Tag Archives: students

Division of Students Highlights of 2018

On behalf of the Division of Students at York University, happy holidays to our community of students, staff and faculty! We wish you all a restful, wonderful winter break and a happy, healthy 2019.

As we finish off the exam period and look forward to the next term, it is a good time to reflect on all the great work that has been accomplished this past year.

The Opening of the Wellness Hub

York University’s Health Education & Promotion team officially opened the Wellness Hub in September, offering drop-in support, resources and referrals to students, staff and faculty on all aspects of wellness, including nutritional, sexual and mental health.

Located in the Ross-Vari Link at S107 Ross Building, the Wellness Hub is staffed by a team of peer health educators and student nurses who are using this experiential education opportunity to bridge their classroom knowledge with practice to complete their community placement requirement.

The Opening of the Centre for Sexual Violence Response, Support & Education

Earlier this year the Division was proud to announce the opening of the Centre for Sexual Violence Response, Support & Education (The Centre) at 301 York Lanes. The York community was invited to meet the team during an Open House in October, tour The Centre and learn more about support networks, the Sexual Violence Policy and current initiatives such as training & education at York. The beautiful new office overlooks the Harry W. Arthur Common and provides a calming physical space where survivors and all those affected by sexual violence receive compassionate services with dignity, privacy and respect.

Debbie Hansen, Executive Director, Community Support & Services, explains that “the Sexual Violence Response Office was created as a result of the Policy on Sexual Violence. We support the entire York community. Our biggest focus is creating awareness: to communicate with our community about who we are, what we do and how we support survivors.”

New Vision and New Initiatives from Student Accessibility Services and Student Counselling & Development

In late 2017, Learning Disability Services , Mental Health Disability Services and Physical, Sensory & Medical Disability Services  were collectively renamed “Student Accessibility Services” (SAS) and Personal Counselling Services was renamed  “Student Counselling & Development” (SCD).

York’s decision to focus on these two support pillars emphasized the significant role of SAS in helping to make the campus more accessible for learning. The name change to Student Counselling & Development better reflects our mandate to help York students realize, develop and fulfill their personal potential in order to maximally benefit from their university experience and manage the challenges of university life.

SCD holds free workshops open to all York University students with no registration required. Some run individually, such as Stress Management, and some run in a series of three to four workshops, like Managing Shyness & Social Anxiety. Each workshop takes place in a professional and supportive environment where students receive guidance as they navigate through any personal student development.

#HeartOfALion Rebrand and a New Mascot

In August, hundreds of York University students, staff and faculty made their way to York Lions Stadium for the celebration of “the next era of athletics and recreation at York.”

The event, #HeartOfALion Day, brought the campus community together for the official unveiling of the new Lions logo that features a sleek and fierce-looking lion head in York’s signature red. Also unveiled was the new Lions mascot, Yeo, whose name was picked by students in an online contest. The name pays homage to our first mascot “Yeoey” the Yeoman. The event also featured students modelling the new line of branded clothing.

The new branding and image was more than a year and a half in the making and the York community was consulted throughout the process. One of the key contributing factors to the new logo was the question “What does it mean to be a Lion?” in a pan-University context.

The common attributes of a Lion, they found, were: being open and accepting of everyone in the “pride”; being courageous, persevering and standing up for what you believe in; having the heart of a lion; and being a leader.

Ready, Set, YU!

The Ready, Set, YU! program began in September, 2018 to support the participation and success of new students who, without specialized interventions and support, would not otherwise access or attend postsecondary education.

Ready, Set, YU! employs work/study students as peer mentors who hone their leadership skills by helping other students be successful and give back to the York community. The project is funded under the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development’s Ontario Post-secondary Access and Inclusion Program (OPAIP) funding initiative.

Peer Teams to Support Students with Financial Services, Careers and Learning Skills

In 2018, we launched three peer programs to support students with learning skills (LSS), financial services (SFS) and careers.

SFS peers are student leaders on campus who are trained by Student Financial Services to provide students assistance with Financial Aid inquiries (Scholarships & Bursaries, Student Accounts, and OSAP). Key areas the SFS Peers can help with:

  • OSAP (full time and part-time student loans and repayment)
  • Scholarships, awards and bursaries (how to apply)
  • Student Account (how to read monthly statement)
  • Budgeting and saving on interest
  • Out-of-province financial aid and US loans

Our new Career Peer Educator program at the Career Centre. A team of highly-trained, resourceful and friendly Career Peer Educators were brought together to help develop the skills and mindset to navigate a student’s career journey as well as support career-related inquiries including:

  • Resume & Cover Letters
  • Job Searching & Networking
  • Interview Skills & Preparation
  • LinkedIn: Building a Profile & Job Searching
  • Exploring What You Can do With Your Degree
  • Resources at the Career Centre and on Campus
  • Navigating the Career Centre Website

Learning Skills peer team offer drop-in services help undergraduate and graduate students achieve their academic goals by teaching them how to manage their time, how to study and learn more effectively, as well as keep up with readings and course work to get the most out of their studies.

YU START Reaches 9000+ Students and Opens to Parents

This year York’s New Student Transition Program, YU START was bigger and louder than ever with over 9,000 students participating. This year the program was also open to parents and family with a range of new services to help parents and families of students during their transition to University.

Once again, the Division of Students wishes everyone in the York community a relaxing and safe winter break! Please note that the University will be closed from December 22, 2018 to January 1, 2019. Administrative offices re-open January 2 and classes resume January 3.

Comfort food for the York community – Division of Students Cup-of-Soup Event for United Way

You’re invited to enjoy a hot cup of soup & roll while supporting the United Way!

As the days get shorter and your thoughts turn to keeping warm while the rain falls, it’s good to know that on Friday, November 9 you’ll be able to wrap your hands around a steaming cup of soup and a roll – for just $3!

Lucy Fromowitz, Vice-Provost Students, along with teams from the Division of Students, will be serving warm comfort food in support of the York Cares United Way campaign. Connecting our staff with our students and listening to their diverse perspectives is a cornerstone of our values as a Division and there is no better way to interact with students than over an affordable, hearty lunch as the season turns into winter.

The cup-of-soup event is an opportunity for staff to engage with students and each other away from “the office” in a casual atmosphere. Soup-lovers can choose from a cup of vegetarian, chicken noodle or cream of vegetable soup and roll (plain, wheat, multigrain) for only $3.

Date: Friday, November 9, 2018

Time: Noon to 2pm

Two Locations:

Main Floor Lobby, Bennett Centre for Student Services (interactive map)

Beside the Central Square Cafeteria (interactive map)

The VP Students Cup-of-Soup event is just one of the United Way events planned for November. For more information about York’s campaign, visit the York Cares United Way Campaign website. Visit the United Way of Greater Toronto website to learn more about the people who will benefit from the money raised.

Come on out for a cup of soup & roll – warm your hands, your heart and the hearts of others.

Check back next week for photos from the event!

A #YUBlog Guide to Celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day

This is a re-post of a #YUBlog post published June 21, 2018.

On Thursday, June 21st, celebrations will take place across Canada in the name of National Indigenous Peoples Day. Some may be Powwows, others may be bustling Indigenous pop-up street markets and others may offer the opportunity to adorn First Nations-made beaded earrings. There are many ways to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day — however, many Canadians may not understand what this day is, why it is needed and how to appropriately celebrate the occasion.

For this post, the #YUBlog has partnered with York University’s Centre for Aboriginal Student Services (CASS) and Larissa Crawford, Indigenous Student Transitions Coordinator at CASS, to develop a special-edition guide to National Indigenous Peoples Day! CASS provides York U Indigenous students, staff and faculty with culturally appropriate services and supports and works with the York University community to Indigenize York University spaces. We hope this guide will give you some insight into National Indigenous Peoples Day and help you celebrate!

An image of the CASS entrance.
You can visit the Centre for Aboriginal Student Services in room 246 York Lanes on the Keele Campus!

What is National Indigenous Peoples Day?

June 21 was chosen to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day because it corresponds with the summer solstice, the longest day of the year and a time that many Indigenous groups have traditionally celebrated culture and heritage. In 1996, the Governor General of Canada proclaimed that the federal government will recognize National Aboriginal Day on this date. In 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the symbolic renaming of the holiday to “National Indigenous Peoples Day,” coinciding with the preferred term to refer to the original inhabitants of what we now know as Canada.

You’ll often see a generic explanation of National Indigenous Peoples Day as a time for all Canadians to celebrate the cultures of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples and their contributions to Canada. However, this idea only reflects half of its purpose: National Indigenous Peoples Day also recognizes Canada’s colonial history, the contemporary issues and realities of Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous futurism.

An image of the interior CASS office.
If you have any questions about CASS, you can contact them at 416-736-5571!

Why is it Important to Have National Indigenous Peoples Day?

It is important to celebrate Indigenous contributions to Canada, and to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures of Indigenous Peoples. What many Canadians do not realize is that there are many nations of Indigenous People in Canada: there is no one “Indigenous perspective”, universal Indigenous beliefs or style of art and dance. National Indigenous Peoples Day is an opportunity to learn about and celebrate the unique Indigenous People in your community or region!

However, to choose only to celebrate certain aspects and contributions of Indigenous Peoples can actually do more harm than good. If we decide to ignore colonial legacies and only recognize the beautiful artwork or ceremony of Indigenous People, then not only do we erase their harsh historical and contemporary realities, but we fail to recognize the resiliency and strength it took to keep Indigenous cultures and people alive (which only makes everything worth celebrating all that more impressive and inspiring).

A photo of a Thunderbird carved across two doors in the CASS office.
CASS is home to “Strength of Thunderbird”, a beautiful art piece by Jay Bell Redbird.

We can’t change the past; however, we can be honest and educate ourselves so that history does not repeat itself . . . Through a sense of hope, we can develop a path forward together, as our ancestors intended.” – Georgina Jolibois, 2017

What Resources Can I Use to Learn about Indigenous Peoples?

National Indigenous Peoples Day offers everyone an opportunity to deepen their understanding and awareness of the adversities Indigenous People face and have overcome. With the efforts to Indigenize and improve relations with Indigenous People following the Calls to Action released by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), culturally appropriate resources and information are readily accessible (and comprehensive) for all Canadians.

With this increased access, the excuse of ignorance is becoming less and less acceptable. However, we at CASS recognize that it can be daunting: not all resources are created equally or appropriately, and with so much information, where do you even begin? Recognizing this, here are a few resources to enhance your understanding of Indigenous history and lived realities:

  • Approved TRC resources
  • “Solving the ‘Indian Problem’: Assimilation Laws, Practices and Indian Residential Schools” (PDF): A brief history of institutionalized genocide and assimilation.
  • Groundwork for Change: An information source geared toward non-Indigenous people that serves as a one stop shop for reliable information. This can help people learn about historical and contemporary issues related to Indigenous peoples and relationships with non-Indigenous governments and peoples in the Canadian state.
  • Indigenous Canada Online Course (University of Alberta): A 12-lesson online course facilitated out of the University of Alberta that, from an Indigenous perspective, explores key issues facing Indigenous peoples today from a historical and critical perspective, highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations.
  • Canadian Roots Exchange: A youth-led non-profit organization that seeks to connect Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth through exchanges, the Youth Reconciliation Initiative and a national conference.
  • Mapping Indigenous Languages in Canada: An eye-opening article mapping “[Canada’s] Indigenous linguistic landscape” and the regions in which these languages are spoken today.
A photo of a floral beaded painting by Christi Belcourt.
You can’t miss this stunning piece of artwork created by Métis (Otipemisiwak) artist Christi Belcourt in the CASS office!

How do You Know You’re Celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day Appropriately?

So you’ve committed to broadening your understanding of National Indigenous Peoples Day, Indigenous history, contemporary realities and Indigenous culture. You may have explored a few of the resources above and had a conversation or two with some Indigenous friends and colleagues. Now, how do you spend National Indigenous Peoples Day, and how do you know you’re doing it in a way that is respectful?

Here are some considerations to ask yourself and some steps to take before and while celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day:

  • Learn some language! Just as a responsible and courteous traveller learns some basic language skills before immersing themself in a culture and place that is not familiar, so should Canadians learn Indigenous languages. There is a nation-wide push for Indigenous language revitalization and for some to even be recognized as an official language. If this became the case, more than just Indigenous people would have to speak it, right? In the short term, you could take the time and respectfully learn a few greeting and parting words. To learn more about Indigenous language revitalization and languages of Ontario, visit Ontario Investing in Indigenous Language Revitalization.
  • Know whose land you’re on. If you are non-Indigenous, you are occupying land that is being colonized. To have a greater understanding of the original caregivers and history of the land, visit Whose Land. Whose Land is an educational tool and interactive map that is useful for understanding Indigenous treaties and communities across Canada and includes videos of appropriate land acknowledgments.
  • Understand what allyship can look like to Indigenous people. You can find an outline of allyship and an ally’s responsibilities in the Ally Bill of Responsibilities (PDF) by Dr. Lynn Gehl, an Anishinaabe-kwe scholar. This is important to review if you’re concerned about practicing allyship appropriately.
  • Understand that it is not the job of Indigenous People to teach you. Métis/Irish author, Melanie Lefebrve, wrote, “If you don’t have time to educate yourself, then I can’t help you”, in the article, “It’s Not My Job to Teach You about Indigenous People. You should not expect that all Indigenous People are experts on all things Indigenous or that they have the time and energy to teach you.
  • Support Indigenous businesses and services. There are many Indigenous businesses and services across Toronto and the GTA that would benefit from your business and shopping with them can be a great way to support Indigenous people. Visit the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Businesses’ Membership Directory to find an array of Indigenous businesses from across Canada (search by province, name or sector).
  • Know the protocol. Take the time before going to Powwows or Indigenous ceremonies to understand the protocol, whether that be by researching or kindly asking a volunteer or worker once you’ve arrived. Read the CBC’s article, “A Guide to Taking Your Family to a Powwow for the First Time” for some Powwow protocol.
A photo of a quilt on a wall with a large Medicine Wheel on it.
When you walk into CASS, you’ll see this beautiful Medicine Wheel quilt on the wall!

Are There Any Other National Indigenous Peoples Day Celebrations I Can Attend?

If you’re in the Greater Toronto Area and are interested in attending National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations throughout the week, take a look at a few of these events:

  • If you’re in Brampton, the National Indigenous Peoples Day at Garden Square will be taking place on Thursday, June 21 from 12:30pm to 1:30pm and 6pm to 8:30pm.
  • The Toronto Zoo’s National Indigenous Peoples Day event will take place on Thursday, June 21 and will feature Indigenous music, art, vendors and speakers. Free admission will be provided to Aboriginal peoples with the presentation of a status card, Métis card or an Inuit Health Branch Client Identification Number (N-Number).
  • Visit the Indigenous Arts Festival taking place between Thursday, June 21 and Sunday, June 24 at Fort York. The event includes education days and public festivals!
  • Attend the Na-Me-Res Annual Powwow on Saturday, June 23 at Fort York starting at noon EST.
  • Go to APTN Indigenous Day Live on Saturday, June 23 at Fort York starting at 5pm EST and catch some of the most recognized entertainers in Indigenous music and television!
  • The Native Canadian Centre of Toronto is having an Indigenous History Month Celebration taking place on Wednesday, June 27, from noon to 8pm EST in Dundas Square. The event is free.

Searching keywords such as “National Indigenous Peoples Day [place of interest] 2018” on Google will provide you with a great selection of events taking place across Toronto and the GTA!

How will you honour National Indigenous Peoples Day? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @YorkUStudents!

This #YUBlog post was written by Larissa Crawford. Larissa is a graduating undergraduate student from the International Development Studies and Communication Studies programs and the Indigenous Student Transitions Coordinator at CASS. She identifies as Métis-Jamaican and contributes actively to her communities through her Indigenous and anti-racism policy work and research. Larissa regularly delivers speeches and workshops to youth and professionals across Canada on a variety of topics and is most often accompanied by her 1-year-old daughter, Zyra.

Please note that the banner image for this blog post features the artwork of Métis (Otipemisiwak) artist Christi Belcourt.

Connecting with students who might benefit from Student Accessibility Services

Today’s blog post features a guest contribution from Teaching Commons @ York by Raymond Peart, ASD Coordinator at York University. 

York University is committed to providing the student community with an accessible learning environment and offers innovative programs and services to help all students achieve their academic goals. York University is proud to support the new Strengthening Transitions for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders initiative that supports students with ASD (including Asperger’s) in their transition from high school into a postsecondary program. If you are a York Faculty member, it is important to be familiar with the learning support resources available to you and your students at York University.

Integrated support services are provided through the Strengthening Transitions for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders program for the full calendar year, starting in high school, as early as grade 10. Services range from individual, group and community resources. These services include, but are not limited to, mentorship programs, workshops and support groups as well as one-to-one coaching, parent information hubs, sensory spaces, therapy dogs and paid Work/Study opportunities. Programming is open to future and current students, as well as their families and communities.

This collaborative initiative is supported by York University, Seneca College, the Toronto District School Board, the York Catholic District School Board and the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development.

Image by York University
Reach out to Student Accessibility Services if you have concerns about the best way to support a student.

As Faculty at York University, you observe significant differences in development, ability, presentation of skills, social interaction, communication and behaviour among students within your classroom.  Your experience has enabled you to develop a clear perspective on characteristics within the classroom that can be considered typical. Additionally, with the experience you have gained, you may observe that a student may present with variations from the rest of the class that are significant.  Some of these variations may cause:

  • you to consider and stop to think about what you are seeing;
  • persisting disruptions and problems.

While some situations might be easy to determine, other situations may be subtler and/or difficult to explain.  Consequently, there may be times when you don’t know what to do. When you have concerns about a student in this situation, it may be helpful to reach out to Student Accessibility Services (SAS) with your query.

Image by York University
Review these guidelines to determine how to best assist students.

For more information about the Strengthening Transitions for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, please visit: http://asd-initiative.yorku.ca/ or contact Raymond Peart at  rpeart@yorku.ca, 416-736-5383.

Fall Reading Week Returns to York University

Between the new subway station, the construction of a new student centre and the expansion of the Schulich School of Business on campus, York University has some significant changes on the horizon. One such change directly benefits students: York’s Senate has passed a student-led proposal to reinstate a full Fall Reading Week beginning October 2018.

The final proposal to amend the Senate Policy on Sessional Dates and the Scheduling of Final Examinations was brought before Senate in October 2017, where it was passed with full support. The decision to schedule two full-length Reading Weeks is in response to the needs of students and is intended to support academic success and student wellness by providing a more effective study/revision period.

Image by York University
York University will reinstate a full Fall Reading Week in October 2018.

Supporting Student Initiatives

There are many benefits to having a full Fall Reading Week. Students will have more time to prepare for midterms, complete important assignments and prepare for the remaining assignments in the term. The driving force behind the longer break, however, was to help students balance their academic progress with awareness of health and wellness. With a few extra days to revise during the Fall term, students will have more opportunities to access key academic support services and decompress, easing academic strain. York University places a high emphasis on supporting student health and wellness, which is integral to their academic success.

Carol Altilia, Registrar of York University, spoke about the significance of the move towards a full Fall Reading Week: “Supporting this student-led initiative underscores the importance that the Division of Students places on partnering with students to advance their matters of concern and emphasizes the University’s commitment to supporting student wellbeing and mental health.”

Image by York University
The full-length Fall Reading Week will provide students with additional opportunities to study, access key academic support services and achieve work-life balance by focusing on their wellbeing.

The impact of the change includes a number of adjustments to Orientation scheduling and modifying the means by which the study day between the end of classes and the first day of exams will be provided to all students. For more information regarding York University important dates, visit the Registrar’s Office website.

Student Accessibility Services: Announcing organization changes to better support the learning, mental health & wellness needs of our students

York University provides students with a range of health and wellness resources to create a healthy, inclusive and supportive environment that fosters well-being among members of the York community and contributes to students’ academic success. Lucy Fromowitz, Vice-Provost Students, and Dr. Marc Wilchesky, Executive Director, Counselling & Disability Services, are pleased to announce the following organization changes to better serve the needs of York U students.

Image by York University
Personal Counselling Services will be renamed Student Counselling & Development (SCD).

Effective immediately, Learning Disability Services (LDS), Mental Health Disability Services (MHDS) and Physical, Sensory & Medical Disability Services (PSMDS) will be collectively renamed “Student Accessibility Services” (SAS) and Personal Counselling Services will now be called “Student Counselling & Development” (SCD). These changes will help students and the University community easily identify the appropriate support provider for students’ specific needs. Note that the Glendon campus will continue to provide health, wellness and accessibility services on that campus under the current name of The Accessibility, Well-Being & Counselling (AWC) Centre.

Maureen Barnes, current manager of Learning Disability Services, will assume the role of Director, Student Accessibility Services to ensure an efficient and effective transition of York’s three separate accessibility service units into one department that will deliver consistent and transparent services to students. Karen Swartz and Mark Mingail will continue in their current leadership roles in SAS. Polly MacFarlane, current director of Personal Counselling Services, will assume the role of Director, Student Counselling & Development.

Image by York University
York provides a range of health, wellness and academic resources to support student success.

The realignment of SAS includes developing a new communications plan to help all members of the York community differentiate between accessibility services (learning; mental health; and physical, sensory and medical) and counselling services. Although SAS will no longer use the various unit names (Learning Disability Services, Mental Health Disability Services and Physical, Sensory & Medical Disability Services), each of those teams will remain intact and will continue to support students as they do currently.

York’s decision to position the two support pillars – Student Accessibility Services (SAS) and Student Counselling & Development (SCD) – is in keeping with an ongoing transition throughout the postsecondary education sector in both Canada and the United States. Current scholarship and industry practice points to a shift away from the use of the term “disability” when describing services and resources toward the more inclusive term “accessibility.” The name change to Student Accessibility Services emphasizes the significant role of the accessibility unit in helping to make the campus more accessible for learning. The name change to Student Counselling & Development better reflects their mandate to help York students realize, develop and fulfill their personal potential in order to maximally benefit from their university experience and manage the challenges of university life.

These organization changes, in turn, support and align with the Division of Students’ vision – to be Partners in Student Success.

Changes will roll out gradually in digital and print communications over the next month and be complete by the New Year.

For more information about Student Accessibility Services visit: yorku.ca/accessibility-services

For more information about Student Counselling & Development visit: yorku.ca/student-counselling

“All Together Now” — York hosts the 2017 Ontario Academic Advising Professionals (OAAP) Conference

Today marks the first day of the 2017 Ontario Academic Advising Professionals (OAAP) Conference at York University’s Keele Campus! Hosted over the next day and a half – October 26 to October 27 – the conference welcomes delegates from colleges and universities across Ontario to discuss developments in academic advising. Notable keynote speaker and York alumnus, Tim Cork, will jumpstart the discussion with an inspiring welcome, followed by 27 workshop sessions developed and led by advising and student services practitioners from across the province.

The conference theme “All Together Now” represents the OAAP’s focus on collaborative, inter-institutional learning and the development of integrated and holistic advising practices that will benefit students. Conference attendees will learn about developments in academic advising that will enhance the student experience, including innovations in mental health and wellness, integrating theory into advising practice, models of advising service delivery, communities of practice and advising techniques and approaches.

Image by York U
York academic advisors prepare for the 2017 OAAP Conference.

The 2017 OAAP Conference was conceptualized and planned by York’s very own academic advising community. Over the past few years, York’s advisors have been coming together as a community to discuss issues, leading practice and to share in advising professional development. Some notable outcomes of working together have been the establishment of a University-wide advising professional development competency framework, the launch of a series of professional development opportunities tailored to advisor needs and an annual internal advising conference.

Academic advisors: We warmly welcome you to York University and hope you are ready to delve into insightful presentations and engage in discussions around how together we can strengthen advising practice in Ontario!

image by york u
A York academic advisor helps plan the 2017 OAAP conference.

The OAAP is dedicated to positively impacting the educational experience of postsecondary students in Ontario and provides academic advisors with professional development opportunities to learn about new strategies to improve and enrich the student experience.

York University announces a new student award in honour of Invictus Games

York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton welcomed the Invictus Games National Flag Tour to the Keele campus on Sept. 20.

At the welcome ceremony, Lenton announced a new award in honour of the Invictus Games in support of increased access to postsecondary education for Canada’s Military personnel and their children.

The York University Service Award provides up to $20,000 over four years to a York University student who is a Canadian Armed Forces member, active or retired, and who has a physical, sensory, medical, mental health or learning disability. The award will also be available to a student with a disability who is a child of a Canadian Armed Forces member.

“This new award will stand as a legacy of the 2017 Invictus Games at York, and will serve as an important way to honour the dedicated individuals whose commitment to service exemplifies the best of Canada,” said Lenton. “It is a great honour to host the inspiring athletes who will compete at next week’s Invictus Games here at York, and we look forward to welcoming competitors, their families and the wider community to the University.”

Image by York University
Above: Back row, from left, President & Vice-Chancellor of York University, Rhonda Lenton, Schulich School of Business student and flag bearer, Sayam Khan, Brigadier-General Stephen Cadden, Commander, 4th Canadian Division, York U Professor Walter Perchal, Giovanna Cioffi, three-time graduate of York University. Pictured in the front row are York University Lions athletes.

“The York University Service Award demonstrates the institution’s recognition of the dedication and courage of the men and women who serve our country so well. I know what a tremendous impact events and programs like this have on our military and their families,” said Brigadier-General Stephen Cadden, commander, 4th Canadian Division.

York University’s Keele Campus was the first stop in the Greater Toronto Area during The National Flag Tour, which has travelled from coast-to-coast visiting 22 military bases, 15 legions and more than 50 communities. The tour runs from Aug. 16 through to Sept. 22.

York University students Sayem Khan and Giovanna Cioffi and Professor Walter Perchal, were selected to help carry the Official Invictus Games Flag – a physical representation of the unconquerable spirit of the Games’ competitors.

Image by York University
Above: From left, Vimy, Invictus Games mascot, Flag bearers Sayam Khan, Schulich School of Business student, Professor Walter Perchal of York University, and Giovanna Cioffi, who is a three-time graduate of York University. Both Perchal and Cioffi are current members of the Canadian Forces.

Sayem Khan is a member of the elite Schulich Ambassador Program at the Schulich School of Business at York University. Khan applied to be a flag bearer via the Invictus Games. He arrived in Canada as an immigrant and is proud of his work with the Toronto Police Service’s ‘Youth in Policing’ initiative.

Professor Walter Perchal is a current member of the York University faculty. He served with the Canadian Forces for many years. Over the course of his duties, as a Senior Officer, Perchal previously commanded The Royal Regiment of Canada. He later served as Special Advisor to the Canadian Army Commander, and did foreign service as a Military Advisor with NATO Allies.

Giovanna Cioffi is a three-time graduate of York University. She is now pursuing her PhD in Communication and Culture. Coffi earned two master’s degrees including Environmental Science and Disaster and Emergency Management from York, following her undergraduate York Degree. She currently serves with the Canadian Forces.

The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 takes place from Sept. 23 to 30. York University will serve as a venue for the games’ athletics competition. York is among several venues in the Greater Toronto Area to host the competition. On Sept. 24 and 25 athletes will compete at the York Lions Stadium in athletics events that include track, jumping, throwing and combined events including those competing in wheelchairs, with prostheses, or under the guidance of a sighted person known as a guide.

The Invictus Games uses the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding of and respect for those who serve their country and their loved ones.  Visit www.InvictusGames2017.com for the full Flag Tour schedule and tickets.

This feature is repurposed from Yfile, York University’s eNewletter, September 21, 2017.

Welcoming Lucy Fromowitz and Celebrating Sizzlin’ Success at the Division of Students Barbecue

Here at YorkU, we have a lot to celebrate this summer: we can reflect proudly on our accomplished graduates as they go out into the world, the foundation of a brand-new Markham campus, and the advent of what promises to be a wonderful 2017-2018 academic year with the appointment of our new Vice-Provost Students, Lucy Fromowitz!

To welcome our new leader and celebrate our staff’s commitment to student success, the Division of Students gathered on Friday, July 21 at The Underground for a Sizzlin’ Success Barbecue. During the event, staff members from the Division of Students shared classic barbecue fare including burgers (with alternate options for various dietary restrictions), salad and popsicles, and settled in to learn a little more about our new Vice-Provost Students and the upcoming year at YorkU.

The Sizzlin’ Summer Celebration

Immediately upon walking into the Sizzlin’ Summer Barbecue, Division of Students staff were treated to a display of YorkU pride. The event committee had transformed the Underground with red and white decorations, balloons and lights to reflect the YorkU colours. After some lively conversation between colleagues, our student MCs took the stage to start the afternoon’s events. Angelica Lyn Grospe and Sebastien Lalonde are dynamic student leaders in the YorkU community and they kept the event rolling with humour and style!

Introducing: Lucy Fromowitz

After welcoming the crowd and inviting Randy Pitawanakwat, Coordinator, Aboriginal Student Services, to acknowledge the Indigenous land upon which YorkU stands, Angelica and Sebastien introduced Lucy Fromowitz.

As a previous YorkU student and employee, Lucy has a unique understanding of the University’s history and identity. In each of her professional roles, Lucy has provided leadership in enhancing student engagement, learning and success. In her new role at YorkU, Lucy will lead the campus in the coordination of advising and student services, promote communications with students, and support strategic enrolment planning and recruitment— all while helping to create a safe, healthy campus environment for students at YorkU.

Lucy took to the stage to discuss the unique role of The Division of Students. She notes that the Division works to create opportunities for student success by supporting student services, daily administrative requirements, marketing and outreach operations. We also work closely with YorkU’s student population to form a community of ideas and engagement. Students inspire everything we do, and the significance of that was central to Lucy’s address. For Lucy, thinking like and with students is the key to our mandate.

“We have to approach things the way our students do: with curiosity,” she said. “We create with our students.”

Lucy honoured the commitment of the Division of Students staff to supporting student success and service excellence. To demonstrate the dedication of everyone in the department, she asked staff members who had been with YorkU for 25, 10 and five years and then one year to stand up. As people rose with their peers, the room cheered and clapped in recognition.

Lucy continued by saying that, as YorkU moves into the future, engaging with our students and listening to their diverse perspectives will be a cornerstone of creating positive change. Our values – Respect, Accountability, Excellence, Care, Innovation, Inclusion and Collaboration — will guide us as we move into the 2017-2018 academic year, yielding new opportunities. Together, students and staff will continue the collaborative dialogues that make the YorkU campus a progressive, distinct, student-centric place.

After a lighthearted selfie with Lucy, Angelica and Sebastien breezed through the long list of YorkU acronyms, listing terms such as ACE, CDS, SCS, VPF&A, OSCR, CSBO, LSE, SCLD and YU to “help” Lucy reorient herself to York. “York has its own language,” they said, leading to nodding heads and smiles as staff called out the acronyms as they were spoken.

Celebrating the Division of Students Staff

Angelica and Sebastien then introduced Brendan Schulz, Executive Director, Student Success, Carol Altilia, University Registrar, and Sheila Forshaw, Executive Director, Resources.

To illustrate how everyone in the room had a role in supporting our students across the student lifecycle, each audience member stood up as Brendan, Carol and Sheila called out key milestones — recruitment, admission, document processing, registrarial and financial services, health and wellness, student development, care and support, leadership development, career planning. All 200+ staff stood, often more than once, as their collaboration and cooperation was highlighted. The University Registrar next drew attention to the updated “Building on Successes” handout capturing the unit-specific achievements of the past year (2016-17) and encouraged everyone to pick up a copy on their way out.

After recognizing the Division of Students staff, a lively game of “Tips for Lucy” commenced where each table filled out a questionnaire with insider information about the best places to eat, find a quality coffee, mingle with students or unwind, along with the best campus view and the fastest route from Bennett to Tait McKenzie. The interactive game – a brainchild of the Student Success Centre (SSC – another acronym!) team — was an excellent way for staff members to share their experienced perspectives on YorkU with Lucy and with each other.

All staff then gathered outside in the sunny square for popsicles – the perfect close to a summer BBQ.

To experience the event in pictures, click through the Sizzlin’ Success Celebration Flickr feed: https://www.flickr.com/photos/yorkuniversity/albums/72157684025278664.

A special “thank you” to the Event Committee for planning the Sizzlin’ Summer Celebration: Rheza Evangelista, Julie Rahmer, Donna Cope, Saba Rafiq, Catherine Salole, Shanthini Jeyakumar, Dianne Twombley and Mary Dytyniak!

York Launches Strategy to Advance Campus Mental Health

York's Campus Mental Health Strategy
York’s Campus Mental Health Strategy

Do you know someone who has struggled with their mental health? Perhaps a family member, close friend, colleague or even yourself? Given that 20% of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime, chances are the dialogue around mental health taking place at York, in Canada and across the world directly impacts you or someone you know.

As this conversation grows, the impetus for change falls to institutions such as York to lead the charge to raise awareness around mental health and ensure support is readily available and accessible to all of our community members – students, staff and faculty.

The University has recognized this need and has responded by developing York’s Campus Mental Health Strategy that seeks to address the needs of our campus community. The strategy officially launched this past October 18 at Founders College Assembly Hall. More than a hundred people attended.

National College Health Assessment Findings
National College Health Assessment survey data

Among others, key stakeholder Vice-President Academic & Provost Rhonda Lenton and Mental Health Steering Committee Co-Chairs Lesley Beagrie, Suzanne Killick and Stephanie Francis spoke to the importance of York paving the way for other institutions to prioritize and support the advancement of mentally healthy campuses.

The strategy highlights mental health priorities for three key campus groups: students, staff and faculty, as identified during the community consultations spearheaded by York’s Mental Health Steering Committee. The plan will continue to reflect York’s commitment to health and wellness promotion; facilitation of care and support; and collaboration and discussion. New principles developed as a result of the consultations include:

  • deliver a long-term approach for the management of mental health challenges;
  • outline initiatives to help achieve improved mental health outcomes for members of the University community;
  • identify support aimed at helping individuals becoming more involved in managing their own mental health;
  • advocate for accessible services to be made available to the community, both on and off campus; and
  • focus on partnership with the University community and working together to achieve a mentally healthy campus.

The plan will also focus on four key priorities: leadership; planning and promotion; campus engagement; and service delivery.

Stephanie Francis, Division of Student’s mental health & wellness project lead
Stephanie Francis, Division of Student’s mental health & wellness project lead

Stephanie Francis, Coordinator, Health Education & Promotion, Student Success Centre, and the Division of Student’s mental health & wellness project lead, is encouraged by the gain made so far.

“We have already witnessed signs of progress towards advancing a mentally healthy campus within the Division of Students, and will continue to provide support and resources for students to meet strategic goals. This year, we developed and provided Mental Health training to 1000 Orientation-Week leaders; welcomed more than 600 Grade 12 students from the York Region District School Board to campus for a full day of games and lectures dedicated to educating young people about mental health; and helped conduct more than 50 community consultation sessions with students, faculty and staff to help inform the Strategy.”

Mental health extends beyond our borders here at York. It is prevalent at campuses across the country and the globe. Founder and student ambassadors from Jack.org echoed this sentiment, sharing their personal struggles and encounters with mental health issues inside and outside school communities. Led by Eric Windeler, and created in memory of his late son Jack, Jack.org is Canada’s only national network of young leaders advocating for youth mental health and aims to put an end to mental health stigma.

Jack.org
Jack.org is Canada’s only national network of young leaders advocating for youth mental health.

The investment of community members in York’s Campus Mental Health Strategy was made clear by the attendance, engagement and concerns brought forth during the question and answer period of the launch. Questions posed ranged from how York plans to simplify access to counselling services for students and increase availability of counsellors. Staff and faculty raised the need for clear resources to help them address and respond to student mental health concerns, as well as support when dealing with personal and professional issues.

While York does already offer a number of resources to aid its community members – accessible through the Mental Health & Wellness at York website – the University will also soon be adding specific, actionable recommendations that address day-to-day mental health concerns that arise on campus. Additional short-term goals include: further development of existing supports, identification of resource gaps and a continuation of community roundtable discussions (similar to past consultations) to support an open campus dialogue.

York students, staff and faculty members in attendance
York students, staff and faculty members in attendance

By re-evaluating progress every three years, the University hopes to ensure a progressive movement toward creating and maintaining a mentally healthy campus that empowers our community to thrive.

For more information about York’s Campus Mental Health Strategy and community updates, please visit: yorku.ca/mentalhealth.