Truths & Aspirations

Truths & Aspirations: RyersonSA’s Critical Reflection on Past Failures and Future Growth

As we get engage in the nationwide Canada150 conversations and – tenuous – celebrations, RyersonSA chose to reflect on our past and consider our aspirations for the future. Hopefully you’ve been following our Truths/Aspirations campaign on Twitter and considering your own truths and aspirations as we mark this occasion.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

—Winston Churchill

As we encourage our government and country to be critical of both Canada’s successes and failures, we too needed to consider our own. Next week, members of RyersonSA are going to take a deep dive into our past and critically reflect upon our work with and for students, asking two key questions: where might we have we let students down, and what important growth did we learn from the experience?

  • Where did your department “fail” students?
  • How did that moment change what you do?
  • How does that relate to where you want your department to go? What do you aspire to be for students?
  • How will you get there?
  • How will all aspects of RyersonSA contribute to the future of education in Canada?

These are just some of the questions we asked ourselves. The answers weren’t always easy to hear, but they needed to be heard. Only by reflecting on what we have done—true, honest, critical reflection—can we ever hope to grow. It’s at the heart of assessment; it’s a way to find empathy in our work. If we’re not open to listening to our failures and the people affected by them, we won’t succeed in student affairs nor be the scaffolding for our students we try to be.

As we planned what stories to tell, what reflections to share, a common theme rose to the surface, one of inclusion and fit. Our goals are often—rightly so—about inclusion and being available, accessible, and for everyone. But, as we learned, one size does not fit all and sometimes, in order to be for all, we need to adapt our perspectives to find the place where a particular person or group is and wants to be and go to them.

We haven’t always been there for all groups; that’s our truth. But it gives us our aspiration, too: “You deserve to be included.” The question, our goal, then becomes how to include everyone, in a way they need/want to be included.

Tune in next week to see how this idea affected Orientation Week, counselling centre wait times, residence fee payments, on-campus, work-study programs, and student learning support. And as you read about our failures and how we sought to learn from them, reflect on your own growing pains as a unit, department, institution, or individual. What can or have you learned from your past experiences that can help you reach your future goal? When it comes to the work you do in Student Affairs—what do you aspire to be?


Truths & Aspirations: RyersonSA’s Critical Reflection on Past Failures and Future Growth is a week long series for #Canada150 in which RyersonSA members reflect on a way we may have let students down, what we learned from it, and how it will affect what we aspire to be in the future.