Last week, I went to a consultation on how to work out the kinks of the co-curricular record. The invitation was sent to many heads of clubs and societies, but only five showed up to UTM’s two sessions. Maybe they were too busy being so engaged elsewhere. Who can say. Anyway, I gave my opinion, along with our former news editor, Larissa Ho.
It’s a question of numbers. There aren’t many people dedicated to the CCR; there’s a tri-campus coordinator downtown. Without them, the basic problem is this: We have a lot of clubs. Not many of them are in close contact with staff or faculty. But we need a reliable, objective party to validate a student’s application to have their activities listed on the CCR with their transcript. If we don’t have that check, the CCR gets inundated with undeserving students and loses its credibility. So who should be the validator?
The Medium’s case is easy. Everyone who writes gets their name in print. We’d just submit the list of people who’ve written six articles over the year (whom we call “staff writers”).
But most of UTM’s clubs don’t have such tangible evidence of involvement. Say you organize a typical club event—discussion and fuchkas, perhaps—and students come. Should you take attendance? Even if so, how do we prove to a third party that you were responsible for that work? We could have the club president sign your application. But how do we avoid people signing for their friends? Could you turn down a friend who asked you to let them get credit so they could have a shot at getting into grad school?
As for UTMSU being the signer, the credibility problem still applies, albeit to a lesser degree, and so does the difficulty of having a fairly small staff supervise a lot of clubs.
The solutions proposed to us in the consultation were not bad, but not perfect. They proposed breaking the requirements into three more clearly defined steps. That’s good. But you still need to figure out who makes the assessments. The solution proposed was that each club be a part of a “community of practice”, linking them to relevant departments or offices of the university who could liaise with the clubs. In other words, break up the supervising into a lot of smaller pieces. But pairing them up might not be easy. Sure, the UTM Archery Club could be matched with the RAWC. But what about the many ethnic clubs we have? Do they all get dumped on the lap of, I don’t know, the sociology department? Or do they default back to UTM’s Department of Student Life, who offloaded them in the first place, and who currently has one person running the CCR in addition to her job description?
So how about we hire more staff? A student fee to pay for a CCR coordinator at UTM was proposed at a QSS meeting in February 2013, but was voted down by students who felt the university should fund it. Without it, the people best placed to sign are club execs, who’d still require verifying.
So far, the response is more consultation. Maybe we’re not ready for the CCR. Or maybe the university should make room in its budget for staff to manage the service.