There is an evident desire among Student Affairs professionals in Canada to more effectively engage with one another as scholars and practitioners. This site, a collaboration between Ryerson Student Affairs and the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS), is a partial response to that desire. It started with the Ryerson Student Affairs blog, that was originally designed to build community between internal departments, share stories of its staff, and create a defined identity for this new division that had been created in 2012. The staff in Student Affairs were asked to prioritize storytelling using the new blog platform in their practice, and it was very successful at achieving its original goals. The byproduct of that internal success was that other institutions, within Canada, and internationally, started to pay attention to the narrative. Without knowing it, we had begun to shift our focus to tell stories that would be of interest to colleagues and peers beyond our institutional borders.
In 2016, Ryerson Student Affairs and CACUSS came together to organize a campaign titled, “Connecting Our Country.” This idea and its subsequent curriculum of blogs, twitter chats, and conference dialogues came from a widely acknowledged need for defined digital space in which Canadian Student Affairs professionals could engage with each other in nationally relevant discussions. As that campaign continued, there was evidence of a collective identity shift as we began to emphasize the need for more writing, more sharing of ideas, and more scholarship in Canadian Student Affairs.
As this networked community evolved, it further showcased the lack of a dedicated, open-access space for professionals to be able to share their writing, and other forms of creative and scholarly expression. There is no digital space that calls to our profession to create written content that will share our stories, and support us on our journey to incorporate scholarship into daily praxis.
But the Ryerson Student Affairs blog could not be a neutral home for publishing from across Canadian higher education. That voice became too loud, to the point of becoming noise, within the community it sought to support. And CACUSS, while broad in their mission and relationships, was hampered by the need to support itself through membership, and had limited resources to build and maintain such a space. To this end, we chose to work together to create a more open platform that could be used by professionals across Canada to tell the story of our field, and to help us publish, share stories, and conceptualize issues on a national scale.
So, welcome to the Student Affairs Exchange: a space created to nurture ideas and support Canadian Student Affairs scholarship & practice. With infrastructure powered by Ryerson Student Affairs, it is a consortium of professionals from institutions across Canada, working in partnership with CACUSS to provide this platform. And we hope you’ll join us in using it to share and amplify all our stories!
To learn more about CACUSS and get involved as a member, visit www.cacuss.ca