Page 1


A local’s tips for CACUSS 2015, P. 10!



For current and upcoming events, check out our calendar online!

This Year.... 8:30pm-9:30pm Tampa Marriot Waterside Hotel





Canadian Networking Reception, ACPA Conference, Tampa FL

Join members of the CACUSS Board and other Canadian friends for networking and light snacks.

Monday, March 16, 2015, 11:00 EST





Thrive Webinar Series, Thriving in College.


La justice restaurative, une utopie qui marche? Par Robert Cario Inscrivez-vous pour une discussion par téléconférence le 6 mars 2015 de 12h0013h00 HE, en composant 1-866-740-1260, code d’accès 9443183, avec invité spécial et auteur contributeur : Jean-Jacques Goulet

Canadian Networking Reception, NASPA Conference, New Orleans, LA 6:00pm-7:00pm

Hilton New Orleans Riverside, Compass Room


CACUSS 2016 June 19-22 Winnipeg, MB




Coming Up....

Join members of the CACUSS Board and other Canadian friends for networking and light snacks.

June 11-14 Otttawa, ON


Communiqué Volume 15, Issue 1, Winter 2015 / Tome 15, Numéro 1, Hiver 2015


President’s Message

Editor / Rédacteur Mitchell Miller,


Message du président

Design / Conception graphique Managing Matters Inc., 647-345-1116


Executive Director Update


Mise à jour de la directrice générale


Update: CACUSS Communities by Corinna Fitzgerald and Laurie Schnarr


Unique Programs at CACUSS 2015 by Lillian Lake


The Best Place on Earth: Get Ready for CACUSS 2015! by Darran Fernandez


Do Employers Value Co-Curricular Experiences? by Kimberly Elias


Mentorship Pilot Program at the Mount Allison Meighen Centre by Violet Sturgeon


Diversity in Action: Transforming Students from Passive to Active Witnesses on Campus by Hedda Hakvåg, CJ Rowe, and Peter Wanyenya


The Leader and His Broom by Frank Cappadocia


Trees & Transition by John Hannah & Deena Kara Shaffer


Our Trip to Boston by Samantha Hartlen and Sarah Memme


Building a Culture of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities at the University of Alberta: The Undergraduate Research Initiative by Crystal Snyder


Leading Leaders through Facilitation by Tesni Ellis


National Benchmarking Survey on Academic Accommodations Offered to Students with Mental Health Conditions by Stephanie Peccia, Anna Barrafato, and Gordon Dionne

CACUSS Board/Conseil ASEUCC David Newman, President, Janet Mee, Past-President, Marcelle Mullings, Finance Director, Jack Dobbs, Director / Professional Development Karen Cornies, Director / Professional Development, Corinna Fitzgerald, Director / Communities of Practice, Laurie Schnarr, Director / Communities of Practice, lschnarr@ Kelli MacCulloch, Director / Research and Recognition, Shawna Cunningham, Director / Policy, 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

t’s an exciting time to be working in student affairs and services in Canada. With an increasingly complex understanding of student experiences, learning, and development, much of our work is needed to help our institutions address issues and accomplish goals. The value of our broad and multi-faceted experiences and knowledge of our students is getting noticed and leveraged in new ways, presenting several opportunities to us. Indeed, we’re making a return (with some of our institutions already there) back to foundations of postsecondary education and development of the whole student. As I write this message, I’ve been reflecting on our collective endeavours within CACUSS and my own role at the University of Toronto. I recently participated in a panel discussion for a graduate class where we discussed student learning and development, career paths in postsecondary education, and current events and topics affecting colleges and universities across Canada. Similarly, these same current events have had an impact in my day-to-day work. At my home institution, much like at many other colleges and universities, we have introduced a mental health framework, conducted reviews around prevention and support of at-risk student behaviours, and engaged in more focus on holistic student learning and development. CACUSS, too, has been focused on these topics of national importance and relevance. It has been nearly two years since we launched the publication of Post-Secondary Student Mental Health: Guide to a Systemic Approach, and we continue to develop important projects and initiatives around this topic. We have also begun conversations around our role in being a national voice on a variety of topics including alcohol use and impact on our campuses, as well as responding to and supporting issues around sexual violence. These topics, along with examples of our continued work on advocacy and support around issues related to accessibility and Aboriginal student success, highlight only a snapshot of the various advocacy and programming interests that are emerging and have an impact on the work that we all do. I am brought back, yet again, to the theme of this May’s annual conference, “Whole Campus, Whole Student: Creating Healthy Communities,” which David Newman highlights that we are increasingly breaking down former silos, both at our colleges and universities and within CACUSS, with a new expectation that we all work together to create opportunities for and support student success. We have also seen a very positive response to the call for the creation of our communities within CACUSS. In this new model, members can participate in as many, or as few, conversations as they wish, allowing for both depth and breadth in our shared learning, programs, and initiatives. Once these Communities of Practice and Networks are established, I encourage you to grasp this opportunity, engage in your community(ies), contribute to defining the future profession of student affairs and services in Canada, and learn about something where you’ve had limited exposure. Your future will thank you! David can be reached at


Message du président


ous vivons actuellement à une époque où le travail dans le domaine des affaires et des services étudiants est très stimulant. Dans un contexte où il est de plus en plus difficile de comprendre les expériences, l’apprentissage et le perfectionnement des étudiants, la grande partie de notre travail consiste à aider les établissements à résoudre des problèmes et à atteindre des objectifs. La valeur de nos vastes expériences à plusieurs facettes et la connaissance de nos étudiants est remarquée et rehaussée grâce à de nouvelles approches qui nous offrent plusieurs possibilités. En fait, nous retournons à la base (certains de nos établissements y sont déjà) des études postsecondaires et du perfectionnement de l’étudiant complet. Au moment de rédiger ce message, je pense à nos initiatives collectives au sein de l’ASEUCC et à mon propre rôle à l’Université de Toronto. J’ai récemment participé à la discussion d’un groupe d’experts dans le cadre d’un cours du niveau supérieur. Les sujets étaient l’apprentissage et le perfectionnement des étudiants, les cheminements de carrière offerts par les études supérieures et les événements et les sujets actuels qui influent sur les collèges et les universités à l’échelle du Canada. De la même façon, ces mêmes événements ont eu une incidence sur mon travail quotidien. Dans mon établissement d’attache, un peu comme dans de nombreux autres collèges et universités, nous avons mis en place un cadre de la santé mentale et effectué des examens axés sur la prévention et le soutien des comportements des étudiants à risque. Nous nous sommes également concentrés davantage sur l’apprentissage et le perfectionnement globaux des étudiants. L’ASEUCC, elle aussi, s’est concentrée sur ces sujets de portée nationale. Cela fait près de deux ans que nous avons lancé la publication Post-Secondary Student Mental Health : Guide to a Systemic Approach, et nous continuons d’élaborer des initiatives et des projets importants axés sur ce sujet. En outre, nous avons entamé des discussions portant sur notre rôle à titre de porte-parole national à l’égard de divers sujets, comme la consommation d’alcool et son incidence sur nos campus, et la réaction aux problèmes liés à la violence sexuelle. Ces sujets, tout comme les exemples de notre travail constant rattaché à la défense des intérêts et de notre soutien des questions liées à l’accessibilité et au succès des étudiants autochtones, ne donnent qu’un instantané des divers intérêts qui émergent sur le plan de la défense des intérêts et des programmes, et qui ont une incidence sur le travail que nous faisons tous. Cela me ramène encore une fois au thème de la conférence annuelle du mois de mai, « Whole Campus, Whole Student: Creating Healthy Communities », qui met en évidence le fait que nous délaissons de plus en plus les anciens cloisonnements, tant dans nos collèges et universités qu’au sein de l’ASEUCC. Nous espérons maintenant travailler tous ensemble pour créer des possibilités et pour soutenir le succès des étudiants. Par ailleurs, l’appel à la création de nos communautés au sein de l’association a reçu un accueil très positif. Selon ce nouveau modèle, les membres peuvent participer au nombre de conversations qu’ils souhaitent, ce qui permet l’approfondissement et l’enrichissement de nos activités d’apprentissage, de nos initiatives et de nos programmes communs. Une fois ces communautés de pratique et ces réseaux établis, je vous encourage à saisir les occasions, à participer aux activités de votre ou vos communautés, à contribuer à la définition de la profession future associée aux affaires et aux services étudiants au Canada, et à apprendre quelque chose que vous connaissez peu. C’est votre avenir après tout! Vous pouvez communiquer avec David à l’adresse suivante :

Executive Director Update “Exploring Partnerships”


hen I think about the word “partnership,” I think, “working together”. I decided to write a bit about partnerships and their role within our association. CACUSS has had several formal and informal partnerships over the years, some with similar organizations, some event-related, some project-related. Some partnerships take the form of a “sponsorship” of a campus or regional event. As I thought about our strategic plan (available at current_projects_strat_plan.htm), I thought about the way that the idea of “partnership” is referred to in the plan. It isn’t explicit, but it is implicit in two areas: 1. Inclusive Membership: Increasing opportunities for interand intra-group participation within the field. 1. Advocacy and Influence: Expanding and nurturing relationships with external stakeholders, and identifying and building relationships with key higher education stakeholders. As I work on updating our operational plan for 2015, we will include partnerships more explicitly as a key way in which we will build our capacity to serve members, offer expanding member benefits, influence key issues in higher education in Canada, and ensure that we are at the tables where important issues are being discussed. I see partnering as a way in which we can expand Jennifer Hamilton our capacity to make a difference in the field of student affairs and offer more benefits to our members. The CACUSS Policy Committee has drafted and is reviewing a partnership policy that will further expand our capacity and the parameters related to where, when, and why we connect with other associations and agencies. The Professional Development committee is inventorying where we have current partnerships and is brainstorming future potential partnerships that can support the work of our members, build professional development opportunities, and meet our strategic objectives. Currently, we have the active partnerships briefly described here: • CERIC/Cannexus: CACUSS members get a discount to participate in the annual conference. • ACPA-College Student Educators International: Leadership/support of the Canadian Advisory Board for the ACPA conference to be held in Montreal in March 2016. CACUSS members will receive the ACPA member rate at both the 2015 and 2016 conference. • ANZSSA-Australia/New Zealand Student Services Association: Reciprocal complimentary conference registrations for association leadership. • Canadian Mental Health Association-BC: Memorandum of Understanding to support post-secondary student mental health working group. • CISAS-Canadian Institute on Student Affairs & Services (University of Manitoba/CHERD): CACUSS conference

registrants will receive $300 off the CISAS course registration in May 2015. • SAHEC-Student Affairs in Higher Education Consortium: A group of like-minded professional organizations that share reciprocal conference registrations for the Executive Director/President, and meet twice per year to discuss shared issues, support one another, and discuss current trends. • Campus Labs: As part of an ongoing relationship with our friends at Campus Labs, we use their Baseline platform for our evaluations and surveys. • Canadian Collaborative on Alcohol Harm Reduction: Supporting this initiative in various ways. Ideas for future (tentative) partnerships include: • Partnering with colleges: We have preliminary plans to support colleges in Ontario and beyond in their professional development efforts. • Canadian Conference on Student Leadership: We have had preliminary conversations with the leaders of this annual event about how we could partner to build member benefit, as well as connect with the student leaders involved. • OACUHO-Ontario Association of College & University Housing Officers: Potential partnership for our 2017 conference in Ottawa, Ontario. Our professional development committee and I would appreciate ideas you have for partnerships that would be beneficial in meeting the aforementioned objectives around inclusive membership, and advocacy and influence. Let us know your ideas for organizations, events, or businesses that would build a return on investment for CACUSS members! One area we need to explore and pay some attention is the potential for partnerships with corporate entities. We have had relative success in building strong exhibitor and sponsor relationships with our annual conference, but we need to expand this union to find ways to maximize these relationships throughout the year. Reflecting on partnerships also relates back to our recent organizational change, trying to re-envision our association as more holistic and inclusive, moving away from silos/divisions and moving towards collaborative communities of practice and inclusive networks. Similar partnering is happening on some of your campuses on issues such as responding to sexual violence, responses to behavioural issues, mental health, and universal design. Certainly our upcoming conference theme, “Whole Campus, Whole Student,” alludes to the partnership required of the entire campus to allow students to fully participate in higher education and be successful. Working together will make us stronger. Whether it is on your campus to support your students or within CACUSS to provide return on your association membership. Send me your thoughts and ideas! / @cacusstweets


Mise à jour de la directrice générale « Explorer les partenariats »


orsque je pense au mot « partenariat », je pense à « collaboration ». J’ai décidé d’écrire un court texte sur les partenariats et leur rôle au sein de notre association. L’ASEUCC a formé plusieurs partenariats formels et informels au fil des ans; certains sont formés avec des organismes semblables et certains sont formés dans le cadre d’événements ou de projets. Dans certains cas, ces partenariats prennent la forme du « parrainage » d’un événement régional ou organisé sur un campus.

Comme je pensais à notre plan stratégique (présenté à current_projects_strat_plan.htm), je me suis mis à penser à la façon dont on renvoie à l’idée de « partenariat » dans le plan. L’idée n’est pas implicite dans l’ensemble, mais l’est dans deux domaines : 1. Adhésion inclusive : Multiplier les possibilités de participation dans le domaine, tant au sein des groupes qu’entre les groupes. 2. Défense des intérêts et influence : Multiplier et entretenir les relations avec les intervenants externes, et établir des relations avec les principaux intervenants du secteur des études supérieures. Maintenant, je m’affaire à mettre à jour notre plan opérationnel de 2015. Dans ce plan, nous ferons état des partenariats plus explicitement comme moyen clé de renforcer notre capacité de servir les membres, d’offrir des avantages supplémentaires aux membres, d’influencer les principales questions liées aux études supérieures au Canada et de veiller à nous asseoir aux tables autour desquelles des sujets importants sont abordés. J’envisage le partenariat comme une façon de renforcer notre capacité, afin de changer les choses dans le domaine des affaires étudiantes et d’offrir plus d’avantages à nos membres. Le comité des politiques de l’ASEUCC a rédigé une politique sur les partenariats, qu’il révise actuellement. Cette politique renforcera notre capacité et multipliera les paramètres associés à l’endroit et au moment où nous interagissons avec d’autres associations et organismes, et la raison pour laquelle nous le faisons. Le comité de perfectionnement professionnel dresse actuellement l’inventaire de nos partenariats actuels, selon le domaine, et tient des séances de remue­méninges pour trouver les partenariats pouvant être formés dans l’avenir pour appuyer le travail de nos membres, offrir des possibilités de perfectionnement professionnel et atteindre nos objectifs stratégiques. Actuellement, nous tablons sur les partenariats actifs suivants, brièvement décrits ici : • CERIC/Cannexus : Les membres de l’ASEUCC bénéficient d’un rabais pour participer à la conférence annuelle. • ACPA-College Student Educators International : Leadership/Soutien du conseil consultatif canadien en prévision de la conférence d’ACPA, qui se déroulera à Montréal en mars 2016. Les membres de l’ASEUCC bénéficieront du tarif des membres de l’ACPA dans le cadre des conférences de 2015 et 2016. • ANZSSA-Australia/New Zealand Student Services Association : Inscriptions gratuites et réciproques aux conférences, pour le leadership d’association. • Association canadienne pour la santé mentale-C.­B. : Protocole permettant de soutenir le groupe de travail sur la santé mentale des étudiants du niveau postsecondaire. • CISAS-Canadian Institute on Student Affairs & Services 6 / COMMUNIQUÉ / TOME 15 / NUMÉRO 1 / WINTER 2015

(Université du Manitoba/CHERD) : Les personnes qui s’inscrivent à la conférence de l’ASEUCC recevront un rabais de 300 dollars pour leur inscription au cours du CISAS en mai 2015. • SAHEC-Student Affairs in Higher Education Consortium : Groupe d’organismes professionnels animés du même esprit qui partagent des inscriptions réciproques à des conférences à l’intention du directeur exécutif/président et qui se réunit deux fois par année pour discuter de questions communes, se soutenir mutuellement et aborder les tendances du moment. • Campus Labs : Dans le cadre de notre relation constante avec nos amis de Campus Labs, nous utilisons la plate­forme de référence de cet organisme pour effectuer nos évaluations et nos enquêtes. • Canadian Collaborative on Alcohol Harm Reduction : Soutien de cet organisme de diverses façons. Voici des idées de partenariats futurs (provisoires) : • Partenariats avec les collèges : Nous disposons de plans provisoires pour soutenir les initiatives de perfectionnement professionnel des collèges de l’Ontario et d’ailleurs. • Canadian Conference on Student Leadership : Nous avons tenu des discussions préliminaires avec les dirigeants de cet événement annuel relativement à la façon dont nous pouvons former un partenariat afin d’offrir des avantages aux membres et d’entrer en contact avec les dirigeants étudiants concernés. • OACUHO-Ontario Association of College & University Housing Officers : Partenariat potentiel en prévision de notre conférence de 2017 à Ottawa (Ontario). Les membres de notre comité de perfectionnement professionnel et moi­même aimerions connaître les idées de partenariat que vous avez et qui nous permettraient d’atteindre les objectifs susmentionnés liés à l’adhésion inclusive et à la défense des intérêts et l’influence. Donnez­ nous vos idées d’organisme, d’événement ou d’entreprise qui offrirait un rendement des investissements aux membres de l’ASEUCC! Un des domaines que nous devons explorer et auquel nous devons accorder une attention est le potentiel de former des partenariats avec des entités juridiques. Nous avons connu un succès relatif en établissant de solides relations avec des exposants et des commanditaires pour notre conférence annuelle, mais nous devons renforcer cette collaboration afin de trouver des moyens d’optimiser ces relations pendant toute l’année. La réflexion sur les partenariats est également associée à notre récent changement organisationnel, par lequel nous tentons d’imaginer une association qui serait plus générale et inclusive, de délaisser le cloisonnement/les divisions et de mettre en place des communautés de pratique coopératives et des réseaux inclusifs. Des partenariats semblables sont en œuvre sur certains de nos campus et permettent d’examiner des enjeux tels que la réaction à la violence sexuelle, la réaction aux problèmes comportementaux, la santé mentale et la conception universelle. Il est manifeste que le thème de notre prochaine conférence, « Whole Campus, Whole Student », fait allusion au partenariat requis sur l’ensemble du campus pour permettre aux étudiants de bénéficier pleinement des études supérieures et de connaître du succès. La collaboration nous rendra plus forts. Sur le campus, elle soutiendra vos étudiants, et au sein de l’ASEUCC, elle offrira un rendement aux membres de votre association. Transmettez-moi vos pistes de réflexion et vos idées! / @cacusstweets

CACUSS Communities of Practice and Networks Want to learn more about CACUSS Communities of Practice and Networks? Check out the Spring 2015 edition of Communique (in mailboxes and online in May) for a full launch of exciting new ways to learn and connect within CACUSS. In the meantime, we are pleased to announce the following emerging communities! • Aboriginal Student Services Assembly (NASSA)

• Orientation, Transition, Retention

• Academic Learning

• Post-Secondary Counselling

• Accessibility and Inclusion

• Post-Secondary Student Mental Health

• Co-Curricular Record

• Research, Assessment, Evaluation

• Digital Communications in Higher Education

• Spirituality and Religious Pluralism

• Equity-Seeking Groups

• Student Case Managers

• Experiential and Community Based Learning

• Student Conduct

• Housing/Residence Life

• Student Health

• Integrated Academic and Professional Advising

• Student Peer Support Programs

• International Educators

• Students with Family Responsibilities

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


Update: CACUSS Communities by Corinna Fitzgerald and Laurie Schnarr


ince CACUSS’s annual conference this past June, we have been having many discussions with interested folks about the process of forming community within CACUSS. We held several town hall meetings via conference call to engage interested members, had one-on-one discussions with some individuals and groups, and worked with the Board of Directors to define and frame the process going forward. We based much of our activities to date on the scholarly work of Étienne Wenger and the Community of Practice Design Guide (Cambridge, Kaplan and Suter, 2005).

support system to allow the communities to access funds to support their ongoing activities. The application process was launched in October and groups were invited to state their interest and outline their intended focus and goals for the year. We, Corinna Fitzgerald and Laurie Schnarr, along with CACUSS Executive Director Jennifer Hamilton, connected some groups that had a similar focus to facilitate collaboration, and we followed up with groups that did not send an application but had previously expressed interest. We were thrilled to receive 20 applications in total. Simultaneously, groups and individuals were encouraged to submit proposals for pre-conference workshops, to host sessions at the annual conference, to serve as members of ad hoc committees, and to apply for funding opportunities within CACUSS. In the coming months, we will continue to engage the emerging communities in their own forming, storming, and norming processes. We will also establish and convene the assembly of CACUSS communities and, together, identify next steps in the process of solidifying Terms of Reference and timelines for CACUSS’s new Communities of Practice and Networks.

The following definitions were adopted by the Board to guide in the development of an organizational model for CACUSS:

In many ways, this process is a classic case of doing while developing, and we are impressed with the willingness of our members to actively engage in this kind of process. While there is still much work to do, we are proud of our collective accomplishments to date and honoured to work with colleagues who share an explicit commitment to work collaboratively in developing and advancing the Canadian student affairs and services profession.

Community: There are a variety of affinity groups within CACUSS, such as Communities of Practice and Networks. Collectively all affinity groups shall be considered a community within the larger association of CACUSS.

To learn more about the process, the communities, and the resources in place to support them, please visit the CACUSS website at and click on the “Communities” tab.

Community of Practice (CoP): Provides an entry point to the Association for new professionals, facilitates professional networking and community for all members, and supports the vision and strategic goals of the Association. Specifically, a Community of Practice aims to: •

create and share knowledge,

support professional networking and connections,

foster and promote relevant research

design and deliver programs and resources that promote the professional and personal development of members,

identify issues that require advocacy, and/or

identify trends and key initiatives that could become new organizational priorities.

Network: Provides a less formal mechanism for members with common interests or roles to discuss shared concerns, challenges, and ideas. Networks may be based on regional differences/concerns, institutional roles, and emerging issues. Until the communities have had the opportunity to convene, consult further with members, and develop future activities, their designation as a Community of Practice or Network has yet to be determined. Each community will have opportunities to meet at the conference in May and more formal terms of reference will be available to the wider community. In the fall, the Board also drafted a naming protocol and application, and it established a process for creating communities. We established a funding 8 / COMMUNIQUÉ / TOME 15 / NUMÉRO 1 / WINTER 2015

Corinna Fitzgerald is the Director of Student Life Programs at Humber College and Laurie Schnarr is the Director of Student Life at the University of Guelph. They both serve as Directors on the CACUSS Board and can be reached, respectively, at and References Cambridge, D., Kaplan, S., & Suter, V. (2005). Community of practice design guide. Retrieved from:

Notice of Annual General Meeting Wednesday, May 27, 2015 l 12:00-2:00 pm Vancouver Convention Centre Agendas, meeting materials will be posted online in April.

Unique Programs at CACUSS 2015 by Lillian Lake


n the context of our collective and diverse postsecondary institutions, holistic health is paramount for the students, the staff, and the campus as a whole. We are all impacted by the health of our environments and the policies, processes, and programs contained therein. In the current landscape of decreasing budgets and increasing need for health support in all its diversity, it is imperative that every aspect of student services, in collaboration with all institutional departments, is heard and incorporated into a Whole Student health view. It is through that lens that maximum impact is accomplished in the development of the Whole Campus approach. The Program Development Subcommittee is proud to present three unique program offerings for CACUSS 2015: 60 Ideas in 90 Minutes, The Centre for Dialogue Discussion, and the Closing Panel. All offerings are tied to the conference theme of “Whole Campus, Whole Student: Creating Healthy Communities.” A cornerstone of healthy communities has to be centered on sharing institutional knowledge through dialogue. At their core, all three of these programs involve dialogue and the sharing of best practices – either through networking, facilitated dialogue, or engaging in educational discourse with a panel of experts in the field of healthy communities. In these programs, the subcommittee thought it very important to create unique outcomes for each offering.

for time in each session to network and connect with the facilitator(s) around topics of interest. In addition, at the halfway mark, participants will have an opportunity to stay in the room they are in or move to a different topic and room. Also based on feedback, this program offering will now be at the beginning of the conference to make it easier for delegates to engage, network, and create new connections for the remainder of their conference time! Degrees of Well-Being: The Roles of Well-Being in Higher Education The conversations continue at the Centre for Dialogue Discussion where participants will explore Degrees of Well-being: The role of well-being in higher education. To collect diverse educational views on this topic, the Program Committee is working on ensuring that all Communities of Practice are represented in the beautiful Wosk Centre for Dialogue in Simon Fraser University’s Asia Pacific Hall. The facilitated discussion in this unique, concentric circle set-up space will expand views of health from a systems perspective, taking into account the role of well-being in education, learning, ethic of care, core business of higher education, civic engagement, and preparing students to be engaged global citizens. Closing Panel on Healthy Campus Communities Finally, to round out the conversations, the conference will conclude with a moderated closing panel representing diverse perspectives on the question, “How do we create healthy communities?” The panel is designed to challenge our perspectives and expand our opportunities to enhance the collective student and staff experience on our diverse campus communities. Participants will leave this closing event energized with new ideas on how to create healthy campus communities at their respective institutions. We look forward to seeing you at CACUSS 2015 and hope these three unique programs will be just a few of the highlights of your conference experience! Lillian Lake is the Coordinator, Student Retention & Employment for Nova Scotia Community College’s Truro Campus and is the chair of the CACUSS 2015 Program Development Subcommittee. Lillian can be reached at

Get 60 new ideas! Building on the great success of 2014’s 90 Ideas in 90 Minutes and taking into consideration participant feedback, we’ve scaled back to 60 Ideas to allow

Membership Renewals Reminder: Your CACUSS membership expires on April 30, 2015. Go online, renew, and update your profile today! Note: Institutional members will coordinate their membership renewals through your institutional coordinator/contact. It is still important for you to keep your individual profile updated and current. COMMUNIQUÉ / VOLUME 15 / ISSUE 1 / WINTER 2015 / 9

The Best Place on Earth: Get Ready for CACUSS 2015!

atop Whistler Mountain via the glass-bottom (so you can see the snow-covered trees and bears!) PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola from and to Blackcomb Mountain is a popular option, especially if followed by a relaxing visit to the Scandinave Spa.

by Darran Fernandez


ritish Columbians are modest people, except when it comes to how much we love where we live. Our license plates share that love every day to locals and visitors across the province, proclaiming that the province is “The Best Place on Earth.” As you prepare to join us for the CACUSS 2015 conference in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia (BC), we wanted to ensure you knew what you could add to your conference experience – beyond the exceptional programming and people! This year’s conference will be held on the traditional unseated ancestral land of the Coast Salish peoples in downtown Vancouver and at Simon Fraser University’s Burnaby Campus. The history of the aboriginal peoples of British Columbia is grounded in our work in planning this conference and embedded throughout the day-to-day of what you’ll see at CACUSS 2015. Beyond what we will share at the conference, The Museum of Anthropology (, located on The University of British Columbia’s campus, chronicles historical artifacts and pieces of the Coast Salish peoples as well as other ethnographic pieces that you can check out during your time here.

Views from a winery in the Okanagan region

We appreciate that an extended trip may not be possible for all conference attendees, which is why we have embedded our beautiful home into all elements of your conference experience. We start with hotels that are steps from the water and the action of the city, where each morning you can join the early risers club for morning runs and visits along the seawall before the busyness of the conference day starts. During the conference, fresh, locally sourced food will be available throughout breaks and meals, so you will both see and taste what we have to offer! We’ll ensure you have a good mix of mind, body, and soul balance during your 2015 conference experience and fulfil the conference theme into your day-to-day.

Views from a winery in the Okanagan region

Views from a winery in the Okanagan region

While the conference is four days in length, taking full advantage of the weekend before and after to visit other parts of BC is a must! The Okanagan wine region will provide a true taste of BC fare, with award-winning wineries, restaurants, and bed and breakfasts. The sites are all just a bicycle ride apart from one another and the region makes for the perfect two- or three-day adventure! If you wish to remain closer to Vancouver, a day-trip option is Whistler, just a two-hour drive away, where the mountain venues of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games can be found. Take a try at the skeleton track, or find a friend and luge instead. If a more leisurely visit is what you would prefer, a trip 10 / COMMUNIQUÉ / TOME 15 / NUMÉRO 1 / WINTER 2015

CACUSS 2015 will have exceptional programming from our delegates sandwiched in between two passionate and engaging keynotes. Take the opportunity to further sandwich your conference experience and learn why we refer to BC as “The Best Place on Earth.” See you in May! Darran Fernandez is the Associate Registrar & Director of Student Support & Advising in Enrolment Services at The University of British Columbia’s Vancouver Campus and is the chair of the 2015 Program Committee. Darran can be reached at or through Twitter @darranfernandez.

Do Employers Value Co-Curricular Experiences? by Kimberly Elias


here’s a popular program in town, and it is called the Co-Curricular Record (CCR). While Co-Curricular Recognition Programs have existed in some form or another for decades, such as Student Development Transcripts in the 1980s, the modern CCR has only recently received mass uptake across Canadian institutions. To date, there are over 60 institutions in Canada that have launched a Co-Curricular Recognition Program or are in the process of developing one. The CCR is intended to help students find, track, and articulate co-curricular experiences and core skills, which are then captured on an official, validated record. These programs not only recognize the value of co-curricular experiences in influencing student development but have also been marketed as a tool that can be used in the hiring process, for graduate and professional programs, and for awards/ scholarships. The marketing of these programs have assumed in part that employers currently value cocurricular experiences in the hiring process, but does research support these claims? Not really, but it is not all bad news. Studies and surveys have shown that employers look for a range of core skills including leadership, communication, teamwork, social intelligence, problem-solving, and work ethic (National Association of Colleges and Employers, 2008; Peter D. Hart Research Associates Inc., 2006; Canadian Council of Chief Executives, 2014). For my master’s thesis, I surveyed employers from the University of Toronto Career Centre database to explore employer perceptions of co-curricular engagement and the Co-Curricular Record in the hiring process. From 110 responses, the top three skills that respondents selected were communication, professionalism, and teamwork. In the study, respondents were asked, “How important are the following factors when reviewing candidate materials in the hiring process?” While 49% of employers noted “very important” or “important” for extracurricular

participation1, it was ranked fifth out of seven factors, behind previous work experience, references’ feedback, educational degree, and academic subject focus. This finding suggests that employers do not necessarily view extracurricular participation as a primary indicator of the core skills they look for when hiring students and recent graduates. It may be, though, that employers are not fully aware of what occurs in co-curricular opportunities, the level of responsibility, and the concrete experience that can occur through these opportunities. Therefore, it is up to the candidate to demonstrate the possession of these skills. When asked to rate students’ and/or recent graduates’ ability to describe the competencies and skills developed outside the classroom, 4% of employers indicated “excellent,” 35% indicated “very good,” 49% indicated “satisfactory,” and 12% selected “needs improvement.” This data highlights that not all students are effectively articulating the skills that they have developed and possess, and there is room for improvement. The formal recognition of co-curricular experiences has only recently happened at the institutional level, and there has been little education to employers about what co-curricular experiences are and how they develop the core skills that employers are looking for. If a student is a president of a campus organization, we know that there is valuable learning in that experience. However, if a student cannot effectively articulate the core skills that they developed, and an employer does not know what the position entails, than the value is lost in the process. The CCR can act as a translation tool, where it can help students identify and articulate the skills that they developed, while demonstrating to employers that co-curricular experiences can be an indicator for desirable core skills. The rhetoric in the media has focused on the jobs skills gap where we see headlines such as, “Skills shortage top concern, employers say” (Flavelle, 2014). However, I argue that it may be a lack of articulation of skills, rather than a true gap. The CCR can help counter this narrative and highlight that universities and colleges offer a wealth of opportunities that help students develop desirable core skills including communication, professionalism, and teamwork. The CCR signals to employers the value of these experiences; as the uptake increases across the country, this growth only strengthens the argument. What Do Employers Think about the Co-Curricular Record? Halfway through the survey, employers were provided with a definition of co-curricular activities and an overview and sample of a Co-Curricular Record. When asked, “How likely are you to review a student and/or recent graduate’s CCR in the hiring process?”, 77% of respondents noted that they are “very likely” or “likely” to review a CCR if it is attached to an application, and 73% noted “very likely” or “likely” if the CCR were brought to an interview. These findings support those of Bryan, Mann, Nelson & North (1981), who found that 71% of employers indicated they “would definitely want” or “would prefer to have” a co-curricular transcript included in the job application. While many employers may not currently value co-curricular experiences in the hiring process, there is potential. In this study, we see a shift in the level of importance respondents place on extracurricular participation (49%) versus how likely they are to review a CCR in the hiring process (73-77%). Between these two questions, there was a description about the CCR, which also defined “extra-/co-curricular” and acknowledged that there are core skills embedded in these opportunities.

In the survey, “extracurricular” was first used since that is the more common language used in literature and surveys with employers. After a definition of “co-curricular” was given, the remainder of


the survey used this term. COMMUNIQUÉ / VOLUME 15 / ISSUE 1 / WINTER 2015 / 11

Co-Curricular Record Summit “Dotmocracy” Activity (May 2014)

While there is potential, there is still a need to develop standards and a cohesive communication strategy. There is significant variation across institutions in the criteria, validation processes, and document, which can cause more confusion than clarity. If we want Co-Curricular Recognition Programs to be used in the hiring process, then guiding principles and standards need to be developed and implemented across Canadian institutions. A Professional Network formed in 2012 to open lines of communication across institutions, and the First National Co-Curricular Record/Transcript Summit brought together 63 professionals from 40 universities and colleges to share best practices and discuss the future of the CCR/T program in Canada. Through a “dotmocracy” exercise, professionals voted in favour of developing standards for the eligibility of activities, validation process, competencies/ learning outcomes, CCR document format, and communications strategy. Moving forward, we need professionals across Canada to join the conversation and to help drive the CCR movement forward in a coordinated effort. So, what are you waiting for? Join the movement. Kimberly Elias is the Coordinator, Campus Involvement at the University of Toronto and has been involved in developing the Co-Curricular Record at U of T and the Professional Network. To join the conversation, or to receive more results from the “Employer Perceptions of Co-Curricular Engagement and the Co-Curricular Record” master’s thesis, email kimberly.elias@ 12 / COMMUNIQUÉ / TOME 15 / NUMÉRO 1 / WINTER 2015

References Bryan, W.A., Mann, G.T., Nelson, R.B. & North, R. A. (1981). The CoCurricular Transcript: What Do Employers Think? A National Survey. NASPA Journal, 19(1), p.29-36. Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE). (2014, January). Preliminary survey report: the skills needs of major Canadian employers. Retrieved from Elias, K. (2014). Employer Perceptions of Co-Curricular Engagement and the Co-Curricular Record in the Hiring Process. Unpublished master’s thesis, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. Flavelle, D. (2014, Jan. 21). Skills shortage top concern, employers say. The Toronto Star. Retrieved from business/2014/01/21/ skills_shortage_top_concern_employers_say.html. National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). (2008). Experiential Education Survey. Retrieved from Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc. (on behalf of The Association of American Colleges and Universities). (2006, December 28). How should colleges prepare students to succeed in today’s global economy? Retrieved from pdf

Mentorship Pilot Program at the Mount Allison Meighen Centre by Violet Sturgeon


he Meighen Centre for Learning Assistance and Research at Mount Allison University started its first Mentorship Program this year. This program sought to pair incoming students with disabilities with upperclassmen who had experience with the Meighen Centre. Mentorship was offered to all first-year students with 13 students being paired with 11 upperclassmen. These pairings were made early in the year based on personality, size of hometown, mutual interests, and program of study. Once these matchups were made, a literature review of other mentorship programs was conducted.

Previous mentorship programs highlighted the need for mentees and mentors to have a say in whom they are paired with as this has been shown to be the best way to encourage participation among members (Allen, Eby, & Lentz, 2006). This same article described a lack of research on how mentors feel about being part of a mentorship program. One of the goals of the Meighen Centre Mentorship Program this year is to get that missing perspective from the mentors. At the beginning of the year we asked the mentors a series of questions about their level of comfort with becoming a mentor. When asked why they became mentors, the most common responses were to help others and to pay it forward. Some other popular reasons for becoming a mentor were getting volunteer experience, improving their résumé, and feeling they had skills to offer to others. When asked if they felt they understood what was expected of them, the mentors reported a high level of confidence in their understanding of these expectations. Even more encouraging is that when asked if they felt comfortable asking Meighen Centre staff questions about mentoring, the answer was a unanimous “Definitely.” Mentors reported a high level of confidence towards their ability to mentor a first-year university student and felt they understood the difference between a friend and a mentor. Allen et al. (2006) found that one way to keep mentorship programs successful is to explain at the beginning what exactly is expected of the mentors and what we hope to get from the program. Mentors in this program came in for a short training session outlining what was expected from them, what they could expect from their students, and the role of the mentorship coordinator. Previous mentorship research has shown that mentors and mentees do not always agree on how well the sessions are going (Allen et al., 2006). In an

effort to alleviate this discrepancy, check-ins are conducted with mentors and mentees on alternating weekly schedules. At the start of the mentorship program we asked first-year students (potential mentees) to complete a questionnaire to measure how they felt they were adjusting to Mount Allison University, with the questionnaire achieving a 35% response rate. The average age of mentees was 18.75 with a range of 18 to 21. 88% of respondents lived on campus. While some questions were left open-ended, many of the questions were presented in a fixed answer format to determine how students were doing and how we could be helping each student adjust as an individual to the university environment. We presented the mentee students with a list of what we thought they were looking for from a mentor. Of the seven options given, the most common responses were “someone to meet with for coffee and conversation,” “an upperclassmen friend,” “someone to explain the Meighen Centre to me,” and “life advice”. Students were asked on a Likert scale measuring from 1 (always) to 6 (never) a series of questions regarding their adjustment to university life. When asked how well they felt they were adjusting to being away from home, the majority of respondents stated that most of the time they felt they were adjusting well. Respondents expressed a high level of comfortability at the Meighen Centre and that they understood what services were available through the Centre most of the time. It makes sense then that students also reported a high level of confidence in their ability to use the assistive technology at the Centre. There was a wide variety of responses to how well students felt they were staying on top of their readings. The responses overall indicated that students generally felt they were staying on top of their readings. We were pleased to find that students reported almost always feeling that they had made strong friends already during their stay at Mount Allison. 71% of students also reported that sometimes they felt overwhelmed by the workload at university. While this high a number was expected, it was encouraging to see that 86% of students reported that they felt they had someone they could turn to at school if they were struggling emotionally. Students appeared slightly less confident in their ability to talk to someone if they were struggling academically, with only 57% of respondents feeling that they had someone they could turn to for academic advice. Students reported that they generally felt they were self-disciplined. While there was a wide range of responses when asked how adjusting to university has lived up to their expectations, the majority of students reported that adjusting was a little easier than they had expected. Reports are being gathered biweekly to see how students involved in the mentorship program feel that the match-ups are going. In the winter half of the mentorship program as well as in future years, it is my hope that we can find first-year students who actively want to be mentored and pair them with mentors who are able to meet with their mentee on a regular basis. An end-ofsemester survey has been sent out to see how first-year students feel now that the semester is drawing to a close. The responses we have received so far show that the mentorship program has been helpful for students who met regularly with their mentor. At the end of the survey, students were asked what their goals are for next term as well to name highlights of this semester. The responses to these questions have been encouraging, and the Meighen Centre will be doing all we can to help students who use our services to reach these goals. Violet Sturgeon is the Mentorship Coordinator for the Meighen Centre at Mount Allison University and can be reached at COMMUNIQUÉ / VOLUME 15 / ISSUE 1 / WINTER 2015 / 13

References & Helpful Resources Allen, T. D., Eby, L. T., & Lentz, E. (2006). Mentorship behaviors and mentorship quality associated with formal mentoring programs: closing the gap between research and practice. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91 (3). 576-578. DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.91.3.567 Chao, G. T. (2009). Formal mentoring: lessons learned from past practice. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 40 (3). 314-320. DOI: 10.1037/a0012658 Daughtry, D., Gibson, J., & Abels, A. (2009). Mentoring students and professionals with disabilities. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 40 (2). 201-205. DOI: 10.1037/a0012400201

Drotar, D. (2013). Lessons learned from a career in clinical research: implications for mentoring and career development. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 44 (6). 384-390. DOI: 10.1037/ a0035228 Rhodes, J., Liang, B., & Spencer, R. (2009). First do no harm: ethical principles for youth mentoring relationships. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 40 (5). 452-458 DOI: 10.1037/a0015073452 Simon Fraser University (2014). Well-Being in Learning Environments. Available at WLE.html


We are pleased to announce our Keynote Speakers for CACUSS 2015! Dr. Evan Adams: “Healthy Systems, Healthy Selves” We are pleased to welcome Evan Tlesla II Adams, a Coast Salish physician and actor from the Sliammon Band near Powell River, BC. Dr. Adams will kick off our conference and set the stage for our conference theme with a talk on how our health is imbedded in the communities in which we work, play, and study.

Monday, May 25 Blake Fly: Closing Keynote and Banquet Emcee Blake improves campus culture by making people feel like they matter. He seeds actions of appreciation, recognition and thoughtfulness into the daily routines of students, staff, and campus partners. Simply put, Blake helps students graduate happy and provides campuses with resources to make that possible. Note: Tickets to the closing banquet can be purchased separately for guests or those not attending the full conference.

Wednesday, May 27 14 / COMMUNIQUÉ / TOME 15 / NUMÉRO 1 / WINTER 2015

Diversity in Action: Transfor ming Students fr om Pa s s i v e t o A c t i v e W i t n e s s e s o n Campus by Hedda Hakvåg, CJ Rowe, and Peter Wanyenya


ou are in a group during student orientation. During introductions, one of the participants says he’s from Toronto. Your group leader seems unconvinced. ‘Yeah, but where are you really from?’ he asks.”

What would you do in the above situation? Are you okay with the assumptions made by the group leader, or should you intervene? These are questions posed by the Really? Campaign to stimulate reflection, discussion, and action against discrimination. Bystander intervention programs have become increasingly popular on Canadian and American college and university campuses (Banyard, Moynihan, & Crossman, 2009) but have largely been employed towards sexual assault prevention and domestic violence. The Really? Campaign, an active witnessing program introduced at the University of British Columbia in 2012, applies the bystander model to a broader social justice agenda by teaching students to respond to all discriminatory comments and situations. Over the course of two years, more than 1000 students have participated in active witnessing workshops, 65 student leaders and 30 staff have been trained as workshop facilitators, and thousands of students have interacted with awareness posters and digital signs. In the summer of 2014, the Active Witnessing Model was integrated into student leadership training, introducing an additional 1500 student leaders to the model ahead of fall orientation. The goal of the Really? Campaign is to strengthen intercultural understanding and respect for diversity on campus, thereby supporting UBC’s commitment to an inclusive living and learning environment. The program employs an anti-oppression framework to educate students about racism, sexism, and intersecting forms of oppression. It also fosters skill-building by teaching students effective strategies to intervene when they witness discrimination. Really?’s scenario-based learning reflects the idea that learning is a process that derives from experience (Kolb, 1984) and through critical assessment of one’s own assumptions (Mezirow, 1991). Based on Ishiyama’s (2011) Active Witnessing Model, the program emphasizes the social context of learning and validates learning through relationships and emotional responses, empathy in particular. Training of student facilitators is one key aspect of the program, as peer education is effective for educating students on sensitive topics (White et al., 2009), and through facilitation experience students build leadership skills and become active agents for social change. Implementation

The Really? Campaign, housed in Student Development & Services and partly funded by the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund, started in 2012 after the amalgamation of an anti-racist training program with a sexual assault awareness initiative. We believe that the program could not have been implemented and sustained without strong community partnerships. Really? works to achieve content relevance and accuracy through continual dialogues with the campus population, drawing on the expertise of two groups in particular: the Community of Practice and campus partners. The Community of Practice is made up of Really? student facilitators who meet on a biweekly basis, and it aims to create a safe space for difficult dialogues and on-going training for the students who have undergone the two-day facilitator training. It is also a space for transformative social leadership, in which the student facilitators share their expertise as community members and use it to develop new priorities and focus areas for the program. Similar work is being done by our campus partners, which include Access & Diversity; the First Nations House of Learning; International Student Development; the Equity and Inclusion Office; AMS, the student society; the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology; and Dr. Ishu Ishiyama from the Faculty of Education. Campus partners convene in an advisory committee that is regularly consulted on program development. In addition, new program content is reviewed by other relevant campus offices and organizations to ensure that the material deals with topics of discrimination in a way that is meaningful to the social groups who are the most heavily affected by it. Such check-ins are important because no matter how good our intentions are, we do make mistakes. In a meeting this past spring, an expert in disability services pointed out that the caption of one of our early vignettes, “student in a wheelchair,” was an ableist term that should be changed to “student using a wheelchair.” This experience demonstrates that diversity work is best done in dialogue, through continual engagement with campus community members. Program Evaluation and Learning Outcomes The value of dialogue and strong relationships are emphasized by students who have taken part in the program. Pre- and post-workshop surveys, together with interviews with student participants and facilitators, show that students are gaining crucial skills in context evaluation, self-awareness, and communicating across difference. However, more safe spaces and opportunities for practicing active witnessing are still needed. “I think it made me a lot more comfortable to saying no to what isn’t right, just saying it isn’t right, and you know, that’s something that I really didn’t have before,” one twenty-year-old participant told us. In participants’ accounts, what emerges as the most important part of the Really? workshops is not so much being taught practical strategies for active witnessing as being given the space to discuss and share strategies with other participants. Participants value peer discussion because it provides new perspectives at the same time as it builds confidence by fostering relationships and a sense of community, reassuring students they are not alone in working for change. In interviews, students share stories of successful interventions, failed interventions, and situations where they chose not to intervene at all. It is clear that students experience multiple barriers to active witnessing, including fears of embarrassing friends and acquaintances, of “not want[ing] the person to think [they are] so uptight” (participant, age 20) and believing that “people don’t mean to word things poorly” (participant, age 21). Interviewed participants stress the importance of context and timing, recognizing that “Oh, I should’ve said something there, but it’s like the moment’s kind of gone, and it’s really hard to say something after that point” (participant, age 20). Nevertheless, the survey data shows that the Really? program is increasing students’ willingness to intervene, and it is drastically improving their sense of skills. After the workshop, 92.6% of students felt they “quite” or “extremely” have the skills to intervene in a given scenario, as opposed to only 42.3% of students who felt this way before the workshop. In the interviews, most students COMMUNIQUÉ / VOLUME 15 / ISSUE 1 / WINTER 2015 / 15

The Active Witnessing Triangle 16 / COMMUNIQUÉ / TOME 15 / NUMÉRO 1 / WINTER 2015

reported that they are intervening more frequently after the workshop and that the workshop has helped them to challenge discrimination in more productive ways, “to get people to have a chance to revise what they say instead of just being, ‘Oh, what you say is wrong.’.” (participant, age 19). One of the challenges of active witnessing is to open up a dialogic space rather than shutting down conversations. Really? participants are univocally affirming the importance of facilitators modeling this form of engagement in the workshops. One strategy that the Really? Campaign has employed is to selectively recruit facilitators from diverse disciplines across campus and based on their previous experience with social justice-related work. When facilitators have a level of maturity with active witnessing, they are better able to value and stimulate participant engagement. Participants report that they are learning from this facilitation style and applying it in their everyday lives to communicate across difference. Note on Moving Forward Far from experiencing diversity fatigue, Really? participants are calling for more skills-based trainings and more opportunities to practice active witnessing. We therefore have to ask ourselves, “As student service professionals, are we doing enough to create such spaces on campus, and are we including enough people in this work?” One interviewed participant had the following to say: “I personally think that until every single student at UBC goes through the Really? Campaign training, including professors, faculty – everyone, staff - I don’t think that [discrimination] is an issue that will go away or will decrease by any means.” In the interviews, Really? participants are advancing a complex understanding of active witnessing and leadership for social change, seeing it as long-term project that involves ongoing difficult conversations and constant self-reflection. The students are willing to take on this project, to challenge themselves and friends to learn and unlearn, but they want to see administration and faculty do the same. Our program evaluation suggests the need for providing all campus community members with more tools and spaces to engage with the institutional commitments to diversity and equity. By creating active witnesses that both recognize and are able to challenge everyday scenarios of injustice, the Really? Campaign offers a unique intersectional approach to anti-discrimination that can make post-secondary educational institutions more inclusive learning environments for everyone. As the program continues, we are seeking to integrate elements of active witnessing into all relevant training and educational opportunities for students, staff, and faculty.

Hedda Hakvåg is an M.A. student at UBC’s Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice and a research assistant with Access & Diversity. CJ Rowe is the Diversity Advisor, Women with UBC’s Access & Diversity office. When CJ has a difficult time describing the work that she does at the University, she is reminded of how one of her student assistants describes her role: “You fight the patriarchy for pay.” Peter Wanyenya is the International Student Advisor, Special Populations and Programs at UBC. Peter is committed to advancing tenets and actions that promote diversity, ‎inclusion, and intercultural understanding on campus and beyond. For more information on the Really? Campaign, please contact either CJ at or Peter at References Banyard, V. L., Moynihan, M. M., & Crossman, M. T. (2009). Reducing sexual violence on campus: The role of student leaders as empowered bystanders. Journal of College Student Development, 50(4), 446-457. doi:10.1353/csd.0.0083 Ishiyama, F. I. (2011). The Anti-discrimination Response Training (A. R. T. ) Program: The facilitator’s guide for teaching active witnessing skills. Unpublished manual. UBC, Vancouver, BC. Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc. Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative dimensions of adult learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. White, S., Park, Y. S., Israel, T., & Cordero, E. D. (2009). Longitudinal evaluation of peer health education on a college campus: Impact on health behaviors. Journal of American College Health, 57, 497-506. doi: 10.3200/JACH.57.5.497-50

Member Needs Assessment All CACUSS members will be asked to participate in an upcoming “Needs Assessment”, during the month of March. This very important survey (and follow up focus groups) will determine the future direction that CACUSS will take in providing high quality professional development for our members. The survey will also help us build member engagement and communication tools moving forward. We ask that you invest your time to participate in this important project!


The Leader and His Broom

he was ready to retire, my father’s title was largely irrelevant. Kenneth Blanchard believes that “the key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority,” and my father would heartily agree. So what relevance does my dad’s job at North York General Hospital and my childhood recollection of it have to do with leadership today? Everything. I was maybe ten years old, and my friends and I were chatting in the school yard. The conversation went into what our parents “did.” One was a firefighter, by Frank Cappadocia another was a teacher, others were in bricklaying or carpentry, and when it was y dad was a janitor. Today, you’d refer to him my turn I said very proudly, “Well he’s got this great job at the hospital as a nightas a “custodian,” which has a much nicer shift janitor.” Some just politely nodded, but others, one in particular, thought ring to it. In 1975, though, he was “just a that janitors did nothing important. They felt it was the lowest job possible. “So, janitor.” As a five-year-old, I saw my dad as a your dad cleans toilets?” I didn’t understand. My dad was awesome. He was – and – a great man, knew surgeons and nurses, was loved at work, and was my hero. superhero. Since he worked the night shift, I didn’t see isWhy didn’t any of that matter to my friends? much of him during the day, but I thought that was cool! When you’re ten, what do you really know about life? It’s easy to write this Just like Batman, he was doing his thing at night when episode off as just another stupid thing that kids say, and I’ve certainly said a lot everything was quiet and everyone else was sleeping. of stupid things over the years. On the other hand, isn’t leadership still viewed by My dad was, and still is, awesome. My first notion of leadership was my dad, many as something that you either have or don’t? Isn’t greatness, and by extension who – although my mother would disagree – appeared to be the head of the “leadership,” still thought of as something only a few of us can really achieve? house and the leader of our family. At 5’4” and 140 pounds, my dad wasn’t a Doesn’t our position/title within the organization still define our leadership giant in size, but he certainly was in personality. He was, capacity to some people? Can leaders really clean toilets? in my childlike eyes, what every good father and leader Mahatma Gandhi, arguably one of the greatest leaders should be: kind, gracious, charismatic, friendly, and wise. I have studied, would answer yes to that last question. My father was always interested in what we - I’m the fourth Actually, Ghandi cleaned his own bathroom and insisted of six children - were doing and, most importantly, in how that everyone around him do the same. However, this we could be better not just as his children but as people article isn’t about whether a leader should clean the toilets and global citizens. or not; it is about leadership itself. Saturday mornings were always exciting times for me as I have read hundreds of books and reviewed countless a child. It was one of the times when I knew my dad would studies on leadership, and one of the most important be up and undoubtedly have some stories to share. Most of lessons I can share is that anyone who sincerely wants to my dad’s stories dealt with the myriad of things that go on at can improve their leadership capacity. We choose at every a hospital at night, and I was transfixed by them. One of the turn to be either better or lesser leaders. This is a choice most incredible facets of my dad’s job involved his contact and often it’s one that takes place outside of the bright with surgeons. As it turns out, a senior surgeon who has just lights, big stages, and LinkedIn pages. Leadership often come out of a grueling eight-hour operation wants to talk happens in the quietest spaces behind life’s curtain where to someone about anything but medicine. Not surprisingly, it’s just you, your gut, and your god. In those spaces, real there aren’t many people keen to chat with a neurologist leadership emerges, and real leadership isn’t always at three in the morning about non-surgical topics. In fact, Frank and his father Eraldo at Frank’s wedding in 1999 pleasant. Real leadership often comes with tremendous most of the hospital staff were told to “steer clear” of the sacrifice and tough decisions rarely followed by accolades. neurologists especially after an operation. This was seen Leadership for me has always been tied to courage, integrity, compassion, and as prudent advice and most of the hospital’s janitorial staff took it quite literally, action. Those of us in the Leadership world know this concept as “Servant going as far as avoiding eye contact if a surgeon walked by them. However, my Leadership.” Dr. Robert Greenleaf, one of the fathers of the Servant Leadership dad wasn’t like everyone else. model, said, “Good leaders must first become good servants.” Like any art form, My dad, who immigrated to Canada from Italy, only has a grade-eight education, leadership requires attention and thousands of hours of practice. Being a genius but that’s never stopped him. He’s always been a voracious reader. At the hospital, with great looks and incredible charm can help, but it can’t “make” you into a he could get the Toronto Star for free and was keen to engage in discussions on great leader; only you can do that. Only we can engage our leadership muscles politics, religion, soccer, or world events. My dad was ready to listen to and actively enough to shove apparently immovable objects. John Quincy Adams said, “If your participate with folks who often had as many degrees as my father had children. actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, While my father wasn’t a surgeon, he was arguably an expert on fatherhood and you are a leader.” The key word for me in Adams’ statement is “actions,” and for knew what went into raising a family. Senior surgeons and hospital administrators this reason, I have committed myself to doing more to boost my own leadership eventually came to appreciate my father’s company and stories. Over time, Dad’s potential whenever possible and on occasion, sharing my stories of great servant cleaning duties were given less importance by senior management so that he could leaders like my hero, Eraldo Cappadocia. spend more time doing “important things.” While they never really told him what those more important things were, Dad understood that his conversations helped Yours in leadership, folks who were under a great deal of stress. Sometimes it was a surgeon, other Frank times a nurse, and oftentimes a new parent or patient who’d been up all night. Regardless of who it was, my dad was ready to talk or, more importantly, to listen. Frank Cappadocia is Associate Vice-President at Lakehead University’s Orillia My dad the “janitor” was specifically sought out by ER doctors who wanted to Campus where he is responsible for oversight and support of all Orillia share a coffee and was given free access to the doctors’ lounge’s coffee machine Campus Administrative Services. Frank holds a Masters in Community – at the time, a very rare device that was off-limits to everyone else. (Dad always Leadership from Regis University and has served in several leadership roles at both Ryerson and York Universities prior to his current position. He can insisted that the “doctors’ coffee” was far better than the cafeteria’s!) By the time be reached at​.



Trees & Transition


by John Hannah & Deena Kara Shaffer

ll education is environmental education,” writes Oberlin College Professor David Orr, who also posits that the “goal of education is not mastery of subject matter but mastery of one’s person…[We] use ideas, knowledge, and experience to forge one’s own personhood” (2011, p. 243). It was in this very spirit that last July, six students, two of us staff, and two guides mini-vanned our way from downtown Toronto up to Rock Lake where we paddled for three days into the beauty, challenge, and insight of Algonquin Park. Together, we, John Hannah, Assistant Director of Student Learning Support, and Deena Kara Shaffer, Learning and Transition Facilitator for Ryerson’s disability services office, Academic Accommodation Support, hosted Portage, a key part of our summer transition program, helping students ready themselves for entry into the first year of their post-secondary journey. Portage offers students an opportunity to recognize their immense capabilities, organically cultivate confidence, and build community via the most honest and direct way we and an increasing number of educators know: time immersed in nature. The students who joined us this past summer in our revamped Portage program were a true representation of Ryerson’s diverse study body: a mix of gender, sexuality, race, and socio-economic background. What brought them together to take part in this transition program was that each lives with one or several disabilities that impact learning, from ADHD; to dyslexia; to learning disabilities that affect, for example, executive function or working memory; to mental health issues. We put up tents, cooked, cleaned, and sang together. Some conversations were directly about fears, wonderings, and strategies for the upcoming academic year; however, most were not. No doubt, at the outset of the trip some students questioned why they had signed up for Portage and what it had to do with starting at Ryerson in the fall. As the hours and lakes passed, and as we took breaks to swim and snack, jumped off rocks to meet our anxieties head-on, traded fire-building techniques, laughed at quickly forming inside jokes, and settled into a rhythm, the connections as to “why” became ever clearer. And, wouldn’t you know, while hauling gear and balancing canoes overhead, all the while wiping sweat and swatting at mosquitoes, one student blurted to another, “If I can make it through this portage, I can survive any exam!” Indeed, rallying what it takes to perseversae through a demanding two-kilometre trek between lakes parallels what one needs to thrive in postsecondary studies: seeing one’s inner strengths, creating strong bonds with others, setting goals, learning from missteps, and always trying. This was made all the richer and sweeter when students shared their personal stories of their trials over the years navigating school with various invisible disabilities. It became clear to us all that the Portage program was about self-efficacy and the deepest of resiliency skills. There are long-standing studies that indicate that the palpable effects we witnessed emerging from the Portage experience were not accidental. Deena was and still is new to the field, but John was more in the know when he initiated Portage here at Ryerson in 2008. Since then, the program has taken different forms, from taking Work Study students on trips, to very small numbers of

students with learning disabilities only. This past summer, and going forward, we are keen to invite more participants, go out on fall and winter trips to further solidify the students’ learning and community, reach out to students with more disabilities including ASD, and branch out to create faculty-specific curricula such as bringing our incoming Engineering or Architecture cohorts. The question for us that underlies this outdoor transition program is “How come?” We know through lived experience that concentration sharpens, grit strengthens, and friendship grows. There is something undeniably unique and powerful about such adventure programs, something altogether different from on-campus orientation workshops, tours, and activities. How come? Thankfully, there is an already abundant, and growing, body of research that helps to explain why outdoor programs assist the first-year transition with unparalleled relevance, lastingness, and retention. One report notes that “adventure orientation programs, often designed to promote social bonds and build teamwork, may do a better job of meeting student needs than other orientation programs…. [d]ue to their time intensity and small-group social environment…compel[ling] students to be engaged both psychologically and physically” (Vlamis, Bell & Gass, p. 129).

Scenes from Portage, Ryerson University’s outdoor education transition program

The work of, in particular, Ray Land and Jan Meyer on so-called ‘threshold concepts’ provides an interesting, speculative lens through which to understand the value of the canoe trip experience of Portage. Meyer and Land (2003, 2005) introduced the idea of ‘conceptual gateways’ or ‘portals’ that mark a passageway between one state of knowledge or awareness of a subject and a fuller knowledge of that subject. That space between is occupied by students who struggle in what Elizabeth Ellsworth (1997) describes as “stuck places,” where they wrestle with the obstacles to their understanding. Certain learning experiences or interventions can “…act in the manner of a portal, or learning threshold, through which a new perspective opens up for the learner” (Land, Rattray & Vivian, 2014, p. 200). This concept relates to the notion of transformative learning as an integrative shift in perspective but emphasises the importance of this recursive, liminal threshold space, the initial encounter “… and integration with something new” (Land, Rattray & Vivian, 2014, p. 201). If we speculate that the experience of transition to post-secondary education for students with learning disabilities is an example of a “stuck place” in which they are presented with a variety of barriers, existential and otherwise, the job of educators is to design educational spaces in which these barriers can be re-imagined, to create what Winnicott describes as a “holding environment” (as cited in Meyer & Land, 2005, p. 377). Within these holding environments we can help students to cope with the dread that often accompanies transition: …a threshold has always demarcated that which belongs within, the place of familiarity and relative security, from what lies beyond that, the unfamiliar, the unknown, the potentially dangerous. It reminds us too that all journeys COMMUNIQUÉ / VOLUME 15 / ISSUE 1 / WINTER 2015 / 19

begin with leaving that familiar space and crossing over into the riskier space beyond the threshold. So, too, with any significant transformation in learning. (Mayer, Land & Baillie, 2013, p. ix)

The canoe trip experience, characterized very much as a ‘space between,’ does not have as its aim the transformation of the participant; that’s too extravagant. Rather, the aim is to offer an experience that includes awe, the development of authentic social bonds that are inevitable on such journeys, and an appreciation for place that comes from a direct, intimate experience with nature. Participants pass quickly from deep disorientation to a sense of communal flow, an experience that can be used to meaningfully reflect student experiences as they make the transition to university life: a strong beginning to that greater transformation. John Hannah, Assistant Director of Student Learning Support, is a creative and committed educator who founded Portage, Ryerson’s outdoor education transition program. He is currently completing his second master’s degree in Education. John can be reached at john.hannah@

Scenes from Portage, Ryerson University’s outdoor education transition program

The Portage experience, a holding environment which itself embodies the idea of transition, can be viewed as a way of helping students move through this ‘stuck place’ of postsecondary transition. Students may arrive with a naïve or fearful perspective on this major transition and, instead of avoiding and rushing them through that troublesome space through traditional orientation events, Portage honours the disruptive experience by intentionally creating it. Setting off from shore on a canoe trip can be a very powerful moment of letting go, an encounter with the “potentially dangerous.” The first portage itself can represent a deep sense of leaving behind, a passage from one realm to another: a threshold. It is itself a troublesome space across which participants oscillate, struggle, and persevere. In the words of one of our Portage participants, Matthew: The me a few years ago would have completely shut down the idea of a portage. What life throws at us…and the curveball decisions we make, that makes us wonder “Did I just say yes to that?” This is by far my biggest fear… [I]t’s completely normal and part of life to feel uncomfortable sometimes. This canoe trip experience and the portages en route offer a powerful space in which to force a reckoning with transition and to create social bonds that enable participants to pass through various personal thresholds. One can witness a rapid shift from early discomfort and disorientation on the first day of paddling, to what Bell et al. (2014, p. 41) describe as “…feelings of belonging and an ability to be authentic within a new status system where a group shares power among participants in a just and equitable manner.”

Deena Kara Shaffer is a learning specialist at Ryerson University, doctoral student at OISE/UT in Philosophy of Education, freelance writer on education and health, and published poet. Deena can be reached at deena. References Bell, B., Gass, M., Nafzigar, C., & Starbuck, D. (2014). The State of Knowledge of Outdoor Orientation Programs: Current Practices, Research, and Theory. Journal of Experiential Education 37(1), 31-45.  Bell, B, Gass, M., & Vlamis, E. (2011). Effects of a College Adventure Orientation Program on Student Development Behaviors. Journal of Experiential Education (34)2, 127-148. Ellsworth, E. (1997). Teaching Positions: Difference Pedagogy and the Power of Address. New York: Teachers College Press.  Land, R. Rattray, J. & Vivian, P. (2014). Learning in the liminal space: a semiotic approach. Higher Education (67), 199-217.  Meyer, J. & Land, R. (2003). Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge: Linkages to ways of thinking and practicing within the disciplines. In C. Rust (Ed.), Improving Student Learning: Improving Student Learning Theory and Practice – Ten years On. Oxford: Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development. Meyer, J. & Land, R. (2005). Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge: Epistemological considerations and a conceptual framework for teaching and learning. Higher Education (49), 373-388. Meyer, J., Land, R., & Baillie, C. (2010). Editor’s Preface. In J. Mayer, R. Land, & C. Baillie (Eds.), Threshold Concepts and Transformational Learning (pp. ix-xlii). Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense Publishers. Orr, David. (2011). Hope Is an Imperative: The Essential David Orr. Washington, DC: Island Press.

Scenes from Portage, Ryerson University’s outdoor education transition program 20 / COMMUNIQUÉ / TOME 15 / NUMÉRO 1 / WINTER 2015

Our Trip to Boston by Samantha Hartlen and Sarah Memme


n 2014, both of us (Samantha and Sarah) were serving as Student Life Coordinators, Leadership Development on one-year contracts within the Office of Student Life at the University of Toronto (U of T). This opportunity allowed us to continue important and engaging leadership development opportunities for students, faculty, and staff. It also allowed us to review programs, processes, and curricula, while offering new perspectives. To support us with this work, we participated in a unique professional development (PD) opportunity and created our own trip to Boston, Massachusetts. Here are our five key takeaways, from planning to reflection.. Creating Your Experience Articulating our professional development goals, and then selecting the best ways to achieve them, was a new way of approaching PD. In the past, we’ve identified a conference that we found interesting, registered, and then looked at what was available to try and map the journey that was most relevant for us. With the support and encouragement of our supervisor, Adam Kuhn, we created professional development plans. The foci of these plans was to develop professional capacities and increase knowledge, not to identify types of activities. Through this process, we recognized that the best way for us to reach our goals was to have one-on-one conversations with professionals doing similar work. After some research, we selected Boston as the best place for us to connect with other professionals. The city is in an urban location, similar to Toronto, and it is the home to over 90 post-secondary institutions, many of which have impressive leadership programs. From there we started our research: which institution should we connect with, would they be willing to host us, and what are the key things we want to know about each program. We selected five key institutions in and around Boston to visit: Boston University, Boston College, Suffolk University, Northeastern University, and Harvard University. These five were key to showcasing leadership programming we were interested in, had similar populations to the University of Toronto, and were keen in us visiting them for a half-day so that we could learn more about them and they could learn more about us and U of T. Doing Your Homework It was essential that we “did our homework” before we reached out to institutions to take part in our PD project, and even more so before we chose to travel to Boston. Being prepared helped us when identifying which institutions would be most beneficial to visit; when we were in Boston and meeting with individuals, we knew information about the university, their role, and the programs they coordinated and supported. We created key questions and listed topics that we wanted to discuss, and it made our conversations and meetings more meaningful and worthwhile. We also found our Boston colleagues were quite interested in what we do at U of T. We were able to give them a quick handout of the key programs and areas we covered in our work so they could have something to reference when asking us questions.

Valuable Conversations and Making Connections Through our time meeting with individuals in Boston, we were able to truly put our reflective listening skills to use. We were surprised by the depth of learning and information sharing in such a short period of time. Everyone we met with was so excited and willing to share, and they were eager to learn from us too. Sharing our learning goals at the beginning of our conversations allowed us to use our time effectively, and in many cases our colleagues would introduce us to others that they thought we could also benefit from meeting and speaking to. These valuable conversations (lasting a couple of hours or so) have transferred into valuable connections and a network of new “friends” to chat with about programming! Since the Boston trip, we have been in touch at least once with everyone we met. Reflection We were constantly reflecting during our adventure to Boston. (Maybe we just love reflection too much.) As we took the subway from university to university, we would chat with each other about the experience and how each school was similar to or different from our institution. It was ideal for us to reflect at the end of each day on how the campus visit went: what we had learned, what we liked/did not like, and what we would want to take back. This daily, small reflection helped prepare us for a larger reflection once we got home. We also conducted a Lunch & Learn for our colleagues at U of T to share key learnings and takeaways from our experience. Beyond thinking about how to integrate what we learned into our programming at U of T, we also reflected on our personal values around education and gained a deeper understanding of student affairs and leadership programs in the United States. We both reflected that while we learnt so much and made meaningful lasting connections, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. We have so much to be proud of in the work that we do and the way we approach student leadership development. Having Fun! Throughout our trip to Boston we had a ton of fun! We ensured that the trip was about more than just work; it had to be a true experience. We explored the city via foot, subway, and streetcar. We chatted with students from the different schools (mostly to ask for directions…). Trying to understand what the culture was like, we asked where they lived and studied, and what types of co-curricular activities they engaged in. We wanted to understand the student experience at each institution. We took photos and videos to show our colleagues where we were and what we were experiencing. Remembering to have fun allowed us to integrate our personal and professional goals and create memories. In Brief After our four-day adventure in Boston, we can both say that it was an incredible experience to actually have conversations with people one-on-one as well as to learn about programs, the culture of a campus, and some of the challenges and successes that pertain to our work. This intentional PD has led us to think of what “professional development” is in another way - and how to use it to continue to create connections and development in the work that we do. Samantha Hartlen is the Career Education Coordinator at the University of Toronto. She can be reached at Sarah Memme is the Student Development Officer - Civic & Community Engagement at the University of Toronto. She can be reached at


Building a Culture of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities at the University of Alberta:

Many definitions of undergraduate research emphasize original or mentored research opportunities such as summer projects, independent studies, and honours research (Council on Undergraduate Research, 2011), which are often limited to high-achieving students at an advanced stage of their programs. However, undergraduate students gain an awareness of research in a variety of contexts throughout their studies, which may or may not culminate in a mentored research opportunity. The URI has therefore adopted a framework that recognizes undergraduate research as a continuum of activities supporting progressive skill development – from learning about research in lecture courses, to learning methods of the discipline, to inquiry-based learning environments and hands-on, mentored research. FIGURE 1 A framework for undergraduate research and creative activities at the University of Alberta (Adapted from the Committee on the Learning Environment (CLE) sub-committee report: Teaching, Research and Discovery Learning: Recommendations for a Great University, University of Alberta, January 2010, http://www.psych.ualberta. ca/~varn/Documents/TeachResearchCLEJan10.pdf)

The Undergraduate Research Initiative by Crystal Snyder


ourth-year psychology student Kelly Nisbet is reflecting a lot on her undergraduate experience these days. She’s busy writing applications for graduate school, publishing her undergraduate research in psycholinguistics, and mentoring fellow undergrads who – like herself not so long ago – are dipping their toes into research for the first time.

For Kelly, undergraduate research has meant the difference between simply earning a degree and blazing her own trail into a career she never imagined four years ago. “When I started,” she recalls, “I had no idea research was something that students could do. I didn’t even know what questions to ask. Now, I would say that the options for undergraduate research at the University of Alberta are limitless. Now there is a place for any student to get help, start asking questions, and feel empowered to follow their curiosity.” That place is the University of Alberta’s Undergraduate Research Initiative (URI), launched in 2011 to provide centralized support for undergraduate research across all academic disciplines. The URI’s vision is to foster a campus-wide culture at the University of Alberta in which every undergraduate student has the opportunity to engage in research and creative activities. The URI works with individual students, faculty, staff, student groups, and other partners to promote, facilitate, and celebrate student research, both in and out of the classroom. While there is a long history of undergraduate research programs in the United States, and a growing number of such programs in Canada, the URI differs from many programs in ways that have allowed us to reach students who may not otherwise have access to research opportunities. More Than Mentored Research: An Inclusive Model of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities


This model not only provides a theoretical foundation to support curricular integration of undergraduate research but also guides the development of the URI’s services targeting students throughout their programs. The URI offers a range of services that provide flexibility for students at any skill level to explore and participate in short- or long-term opportunities – from one-hour skill development workshops and in-class tutorials, to full-year mentored research projects. One of our most popular programs is our interdisciplinary “Research Crawls” in which students interact with a variety of researchers and research projects in a single day. Such events are a low-risk way for students to explore their options and overcome misconceptions about getting involved in undergraduate research. FIGURE 2 Undergraduate students get a hands-on demonstration at the Rehabilitation Robotics Lab during an interdisciplinary biomedical Research Crawl. Other Research Crawl themes have included social sciences and fine arts research.

The URI benefits greatly from its placement within student services. The program is unique among undergraduate research offices in that it operates within the university’s career centre. This relationship frames undergraduate research within an existing suite of experiential learning and career education opportunities, making the benefits clearer to students who may not be interested in graduate or professional school. Through collaborative programs, such as research-related job shadowing or work search seminars for undergraduate researchers, students are encouraged to explore a diverse range of skills and career options arising from research involvement. Thinking Outside of the Disciplinary Box: Supporting Interdisciplinary Skill Development As a centralized, campus-wide initiative, the URI facilitates the development of students’ interdisciplinary awareness, complementing discipline-specific knowledge and skills students gain through their program of study. Interdisciplinarity (the integration and synthesis of methods, concepts, or approaches from across disciplines) is a guiding theme throughout the URI’s programs and services, but its application is perhaps best demonstrated through our Undergraduate Researcher Stipend program. The Stipend provides funding for undergraduate students to complete self-initiated, mentored research projects that are 4 to 12 months in duration. Projects must not only be interdisciplinary in scope, but proposals must also be written in language accessible to an interdisciplinary faculty-student adjudication committee. The URI provides supportive programming to assist applicants in effective proposal writing and interdisciplinary communication, and Stipend recipients are strongly encouraged to present their research at U of A’s annual campus-wide interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research Symposium. FIGURE 3 Students from all disciplines present their work at the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium.

in a faculty other than their own. This unique program contributes significantly to the opportunity for research and serves as a model for other, much older funding programs that exist. Alleviating Academic and Administrative Barriers to Undergraduate Research One of the most common concerns we hear from students is that undergraduate research opportunities are restricted to a very specific student demographic: third- or fourth-year, full-time, continuing, domestic students with a certain minimum GPA. Regardless of research interest or aptitude, the majority of students are excluded from undergraduate research funding simply by virtue of their academic or enrolment status. Although administratively convenient, these criteria offer little useful information about the applicant’s potential as a researcher and may actually confound desired program outcomes through biased participation (Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada, 2012). The URI has taken a different approach with its Stipend program, emphasizing project criteria and student impact over academic status. Adjudicators receive no information about applicants’ program, year of study, enrolment status, or academic standing. Each application is judged on the interdisciplinarity of the project, impact on the student’s skill development, merit and quality of the proposal, feasibility of the proposed research, and the supervisor’s commitment to mentoring the student. There are also relatively few restrictions on supervisor eligibility, which has allowed students the flexibility to work with graduate students, adjunct faculty, and community partners. Only after adjudication do we confirm that shortlisted applicants meet the minimum academic requirements. Students may not be on academic probation, and they may not hold the Stipend for a project for which academic credit is given (e.g., honours projects). Although first- and second-year students still face some barriers to undergraduate research, such as lack of awareness or preparation for research, the Stipend criteria level the playing field for those students who do choose to pursue research and creative activities early in their programs. To date, 35% of our stipend recipients have been first- or second-year students. Similarly, the Stipend has provided a pathway for less academically competitive students to participate in undergraduate research. For these students, this opportunity can be a deeply transformative experience. One Stipend recipient notes: I am exponentially more interested and more confident in this area of my field... I know that the level of “talent” ascribed to me by my grades is not representative of my true capability to understand and research an area of science.

To date, the URI has supported more than 120 projects through the Stipend program, each with its own interdisciplinary aspects. Students may interpret the interdisciplinary requirement in a variety of ways. They may work outside of their own discipline, work within an interdisciplinary team, employ interdisciplinary methods, or apply their research outcomes to other disciplines. The interdisciplinary nature of the Stipend program has yielded a diverse range of projects – from the application of virtual archeology, to sustainable building design, to an exploration of hip-hop culture as a means of supporting identity among inner-city Aboriginal youth. Many Stipend recipients have credited the program for providing the freedom to pursue research projects that would not normally be funded through other programs. One student, a physics major who completed a research project in political science, writes: Had this program not existed, my research project would not have been possible... The URI Stipend program is the only program I know of that does not prohibit students from pursuing research

Kelly Nisbet agrees. “GPA was a definite barrier in the beginning, even though I knew I could do the research. The URI Stipend was the only thing I could apply for. Now I’ve done conference presentations, posters, and publications. I’ve earned a chance at getting into grad school.” What’s Next? In just three years, the URI has already begun to make progress toward creating a culture of undergraduate research at the University of Alberta. We have recently completed our second annual survey of undergraduate research awareness. Nearly 50% of students are now aware of the URI (compared to 30% in 2013), and 77% of respondents are aware that there are undergraduate research opportunities at the University of Alberta. However, only 50% of respondents felt that there were undergraduate research opportunities available to them, suggesting that there are still significant real or perceived barriers to undergraduate research, particularly within certain disciplines (e.g., Arts). Understanding and addressing these barriers, from both faculty and student perspectives, is an ongoing priority for the URI. Following our initial focus on developing the URI’s student-facing services, we are also turning our attention toward increasing faculty awareness and developing COMMUNIQUÉ / VOLUME 15 / ISSUE 1 / WINTER 2015 / 23

resources to support and recognize undergraduate research mentorship. The URI has already created a student-nominated award recognizing outstanding mentors and has recently launched a new faculty ambassador program to foster awareness of undergraduate research among faculty, graduate students, and staff. In the meantime, our students continue to prove – one project at a time – that undergraduate research can truly take them anywhere. For more information on the University of Alberta’s Undergraduate Research Initiative, please visit Crystal Snyder is the Coordinator for the University of Alberta’s Undergraduate Research Initiative and can be reached at References Council on Undergraduate Research. (2011). What is the definition of undergraduate research? Retrieved from: frequently_asked_questions_/#2 Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada. (2012). Evaluation of NSERC’s Undergraduate Student Research Awards – Final Evaluation Report. Retrieved from: USRAFR_e.pdf

for an individual blogger or videographer, because the ideas have been flowing endlessly from each of them. Instead, I facilitate those ideas into a product that their authors would be proud of and that will have a wide reach across the student audience. Facilitation in this case has been anything from simple copyedits to a brainstorming session on how best to tackle an idea. The most validating part of this work so far has been seeing the students’ ownership of the community they represent and the investment in their work. When a particular blog or video does well, such as being read or viewed by thousands across campus, the team and the particular author show a true sense of pride. Even more, when a piece does not do as well as expected, the team expresses interest in learning why and how they can improve for next time. Hearing feedback such as, “I am overwhelmed (in a good way!) by the response to my blog,” “These are the little things that make a huge impact on my life. I appreciate your feedback on my work,” and “I can’t believe writing blogs is my job when last year I was working for McDonald’s,” is an incredible feeling because I get to be a part of that pride as well as get to see each of their work grow and develop. Each blog has been better than the last; each video has been more creative. Seeing the springboard effect of idea-to-idea spread through the team makes me feel so privileged to work with such a talented team. Finally, one of my goals in this position was to facilitate the production of meaningful and thoughtful projects that are not only relevant to students but to youth and society at large. Much of the work I have been able to assist in creating has stemmed from ideas that I myself had not been able to fully articulate when I was an undergraduate student. From tackling street harassment and slut-shaming, to exposing personal experiences with anxiety and panic attacks, to reflecting on small acts of kindness and the harshness of the city, to looking at homophobia and the power of language, the reflective and thoughtful pieces are making an impact across campus alongside the more light-hearted pieces. Defining “meaningful” was a challenge I had given myself at the start of this role, and I passed this challenge onto the team, who have stepped up in full Technicolor. I think part of this growth has been the students seeing each other approach difficult or personal topics and feeling inspired to do the same. Learning from each other is at the root of my facilitation practice and has aided this balance, the one between musings on student life and introspective pieces on society, to thrive.

Leading Leaders through Facilitation by Tesni Ellis


hile I have been in leadership roles in the past, my role in Student Affairs at Ryerson University has me in my first “official” supervisory role, leading the RU Student Life team of students who produce blogs, videos, and graphics, and manage our social media platforms as a digital community. My approach to leadership has always been to facilitate learning, to assist and mentor rather than delegate. I think it is for this reason that so far the team has been both successful in their work and has developed a strong investment in what they do.

While the students I hired already possessed a keen sense of leadership and drive, I saw in several of them a certain space to continue developing their agency, looking at them always from their unique positions and trying to amplify the voices they already have. For example, it’s not often that I “assign” specific topics 24 / COMMUNIQUÉ / TOME 15 / NUMÉRO 1 / WINTER 2015

The team’s and my first semester has ended, and much of my first few months in this role was spent figuring out what the day-to-day looked like, observing what the Student Affairs community already looked like and how I wanted to work within it, and learning how to work with students individually as well as in a team. I had not realized until now that this also meant figuring out what kind of supervisor I am. I am not sure how long it took each of the students to feel invested in their work, but I know I am still crafting a sense of ownership over what I do. Seeing the students celebrate their successes has been a huge motivator to look at everything we do as an opportunity to develop a voice and to impact our community. This is a feeling that I am riding into the next semester and that is helping me answer the question of what “meaningful” looks like and means for me as a supervisor. Tesni Ellis works at Ryerson University in the Student Affairs Creative Unit as the Digital Community Facilitator and is a recent graduate of a Master of Arts in Communication and Culture at York and Ryerson Universities. Tesni can be reached at

National Benchmarking Survey

on Academic Accommodations Offered to Students with Mental Health Conditions by Stephanie Peccia, Anna Barrafato, and Gordon Dionne


n the past decade, there has been a steady increase in the number of students with mental health conditions pursuing postsecondary education (Stein, 2005). Accordingly, there has also been a rise in the demand for academic accommodations at postsecondary campuses in the past decade (Queen’s University report, 2012). Postsecondary universities are legally obligated to provide appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities under the 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Section 15(1)) and the various provincial human rights legislations across Canada. The Charter includes academic accommodations that support students with disabilities, allowing equal opportunity to academic success and future employment opportunities.

While there has been research examining appropriate academic accommodations for students with learning disabilities (e.g., Brickerhoff, Shaw, & McGuire, 1992), few (if any) have examined appropriate accommodations for those living with mental health conditions (e.g., anxiety, depression, bipolar, obsessive-compulsive). Collins and Mowbray (2005) were among the few researchers who gathered detailed information about services available for students with mental health conditions across the United States; however, the focus was placed on services in general and not on academic accommodations specifically. Findings revealed that the most common services included the provision of individual support, accommodation letters, referral information regarding off-campus services, and assistance in attaining proper documentation. To our knowledge, no other studies have examined academic accommodations for students with mental health conditions across universities in Canada or the United States. The current benchmarking study examines the types and use of academic accommodations that are implemented by Disability Service Offices (DSO) across Canadian postsecondary institutions.

students with mental health conditions, (2) general and exam accommodations for nine mental health conditions, and (3) the rationales behind each accommodation. This report focuses on the most common academic accommodations for students with the most common mental health conditions, namely, anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, and bipolar disorders. Measure An online survey was developed by the manager, a disability accommodation specialist, and an advisor/research analyst at Concordia University’s Access Centre for Students with Disabilities (ACSD). The survey was sent via email to managers and advisors of DSOs in postsecondary institutions across Canada. The survey was organized by mental health condition. The survey included a list of academic accommodations and the participants were asked to check off which accommodations they provide to students with each mental health condition. Respondents were also asked to indicate how often each accommodation was provided in the past academic year (2013-2014). Participants Managers, directors, and advisors of 25 DSOs from postsecondary institutions in 9 provinces across Canada participated in this benchmarking study. Based on the reported total student enrolment, 48% of the institutions are classified as “very small” (0 – 5,000 students), 8% as “small” (5,001 – 10,000 students), 16% as “medium” (10,001 – 20,000 students), and 28% as “large” (over 20,001 students). Results General Accommodations. Findings reveal mostly similarities in the types of accommodations provided for students with anxiety, depressive, and bipolar disorders. Figure 1 displays the most common academic accommodations, which are individual supportive counselling/coaching within DSO, tutoring services, use of computer in classroom, learning skills specialist within DSO, ability to record lectures, access to lecture slides/professor’s notes, and the student recognized internally as full-time even if only registered part-time. When asked how often each of these accommodations are offered, most participating DSOs indicated that they are part of standard accommodations that are offered to all students, regardless of the disability condition. Findings did also reveal slight differences by mental health conditions; for instance, the “use of a laptop in the classroom” and the “ability to record lectures” were accommodations provided mostly for students with anxiety disorders and bipolar disorders and to a lesser extent for students with depressive disorders. Figure 1. Most common general accommodations for students with anxiety, depressive, and bipolar disorders.

The purpose of this report is to identify some national common practices among disability service providers. Furthermore, the findings may create a platform upon which Canadian DSOs may initiate a dialogue among professionals in the field about appropriate practices that are specific to this expanding student population. Method This report is part of a larger benchmarking study that investigated: (1) the documentation required in order to grant academic accommodations for COMMUNIQUÉ / VOLUME 15 / ISSUE 1 / WINTER 2015 / 25

Exam Accommodations. Participants were asked to indicate which exam accommodations were provided for students with anxiety, depressive, and bipolar disorders. Firstly, findings revealed that extra time is provided as a daily standard accommodation for all students registered with a DSO across institutions and regardless of the type of mental health condition. Participants were also asked to specify the percent extra time offered by mental health condition. Their responses were not mutually exclusive in that they could select more than one percent extra time; for instance, they could have checked off 25% extra time as well as 33% extra time. Figure 2 reveals that 50% extra time was provided most often as an exam accommodation across mental health conditions. Although 50% was most common, many DSOs reported that they also provide other percentages of extra time for students with anxiety, depressive, and bipolar disorders. Perhaps this finding suggests that the allocation of accommodations may fluctuate and depend on the individual needs of the student, beyond the diagnosis and label. No institutions reported that they provide unlimited exam time. Figure 2. Percent Extra Time for Students with Anxiety, Depressive, and Bipolar Disorders.

Discussion This benchmarking study explored the most common practices of DSOs in serving students with mental health conditions. Commonalities among postsecondary disability service providers across Canada were evident in the findings. This suggests that DSOs across Canada are doing similar work with this emerging student population. As common practices for accommodating more typical disability conditions already exist (e.g., extra time on exams, tutoring services, use of computer), DSOs must now review how they work with students with mental health conditions and develop common practices. The creation of cross-national standards of practice is encouraged, as enrolment of students with mental health conditions at postsecondary institutions increases (Collins & Mowbry, 2005). Of particular importance for these students, as highlighted in the findings, is the need for individual supportive counselling such as advising and coaching. This underscores the importance of the need for DSOs to work collaboratively with other student service providers on university campuses, such as Student Success Centres and Counselling and Mental Health Services. Future implications suggest that DSOs must develop stronger relationships with faculty and administration in reducing barriers for students with mental health conditions. Future studies could examine which accommodations are most effective and most pertinent to address the needs of this expanding student population. Stephanie Peccia is an advisor at Concordia University’s Access Centre for Students with Disabilities (ACSD). Stephanie can be reached at stephanie. Anna Barrafato is a licensed psychologist and a Disability Accommodation Specialist at Concordia University’s ACSD. Anna can be reached at

The survey also explored the provision of other exam accommodations. The most common exam accommodations across the three mental health conditions were use of a computer to type, permission to listen to music, use of noisecancelling headphones, allowance of food and drink, alternate room, small room, room alone, and breaks during exam. These accommodations (with the exception of “permission to listen to music”) were mostly offered daily, as part of the standard accommodations provided to all students registered with a DSO. Most participating DSOs reported that “permission to listen to music” was either not requested in the past year or was requested once or twice in the past six months. Furthermore, “permission to listen to music” and the “use of noise-cancelling headphones” were most common for students with anxiety and bipolar disorders and to a lesser extent for students with depressive disorders. Figure 3. Most common exam accommodations for students with anxiety, depressive, and bipolar disorders.

Gordon Dionne is a licensed psychologist and the Manager at Concordia University’s ACSD. Gordon can be reached at References Brinckerhoff, L. C., Shaw, S. F., & McGuire, J. M. (1992). Promoting access, accommodations, and independence for college students with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 25(7), 417-429. Clapham, L., Jahchan, R., Medves, J., Tierney, A., & Walker, D. (2012, November). Student mental health and wellness. Framework and recommendations for a comprehensive strategy. Retrieved from Queen’s University, Health Counselling and Disability Services website: http://www. Collins, M. E., & Mowbray, C. T. (2005). Higher education and psychiatric disabilities: National survey of campus disability services. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 75(2), 304-315. Retrieved from http://search. Stein, C. H. (2005). Aspirations, ability, and support: Consumers’ perceptions of attending college. Community Mental Health Journal, 41, 451-468. doi: 10.1007/s10597-005-5080-0


#CommuniqueThrowback 15 into 2015: Celebrating the Past 15 CACUSS Conferences

5 1

Whether you are a longtime veteran or planning to attend your first conference this May at CACUSS 2015, we hope you enjoy this blast from the past 15 years. How many of these conferences have you attended – and how many more are ahead of you?

CACUSS 2015 – Register Now May 24 – 27, 2015

Vancouver, British Columbia The annual CACUSS Conference brings together Student Services professionals from across Canada to share best practices, engage in educational opportunities and network with colleagues.

Registration Opens: Monday, February 23rd, 2015 Early Bird Registration Closes: Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 Registration Closes: Friday, May 15th 2015 Accommodations are available through the Delta Vancouver Suites and Pan Pacific Hotel Vancouver. Residence accommodation is also available at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby Campus. Go to the CACUSS Conference website for more information on room rates and how to book your stay. Book early to secure your stay!

For more information visit

Communique Winter 2015  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you