The Partner: The Ebb and Flow of Community

By Shannon Loewen, Residence Life Director at Tyndale University College & Seminary

Community is always the key phrase when talking about residence. Everyone wants a good community. It is what brings the residents back year after year. A year ago our community shifted. We expected it but did not know in what ways it would change. We saw a decline in participation, the halls were quiet and everyone was in their rooms. We had lost our “doors open” atmosphere, both literally and figuratively. With a simple statement from the fire department, our community changed. Residents were no longer allowed to have their dorm room doors propped opened. We had worked through all the logistics and policies with this change, but did not anticipate how it would affect our community.dorm_hall1

Walking through the hallways with shiny linoleum floors and closed doors made the space feel sterile and uninviting. You could not hear the life coming from the rooms, music intermingling with the laughter and slow hum of conversation throughout the dorms. What we discovered was an opportunity to change our cultural norm. The Residence team switched their views on their environment and began to treat their space more like an apartment building. Where so many people live their lives without knowing their neighbours, choosing only to connect with those they were familiar with.

We wanted to break the mold, transform the culture we found ourselves in. We had to think of ways to draw people out of their worlds and into a space that would excite them to be a part of a greater community. With this new focus the Residence team set out to transform their community.

We recognized that when someone is invested in something they are more likely to follow through, to participate and bring along friends. So we started with a block party. The Resident Assistants (RA’s) worked with their dorm to transform their hallway into a space with a unique theme that residents could come and mingle in; it was a huge hit. Returning residents said it was one of the best events they had been to. The success of the event also energized the residence team and helped spur the next team on to a positive cultural change.

One of the other aspects of our growing community is the increase in students who have more severe anxiety and mental health issues. The RA’s not only try to build a positive atmosphere but are the first to help residents through their dark moments. This led us to move to having two RA’s per dorm. Not only would this help spread the stressful times out, but it would also increase our residence team number. This means more energy, more creative ideas, and the manpower to pull off the grand ideas.

The environment that people live also plays a role in how they interact with others. In a sterile, cold space people tend to be cold and sterile. One of the RA’s had suggested carpeting the linoleum hallways. They had noticed that in the dorm wings that had carpet residents could be seen sitting in the hall together hanging out. The linoleum halls were too sterile and uncomfortable and did not provide a space that was inviting to residents.

A healthy, vibrant community requires intention, hard work, and perseverance. There is no perfect formula to creating the best community. Each year a new mix of people enter the dorms bringing their own personalities, problems, and energy. However, we have found some things to be true no matter who you are. People want to belong and they will invest when they feel have a stake in it.

The residence team meets weekly and part of that meeting is talking about the pulse of the community. We try to figure out what is going well and what we can do better and how to get the residents to participate. We continue to assess the residence and how we can continue to help foster a healthy, vibrant community among our residents.

Manitoba Regional Meeting – 2016

On October 27th, 2016 Providence University College hosted the 2016-2017 Manitoba CACSD Regional Conference. Seventeen Student Development professionals from Steinbach Bible College, Canadian Mennonite University and Providence University College were present for a day of fellowship, re-centering and professional development.

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We began our day with a devotional time led by Jessy Fehr and Carla Ackerman (SBC), followed by lunch and tours of Providence’s new spaces. Our afternoon included a conversation around the topic of Healthy Student Sexuality, hosted by Sandra Loeppky and Charlie Peronto. We finished our day with a roundtable, during which we discussed how to more effectively communicate information to students as well as the tabling of the Manitoba Provincial Government’s “Bill 15: The Sexual Violence Awareness and Prevention Act” and what it will mean for our institutions. This bill will require all post-secondary institutions in Manitoba to have appropriate policies, procedures and educational opportunities in place to prevent and respond to sexual violence on campus.

Our connections throughout the day were both refreshing and informative. It is always a blessing to be reminded that you are not alone in your efforts to serve students well and to gain a renewed sense of purpose in the work you’re doing for the Kingdom. We look forward to next year’s Regional Conference to be hosted by Steinbach Bible College.

PARTNER: Recommended Summer Reads

by Greg Veltman

I’ve read a few books over the last 6 months that I would highly recommend to Student Development professionals.  Here I provide a brief recommendation, including their length.

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Big Questions, Worthy Dreams: Mentoring Emerging Adults in their Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Faith – Sharon Daloz Parks (Long read)

This newly updated classic follows student development theory to lay out the how and why of higher education institutions ability to be a mentoring environment for students on their journey towards a robust faith.

 

 

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Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious – David Dark (Medium read)

Dark lays out the case for the religiosity in all of life and suggests that we try to practice good religion rather than bad religion, through a poetic and reflective way of life, rather than the harsh logic we assume religion must be.

 

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Roadmap to Reconciliation: Moving Communities into Unity, Wholeness and Justice – Barbara Salter McNeil (Short read)

As Christians, we cannot ignore racial injustice in our world, and we cannot live on the assumptions that reconciliation is easy. It is more a matter of changing our hearts than changing our minds. McNeil offers a model for persisting on the journey.

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Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True FlourishingAndy Crouch (Short read)

Crouch proposes a model in which Christians find the balance between having authority and being vulnerable, rather than the either/or that offers a false view of success. Good leadership is authority and vulnerability.

 

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You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit – James K.A. Smith (Medium read)

Smith applies his philosophy of embodied learning to spiritual formation and discipleship, with many higher education examples to help us rethink how we teach students to be Christian.

Alberta CACSD regional meeting

by Joy Ulrich (Director of Career Services, Ambrose University)

IMG_3481On March 16th 2016 Ambrose University hosted the Southern Alberta CACSD Regional Meeting, inviting all Student Development professionals from faith-based institutions to gather together for a day of sharing and learning. There were 22 participants from 6 institutions (Ambrose University, Alberta Bible College, Prairie College, Burman University, The King’s University, and Rocky Mountain College).

The agenda for the day was kept simple with school and area updates in the morning and round table discussions in the afternoon.  Lunch was served in the cafeteria and many participated in school & residence tours afterwards. The discussions were focused around topic areas and involved idea, experience and information exchanges between the participants, facilitated by a table leader. The topics included:

IMG_3491 Student Tracking Systems (Alison Exner)

 Spiritual Formations (Terry Fach)

 Residential Issues & Concerns (Shannon Weiss)

 Student Success/Engagement (Lisa Moran)

 Mental Health: using psychological assessments with students (Cory Pytlarz)

 Career & Employment Services (Joy Ulrich)

 Addressing students use of pornography & masturbation (Van Williams)

 Supporting students with disabilities (Andrea Hensen)

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It was a day filled with re-connections with colleagues and significant conversations. It reminded us that we are all in kingdom work serving God and students; seeking to bring life, wholeness and wellness into our respective institutions.

The event ended with Prairie College volunteering to host the 2017 CACSD Regional Meeting, were we hope to see even more of our student development co-workers.

Manitoba CACSD regional meeting

by Sandra Loeppky

img_4045_0254On February 25, 2016 fifteen student life staff from Providence University College, Steinbach Bible College, Canadian Mennonite University and Booth University College gathered at CMU for what has become the annual regional CACSD meeting in Manitoba. The day began with coffee, goodies and conversation as any good student life gathering should begin. Sarah Lageer and Melanie Ward (Providence) led the group in thoughtful group exercise and reflection on Christ’s calling on us during Lent. After lunch, Charlie Peronto and Sandra Loeppky (CMU) facilitated a group discussion about selection and training of student leaders. The day closed with Patrick Friesen (SBC) sharing some of his thoughts and teaching on ‘Social Media Decentralization in Student Development’.

The day was full of lively conversation and connection which is energizing and encouraging as we approach the end of another academic year.  For those of you in other provinces who are in close proximity to other CACSD institutions, I want to highly encourage you to pursue regional meetings in your area.  Taking the time out of your busy schedule to plan and attend another meeting can seem daunting but the refreshment that can happen when you reconnect with your colleagues is almost as good as a vacation!

2016 Conference Schedule

 
Full Conference program

Monday, May 30, 2016

2:00 p.m.      Registration Opens (campus arrivals are welcome any                                           time of day)  

5:00 p.m.      Campus Tour

6:30 p.m.     Dinner (Dining Hall)

8:00 p.m.     Welcome and Worship

9:00 p.m.     Conversation in the Courtyard (Dessert Reception)

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

8:30-9:30 a.m. Breakfast (Dining Hall)

10:00 a.m.     Worship

10:30 a.m.     Workshop I

12:00 pm      Lunch (Dining Hall)

1:30 p.m.      Plenary I (Keynote Speaker Steven Garber)

2:45 p.m.     Coffee Break           

3:00 p.m.     Plenary II (Keynote Speaker Steven Garber)

4:15 p.m.      Leave for Downtown Toronto via Subway

5:30 pm        Dinner Out on the Town

6:45 p.m.     Meet at Rogers Center

7:07 p.m.     Jays vs. Yankees

10:00pm      Approximate Return Time

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

8:30-9:30 a.m. Breakfast

9:45 a.m.        Plenary III (Keynote Speaker Steven Garber)

11:00 a.m.    Coffee Break

11:20 a.m.     Worship (Joining in with Tyndale’s Community                                                   Chapel, guest speaker Charles Price)                    

12:30 p.m.   Lunch (Dining Hall)

1:30 p.m.     Workshop II

2:30 p.m.     Coffee Break

2:45 p.m.     Workshop III

4:00 p.m.     CACSD Annual General Meeting                  

6:30 p.m.     Closing Banquet Dinner

8:00 p.m.     Evening Entertainment (Snakes & Lattes)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

9-10:00 a.m.   Continental Breakfast (Dining Hall)

10:30 a.m.       Worship, Speaker, and Communion Feast   

12:00 p.m.       Lunch (Dining Hall)

1:00 p.m.       Excursions

  1.      Golf
  2.      Ripley’s Aquarium
  3.      Walking tour of Chinatown & Kensington Market
  4.      Walking tour of the Distillery Historic District &                                                           St. Lawrence Market

John Krueger Travel Bursary

John Krueger was a dedicated student affairs professional, friend, and colleague who passed away on March 23, 2012; John was a cherished member of the Redeemer University College team for 23 years and a great friend and contributor to CACSD.

In honour of John’s legacy and passion for learning, desire to see growth in other professionals, and honour his contribution over the years to the development of professionals in CACSD, the John Krueger Travel Bursary was established in 2012 to assist CACSD members who present financial need and wish to attend our annual conference.

In order to support ongoing professional development through annual conference attendance, your executive has set aside funding for the John Krueger Travel Bursary and welcomes your application. Please submit your applications using this form by April 15. If you have any questions contact Andrea Hensen at andrea.hensen@amborse.edu