Anniversary of his Man in Motion World Tour. David Fels’ sculpture, “Sailing Through Time,” was unveiled at the event in recognition of Rick’s contribution and Carleton’s ongoing commitment to accessibility. The flowing form of the sculpture inspired the stylized logo of the READ Initiative.

References Komives, S. R. & Wagner, W. (Eds.). (2009). Leadership for a better world: Understanding the social change model of leadership development (2nd Ed). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Russell, S. T. (2005). Beyond risk: Resilience in the lives of sexual minority youth. Journal of Lesbian and Gay Issues in Education, 2, 5–17. Saewyc, E. M. (2011). Research on adolescent sexual orientation: Development, health disparities, stigma, and resilience. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 21, 1, 256–272. C.J. Rowe is the Diversity Advisor, Student Development & Services at UBC and can be reached at Anna White is the CampOUT! Camp Director at UBC and can be reached at

This extraordinary sculpture was moved to its permanent home in Carleton’s River Building in June 2012 where the Hon. David Onley announced the creation of READ and accepted the role of Honorary Patron. The mission of Carleton’s READ Initiative is to highlight, celebrate, and cultivate Carleton’s expertise, leadership, and engagement with the community to create greater accessibility and a more inclusive world by: • Positioning Carleton University as a leader in accessibility research and design. • Supporting increased program emphasis in all faculties in areas of disability, universal design, accessibility, and inclusion. • Supporting research and solution-based projects on accessibility in all disciplines.

Fostering a “Culture of Accessibility” at Carleton University by Dean Mellway


he READ Initiative (Research, Education, Accessibility and Design) concept began at Carleton in the 1980’s when the first services for students with disabilities were initiated, leading to the creation of the Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities (PMC). With a growing population of students with disabilities attending university, issues of accessibility were abundant, and collaboration between the PMC and Carleton Science and Technology Centre led to the development of a number of individual accessibility solutions. The concept has been quietly continuing since that time. In 2011, a small group of Carleton faculty and staff received approval from senior 38 / COMMUNIQUÉ / TOME 17 / NUMÉRO 1 / HIVER 2016

• Engaging students and faculty at Carleton with people with disabilities and the broader community locally, nationally, and globally, offering interactive learning opportunities for students and support and solutions to the community. While READ is funded jointly by the Faculty of Engineering and Design and the Paul Menton Centre for Students with Disabilities, the Advisory Board includes representation from every Faculty at Carleton, as well as staff, student, and community representatives. Priorities are reviewed by the Advisory Board but are often driven by the internal and external disability community. Since inception in 2012, the READ Initiative has generated over 1.2 million dollars in programs and projects, including grants from foundations and research institutions, government grants, and gifts from corporate donors to benefit persons with disabilities locally and globally. Here are just a few of the READ project initiatives. CanUgan Initiative One of our greatest success stories is our relationship with CanUgan Disability Support, a small Canadian NGO that is supporting services and raising funds for mobility products produced locally for persons with disabilities in Kasese District, Uganda. Engaging CanUgan with our School of Industrial Design, Institute of African Studies, and Technology Science and Environment program, we have assisted CanUgan in the development of new and improved products, resulting in significant improvements

to the mobility and inclusion of persons with disabilities in one of the poorest regions in the world. Over the course of two academic years, and with financial support from the IDRC, we were able to send two separate groups of students to Kasese District and to develop new locally built accessibility products and develop an ongoing working relationship between the Carleton School of Industrial Design and two universities in Kampala, Uganda. 2014 International Summit on Accessibility The READ Initiative organized a series of meetings in 2012 involving key leaders in the Carleton community with the City of Ottawa, the Ontario Ministry responsible for the implementation of the Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), and the Rick Hansen Foundation to develop strategies to move both Carleton University and the City of Ottawa toward the barrier-free environment envisioned in the AODA legislation. The result of those discussions led to the hosting of the 2014 International Summit on Accessibility, the first conference of its kind, bringing leaders from around the world together with over 500 professionals in the field of accessibility. Parasport Initiative Every fall since the inception of READ, Carleton Athletics has hosed an event called “Walk and Roll,” allowing many of the Paralympic sport organizations in the Ottawa region to demonstrate their activities to Carleton students, both those with disabilities and others who may be interested in coaching or volunteering in the community. The event also serves as a fundraiser for the clubs, contributing over $50,000 to local programs over the past four years. Clubs raise their own pledges and take part in an accessible walk through Carleton campus as part of the full day event. Innovative Designs for Accessibility (IDeA) The Council of Ontario Universities in partnership with the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario introduced the IDeA Contest in 2012 to encourage undergraduate students from across the province to come up with innovative and cost-effective ideas to remove barriers for persons with disabilities. In the inaugural contest, four Carleton projects were selected as finalists and the top two prizes were won by Carleton students. In the second year, 18 of Ontario’s 21 universities submitted entries, and once again Carleton students led the way, placing five projects in the top nine finalists and capturing all the top three awards. Carleton students also placed two project in the top three in the past two years, again capturing first and demonstrating Carleton’s singular leadership in the field of accessibility. In 2015, two Carleton undergraduates, Brendan O’Brien from industrial design and Quayce Thomas from architecture, teamed up to win both first and second prize, including a win for Accent Line, a stylish aid that provides a hydraulic assist when standing or sitting, a very common issue for an aging population.

Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre (SJGRC) READ is part of an international effort led by the Hon. David Onley to support the revitalization of the SJGRC in Kingston Jamaica. The Centre, built in the 1950’s, has deteriorated from its once prominent position as the leading rehabilitation facility in the Caribbean. With support from the University of West Indies and a conglomerate of organizations in Canada, the US, and the UK, a comprehensive plan has been developed to rebuild and revitalize the facility. While progress on the revitalization is proceeding slowly, READ has been able to achieve positive side effects during the process including negotiation of a gift of 1500 Rollators, valued at over $600,000 CAD, now currently being distributed free of charge throughout Jamaica. READ also assembled a small team at the request of the Government of Jamaica to provide an accessibility audit of the Jamaican Parliament building, Gordon House. The team included architects from Quadrangle and a student from Carleton’s School of Architecture. READ Innovation Centre With a grant from the Audette Foundation, we have started the READ Innovation Centre, inviting members of the community to identify issues of accessibility and connecting them with students and professors to find solutions. This concept was the initial impetus for READ and promises to move the accessibility agenda forward one solution at a time. READ priorities will continue to be influenced by the voice of our students and the broader community of individuals and organizations concerned with accessibility, but the number one priority for READ is the issue of employment for persons with disabilities. Employment for persons with disabilities is widely recognized as the number one issue limiting access and inclusion for persons with disabilities. One of the first committees developed by READ was the Employment Issues Discussion Group, bringing together key players from across campus and the broader community to address this issue. Over the course of our first four years, pilot projects reaching over 500 students have been organized with government departments and private companies including Office of Disability Issues; the Public Service Commission; Health Canada; the Royal Bank of Canada; the Conference Board of Canada; and the many employers participating in EARN, the Employment Accessibility Resource Network, a community initiative of Ottawa’s United Way. READ is currently conducting an environmental scan of programs and best practices in employment preparation for student with disabilities in colleges and universities across Canada with a special emphasis on the working relationship between Disability Service Offices and Career Service Offices. Our hope is to present preliminary findings at CACUSS 2016 with a final report circulated at the beginning of the 2016-17 academic year. Dean Mellway is the Acting Director of the READ Initiative at Carleton University and can be reached at

WE WANT YOUR STORIES! To submit for the 2016-17 editions of Communiqué magazine, please check the submission guidelines on our website. Accent Line conceived by Quayce Thomas and Brendan O’Brien COMMUNIQUÉ / VOLUME 17 / ISSUE 1 / WINTER 2016 / 39

Early Bird Registration Closes: Monday, May 2 Registration Closes: Monday, June 13

Connect with #CACUSS16





CACUSS Winter 2015  
CACUSS Winter 2015