The Department of Student Life concluded the consultation phase for the co-curricular record last week, intended to draw feedback from students, staff, and faculty on the project launched last September, with the hope of making substantive changes next year.
According to Kimberly Elias, the tri-campus project coordinator for the CCR, more than 300 sessions have been held over the past two years to consult and train members of the U of T community across its three campuses. The most recent phase involved meeting with the leaders of recognized student groups to determine how to include and validate student involvement in campus organizations on the record.
“One of the elements of inclusion on the CCR is a staff or faculty advisor, or validator of the student hours—we recognize that not all clubs, groups, and societies have that,” said Kate McGartland-Kinsella, student development officer at the Department of Student Life and lead administrator for the CCR at UTM. “We wanted to meet with the folks who are doing the roles to find out how we can achieve that.”
There were two consultations with student leaders at UTM, both held last month. According to McGartland-Kinsella, while all Ulife- recognized student clubs and organizations were invited to the consultations, a total of no more than five students participated in both sessions combined.
Overall, while participants wanted executive positions in student groups recognized on the CCR, McGartland-Kinsella said most of the student leaders didn’t want to be responsible for validating other students’ involvement in the groups. Instead, they preferred to have a faculty or staff member act as validator.
“Our challenge is deciding how to make that work, to ensure that those positions can be on the CCR but still be validated by a faculty or staff member,” she said.
She added that students also said they didn’t want every group and position recognized on the record.
“They wanted to recognize those students who are really putting in a lot of time and effort, instead of just ‘Hey, I attended one event. Therefore, this is on my record,’ ” she said.
Elias said another concern was the large number of groups that must be added to the CCR, noting that U of T has more than 800 groups across its three campuses.
McGartland-Kinsella elaborated on the importance of the project for encouraging student involvement and overall success in the workplace.
“At such an academically focused institution […] it’s great that the university is supportive of co-curricular engagement,” she said, adding that students who are engaged on campus tend to get higher grades and are more likely to graduate.
She also mentioned that because the CCR’s structure involves skill development, the record would help students talk about their experiences on campus to future employers and graduate schools.
“We’ve often heard from employers that students are coming into these interviews with wonderful experience, but lack the skills to talk about it. […]
“One of the main hopes is that the CCR will give students that language to be able to talk about their experiences in a meaningful way,” said McGartland-Kinsella.
According to her, the tri-campus CCR implementation group, a working group that includes faculty and staff members, will meet at the end of March to discuss the feedback, and hopes to implement changes to the CCR by September.
“We are still finalizing a process and wrapping up consultations,” said Elias, adding that students can still provide comments and suggestions through email.
“We would like to start encouraging student groups to apply for CCR recognition as early as the end of March. This process will be ongoing and continue throughout the summer and into the fall,” she said.
The co-curricular record was given a light launch with 450 registered activities this year after over two years of planning. In October, Elias said to expect a total of 4,000 by next September.