SA Storytelling creates opportunities for students to tell their own stories, in their own way – writing, film-making, photography, social media, graphic design, digital storytelling, research, podcasting, etc. – to illuminate what Patrick Lewis describes as “…the thing in the shadows, that something else which is found only in the archaeology of the story”. For students who have something to say about their experience, SA Storytelling is here to help bring that to life so that students can be heard, their experience can be enriched in the process, and other students, faculty, and staff can learn from what they hear.
"We believe there are student stories to be told at TMU, stories that help illuminate the varieties and often hidden features of the student experience."
How can we create connections?
There is a challenge, on a commuter campus, to create conditions for student belonging, connectedness, engagement after class is over. Students are online, so it’s clear we need to engage with them there, in meaningful, well-informed, and responsible ways, not to facilitate mere connection, but learning, through connection.
What do we want to broadcast?
We often seem perplexed by the common refrain from students about being unaware of the available campus resources. But it’s not so perplexing. In a firehose of information that is university life, one must apply filters. So, we need to be nimble and creative in our efforts to reach students and let them know about what’s here for them – to connect students to each other and to the campus resources, to raise awareness of important issues, ways they can become involved or be supported, to tell the success stories, to show a wide audience the good work we are doing so that everyone can benefit. Our approach to marketing and promotion must be thoughtful and responsive.
What do we want to know?
Student Affairs folks are practitioners. We do things. But we also need to engage in scholarship so that we can evolve and ground our work in deep understanding of things. This is a central dimension of Special Projects/Storytelling work - digging in deeply to the kinds of questions that drive our work, attempting to reveal the student experience, building our capacity to engage in Student Affairs scholarship, exploring less-traditional forms of inquiry, involving students in this work, reading and discussing those readings, collaborating with SA colleagues, faculty, and others to create new knowledge and then share what we learn. This is essential and we want to be leaders in this regard.
What do we want to tell?
Always, at the root of our thinking in Student Affairs is the question: are we making a positive difference in the lives of students? In collaboration with the Assessment Committee, and led by our assessment specialist, we seek to establish a firm footing for all of RyersonSA to engage in meaningful program assessment – define meaningful outcomes (while avoiding the perils of that approach), support meaningful ways to assess the extent to which those outcomes are met, analyze data, tell those stories, and iterate. These are stories about the work we do, and how we can articulate how and why it supports the goal of improving student lives (or doesn’t), so all of this will involve thoughtfully establishing a brave culture of assessment at RyersonSA and the competencies that attend that.
What do we want to make?
This is the work of making beautiful things in Student Affairs – tangible things like artefacts, resources, websites, posters, films, graphics, – a way to meaningfully advance educational goals by attending to the aesthetic dimension of those enterprises. But also intangible things, like programs and learning experiences where we can support the effective and sophisticated and nuanced design of instruction, of curriculum, of educational interventions, to bring principles of design into the thoughtful making of beautiful educational events.
What we offer and give to students by way of great design is a better experience at TMU. Thoughtful design leads to better marketing materials, more impactful events, and memorable student experiences. There is meaning behind every design decision made from the colour and placement of elements on a poster to the way in which students enter an event or the structure of the events programming. These many things ultimately are decided answering one question - will this have a positive or negative impact on the student experience?