Sometimes, I wonder if there are other student affairs professionals in Canada.
I mean, I know they exist. I see the job postings, and I meet them at conferences. But in between these in-person sightings… are they out there?
I’m very confident there are other student affairs professionals in the U.S. I see them on social media all the time. I see them forming relationships, sharing information, talking about how current events are affecting their life. When large, earth-shattering events happen, the student affairs conversations happen. People ask questions, provide resources, state opinions. They ask ‘How do we do better? How do we talk about this with our students? How do we help our students through this event?’ Ferguson, Black Lives Matter, Brock Turner, Orlando, the list goes on. The conversations go on.
Where are the Canadian conversations?
Where were we when the #BlackLivesMatter movement hit Canada? When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its findings? When Jian Ghomeshi was acquitted? All I heard was silence.
Where are we, day-to-day, as free tuition is announced in Ontario, legislation is introduced surrounding the issue of sexual violence, mental health becomes more and more of an issue?
We’re silent on the social issue movements happening all around us. We’re silent on high profile court cases that affect our students. We’re silent on changes to government policies and laws that affect our everyday work.
Seriously. Where are the Canadian conversations?
A few weeks ago, Adam Kuhn, Director, Student and Campus Community Development at the University of Toronto, launched a podcast he is calling RelaySA, in which he interviews a different Canadian student affairs professional every week. Within less than 24 hours, of tweeting out the podcast, over 200 people had listened.
— Adam Kuhn (@AdamKuhn) June 8, 2016
Last week, Adam Kuhn (again) and John Austin, Executive Director of Student Affairs at Ryerson University, hosted a session at the annual CACUSS conference called ‘The Peruse’, in which (as far as I can tell via Twitter), they asked a number of tough questions and facilitated critical conversations on topics that matter. Twitter photos show the session being very full, and the hashtag #cacussperuse was even trending at one point.
There is not only a need for more Canadian student affairs content and conversation, but as the two above examples indicate, there is also a desire.
We need to find ways to do better, to be better. Ways to talk, to debate, to grow, and to be critical. We need to start creating the Canadian conversations. I don’t have a solution here, but I do want to, well, start the conversation.
One person can’t do this. It takes all of us. It takes you.
Will you start talking?