Volunteer for CACUSS “Whole Campus, Whole Student” Conference 2015

Volunteer for CACUSS “Whole Campus, Whole Student” Conference 2015

By: Elvira Chan | Contributor
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Aside from attending classes, catching up with friends at Mackenzie Café, and then going straight home to decompress, what else can one do with their time in university? The answer is: quite a bit.

 

With an upcoming conference meant to bring awareness of getting involved with the opportunities offered at university, the awareness of volunteerism and its mutual benefits are sure to be put in the spotlight.

The CACUSS 2015 Conference will be held from May 24th-27th at the Vancouver Convention Centre downtown and will be exploring the importance of an institution’s engagement and its effects on students’ mental and physical wellbeing. With topics such as social spaces on campus, creating a thriving campus culture, programs that focus on student health, and mentorship opportunities to aid aspiring students, the conference rewards attendees with the benefits of fostering a healthy, diverse, and inclusive campus community.

I had the opportunity to speak to some of the CACUSS 2015 Conference organizers about the goals and meaning of the conference theme: “Whole Campus, Whole Student.” As well, we discussed the benefits of volunteering your time and skills, and as advice on how to start getting involved.

Albert Fung is a member of the Host team, and Lindsay Chow is the lead of the Volunteer Coordination Team. Here’s what they had to say!

 

Q & A:

The theme for the 2015 Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS) Conference is student growth and well-being, which is vital for student success. Can you tell me what the “Whole Campus, Whole Student” theme means to you personally? 

Lindsay: When I first started as a student here, I wasn’t as involved because I was only taking classes in Surrey; but after taking classes in Burnaby, I realized there were a lot more opportunities to get involved, whether it’s giving back to the community or joining clubs. The theme that SFU chose for the conference is valuable because it’s a prevalent theme in our everyday life, but it also allows students to essentially relate and have their needs addressed.

Albert: This conference has student services professionals attending from universities all over Canada, whether from recreational, career services, or academic support. It will revolve around everything that has to do with student life. The program committee is really interested in how all these different programs and professionals can help contribute to creating a healthy environment for every student. It goes beyond just one aspect. Whether a student is living on residence, needing help with advising, or seeing student services, all of these aspects should be looked at in a holistic fashion. We should ask ourselves, “How can we create the most ideal and comfortable environment in order to allow students to thrive academically and personally?” If a student doesn’t feel positive about the institution and its environment, it’s incredibly difficult for them to succeed. The idea is to ask ourselves what students coming into our university need in order to succeed, from the inside out.

 

Along with attending classes, students are encouraged to be resilient, creative, and engaged citizens. Being mindful of our health is an important factor in how we experience and interpret university life. What are the benefits of fostering an environment that revolves around our physical and mental health? 

Albert: To start off, students are spending the bulk of their time in classrooms and lecture halls. They have always advocated for more study areas, and Simon Fraser University has responded to that in the last couple of years by creating more study areas. We also need to think about recreational services such as fitness centers, libraries, and the spaces that students come together to create a community in. All of these aspects play a part in a student’s life, and affect their mental wellbeing. Life as a student can be stressful, with juggling classes, work, and relationships on and off campus. Students may not always be equipped to cope with these stressors, and that’s where student services come into play. For example, part of what I do in my job working in Career and Volunteer Services is talk to students about the challenges that they face during job searches and the worries they have about their careers. By giving students tools to combat these stressors and worries, it allows them to have more support and confidence in the future.

Lindsay: By becoming an active participant in the school, you’re staying healthy mentally by being connected and meeting new people. You also create unique relationships by networking, and by pushing you to balance your priorities, it encourages you to appreciate and embrace the people that you’re working with and the kind of work that you’re doing in the community.

 

Do you have any memorable experiences with breaking out of your comfort zone to get involved? 

Lindsay: When I was a student, I was always so focused on academics that it was hard for me to break in and start somewhere. At the end of my second year, a friend had mentioned to me the opportunity of working as a volunteer for SFU recreation. I knew it was something that I liked since I had always been interested in physical activity in high school. From then on, I’ve worked at SFU camps, and been a Beedie Frosh leader and mentor. Once you get comfortable and start meeting others in your faculty or area of interest, you keep wanting to get involved because you start seeing all the other opportunities offered.

Albert: I used to be a youth worker and we’d do these summer camps, and with 6-8 months of planning, there was a lot happening. I got to know everyone really well because we went through many highs, lows, and late nights laced with hard work. My closest friends were the people I supervised at the camp with, and volunteered alongside. They’re still people I keep in touch with after all these years. I may not necessarily remember the details of events, or how well they went, but I will always remember the people I met through the process.

 

What role do the volunteers play for the CACUSS 2015 conference? 

Albert: The CACUSS 2015 Conference gives people the chance to speak to professionals across Canada. Being a part of this conference allows for your voice to be heard by presenters and other attendees, for ideas to be exchanged, and resources and information to be shared. It’s really important for volunteers themselves to do some professional development at this conference, since many come with background knowledge in a particular area that they can contribute to, even as they are playing their role as a volunteer.

 

What are some of the benefits of volunteering, both professionally and personally? 

Albert: Volunteers have a lot of impact on the whole experience and feel of an event. Even just by attending an event somewhere and talking to a few volunteers, I’ve gotten answers and assistance that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to find elsewhere. To me, it’s all about hospitality and making a major difference in someone else’s experience by helping attendees make the most out of an event.

 

Many students are uncertain of where to begin when it comes to volunteering or choosing a cause that matters to them. With so many events and opportunities for growth, what advice would you give to someone wanting to contribute to a cause but not sure where to begin?  

Lindsay: I would recommend students to use their resources at SFU. For new students, attending orientation and frosh can show first-years what the school has to offer them. For others who haven’t caught on right away, there are programs within each faculty, as well as student services, career services, and peer educators. There’s so many different types of communities that you can reach out to. As soon as you learn about one, it’s easier to branch out and learn about other ones. Professors, peers, and other students in the faculty can be great resources!

 

Learn more about the conference and sign up as a CACUSS 2015 volunteer now by clicking the link! The deadline is Friday, March 27th!

sfu.ca/volunteer/cacuss-2015

 

Image Credits:
Nickelodeon
Simon Fraser University and CACUSS 

 

Elvira Chan is a second year Communication student with a minor in print & digital publishing. Her dream is to become a novelist, and hopes to work for a magazine company in the future. Check out her blog at elvirachan11.wordpress.com

Posted on March 24, 2015