Housing & Residence Life

Your Neighbour: Connecting Students to the Community

This article was co-authored by Troy Murray.

The values that follow illustrate Ryerson’s commitment to creating an open and accessible environment that is vibrant, inclusive, and representative of an institution of excellence. Each of these values is important in its own right and together they serve as the foundation of the academic plan’s aspirations and priorities.”

Ryerson University is located in one of the most urban and diverse cities in North America. Toronto’s cityscape and boroughs provide countless opportunities to engage and discover; our demographics and multiculturalism are reflected through art, year-round festivals, diverse celebrations; and we’d argue that just when you think you’ve seen it all in this city, there is still something new to discover.

Your Neighbour is a day-long learning experience that connects Ryerson University Housing & Residence Life (HRL) student leaders with community organizations that have a stake in our student experience. This will be an exchange: participants will learn how our core values, as outlined by the Academic Plan, connect to different organizations around the city. The organizations working with us will in turn learn about Ryerson’s student experience. 

This is Not a Service Learning Project: It’s About Connecting the Dots

With our unique population and location, neighbouring organizations are an important stakeholder in supporting our students as members of residence, the university, and surrounding communities. HRL student leaders will connect Ryerson’s values to the participating organization through their visit, and bring back this information to spark success and action plans for our residence communities to know and understand this great city we are a part of. We are hoping that this results in intentional referrals and connections on-and-off campus for students in need or looking to get involved.

We feel it’s important to remind ourselves that there is a connection to our city and our campus, and there are many organizations in Toronto that represent and reflect Ryerson’s commitment to Community & Inclusion, that enhance the overall student experience:

  • ACCESS: The University is committed to providing access to education and employment opportunities at Ryerson for students, faculty, and staff of all backgrounds, in particular those from marginalized and underrepresented groups. We’d like to thank Tangled Art & Disability for hosting us and connecting to the Access value.
  • DIVERSITY: The university values and respects diversity of knowledge, worldviews, and experiences that come from membership in different groups, and the contribution that diversity makes to the learning, teaching, research, and work environment. We’d like to thank The 519 for hosting us and connecting to the Diversity value.
  • RESPECT FOR ABORIGINAL PERSPECTIVES: The University will continue to cultivate and develop relationships with Aboriginal communities, both within and outside the university. The campus environment will embrace and support Aboriginal learners, faculty, and staff, and ensure Aboriginal people take a leading role in the advancement of Aboriginal education at Ryerson. We’d like to thank the Native Youth Sexual Health Network and Ryerson Aboriginal Student Services for hosting us and connecting to the Respect for Aboriginal Perspectives value.
  • INCLUSION: The University values the equitable, intentional, and ongoing engagement of diversity within every facet of university life. It is the shared responsibility of all community members to foster a welcoming, supportive, and respectful learning, teaching, research, and work environment. We’d like to thank Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services, The United Way for hosting us and connecting to the Inclusion value.
  • EQUITY: The University values the fair and just treatment of all community members through the creation of opportunities and the removal of barriers to address historic and current disadvantages for underrepresented and marginalized groups. We’d like to thank Toronto FoodShare, The United Way for hosting us and connecting to the Equity value.
  • COMMUNITY: The University sustains its commitment to ensuring a strong sense of belonging and engagement for students, alumni, faculty, and staff, and values mutual and reciprocal relationships with the broader community. We’d like to thank Central Neighbourhood House, The United Way for hosting us and connecting to the Community value.

Grounded in Theory

Your Neighbour embraces Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory and is frame-worked by formal Learning Outcomes connected to Bloom’s Taxonomy.  These theories will help shape the creative assessment of this learning experience.

Kolb's Experiential Learning Cycle Bloom's Taxonomy Pyramid

Your Neighbour Learning Outcomes

By participating in Your Neighbour, student leaders from Housing & Residence Life will be able to…

  • explore and critically examine how their intersecting identities (ie: student, community member of residence/Ryerson/Toronto, first-generation learner, gender/sex, etc.) are impacted by Ryerson’s values through personal and group reflection activities. (ANALYSIS)
  • demonstrate and describe how Ryerson is building a culture of community engagement and philanthropy through group discussions with the partner organization. (COMPREHENSION)
  • apply one value connected to the academic plan by integrating Ryerson’s definition of this value to their own experience from their off-campus visit through a culminating group presentation. (APPLICATION)     
  • manage an on-going community resource list, by area team, that includes existing community resources on-campus (ie: TMP and Ambassador program) and organizations off-campus (not limited to those spaces visited) to refer to students interested or in-need of support or through a support and action plan. (SYNTHESIS)                                                                                             

What’s Next?

Your Neighbour will continue to evolve; from these visits, to community campaigns, to tours and celebrations, our intention is that this inaugural learning experience will continue to grow annually. What better way to learn about your surroundings as an incoming student than to engage with the community, even before classes begin.

We hope you’ll follow our day of learning on Twitter where we will be using #YourNeighbour to document our experience on August 27, 2015.

And finally, a huge thanks goes out to our sponsors: to Launderlust for their generous support, to Richtree Natural Market Restaurants and Panera Bread for fueling our students, and to The United Way for connecting us to these great community agencies.

Interested in learning how the inaugural Your Neighbour program went? Check out the Your Neighbour Assessment post!


  • John Austin

    I’m so encouraged by this program! It is one of many great examples of thoughtful #RyersonSA work that is created with direct alignment to Ryerson’s mission, goals, and values in mind. I can’t wait to see what the students have to say about it!! Thanks for making this happen, Brandon & Troy!

  • Rachel Barreca

    I think I’m gonna cry, this is so beautiful. I’m really inspired by what you’ve planned.

  • Arif Abu

    Amazing! Love this new project!

  • Caroline Konrad

    I love this initiative! Well done!

  • Dawn Maracle

    This was a wonderful experience for Aboriginal Student Services to work with Cheryl Trudeau of the Aboriginal Education Council, and Krysta Williams from the Native Youth Sexual Health Network (NYSHYN). This decolonizing, re-historying and interactive method of storytelling opens a curtain for Canadians to see sides of history that they have previously not been exposed to. The Kairos Blanket Exercise, used after the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP), and revised and used during the Truth and Reconcilliation Commission (TRC) closing ceremonies…this is an experience all Ryerson staff, students and faculty, and all Canadians in general, should be exposed to. Thank you for the opportunity!