By Iyvan Chandran
Self-advocacy is not only useful for supporting changes that students want to see in their institutions, but can also be applied beyond the academic scope. It may be the most important foundational skill to be successful in university. In my opinion, students can only thrive in university if they are able to find their place on campus.
So what is self-advocacy?
Self-advocacy is the ability to speak up for what is needed. It enables you to understand your strengths and weaknesses, identify what is needed to succeed and communicate that to others.
Benefits of self-advocacy
- Finding creative solutions to challenges that others may not be aware of
- Building self-confidence in your ability to learn
- Creating a sense of ownership over your learning style
- Developing persistence through independence and self-empowerment
Self advocacy can range from requesting certain courses to be taught in your program for career readiness to seeking resources to help with learning disabilities. Visit the campus support system to keep yourself updated on what academic accommodations are available.
When FEAS students realized that there was lack of support for classes outside of office hours and labs, many advocated for a creative solution. This was done through student groups and societies and now we have course tutorials. To learn more about this, I reached out to the advocacy legend of RyEng; Electrical Engineering alumni Karol Bahnan. During our conversation he told me about his experience of advocacy through holding tutorials for courses.
“Hosting academic and professional tutorials was one of the ways I was able to contribute to the community. Attending them in my freshman year myself enabled my growth of knowledge and professional attitude. Once I entered my senior year, I strived to advocate for the academic success of the community.”
Karol advocated for Ryerson Engineering by hosting over 100 tutorials for courses students struggle with. He also hosted an industry professional night to address the lack of interaction between recruiters and Ryerson Engineering students, created a Ryerson soccer club to boost inclusivity on campus, and increased the amount of resources available to students by the RECESS exam bank. His notable involvement on campus also includes Ryerson Board of Governors and RECESS President. By addressing these issues and getting involved within the community, Karol was able to familiarize himself with the resources available and find his place on campus.
You may be wondering “how does this apply to me, I am just a student on campus”. I am glad to inform you that you are not limited to going to class and completing your work. There are many services on campus that are available to you, and any member on campus can create their own group or initiative.
Any problem you have a creative solution to that will benefit students can be brought up at local student society meetings which will result in a better academic experience for everyone. Recently you may have noticed an abundance in support for students now that learning has evolved to an online experience. This was possible through the advocacy of students, faculty, and staff. As engineers and architects we should be aiming to solve problems that society faces, but we can’t really do that unless we are able to advocate for ourselves.
Want to create a new student group? Please refer to the links below:
To learn more about advocacy and how it can be applied to yourself register for the upcoming PNP events below: