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Meet Me in the Quad is a podcast created for first-year UVic students that shares on the UVic students experience through interviews with students, staff and faculty. 

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Season 1 Transcripts

[Episode 1] UVic and the Online Classroom: The Academic and Technical Writing Program (ATWP)

Teresa Sammut (Host) 0:17
Hello UVic student community and welcome to Meet Me in the Quad, your UVic Student Life podcast. Brought to you by UVic's Office of Student Life. My name is Teresa and I'm a fourth year English major and I will be hosting Season One of the podcast. Meet Me in the Quad is being recorded on the traditional territories of the Lekwungen peoples. We would like to acknowledge with respect the Songhees, Esquimalt, and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.

So in today's episode we're going to be exploring UVic and the online classroom. Three professors from the academic and technical writing program or the ATWP as we're going to call it in this podcast chat with us about the ATWP courses. What those will look like this fall, and share their advice about how students can best succeed. So in this episode, we're joined by Dr. Erin Kelly, program director and Associate Professor within the Department of English. Dr. Sarah Humphreys ATWP course coordinator and assistant professor within the Department of English, and finally Dr. Denae Dyck, sessional. instructor within ATWP and of course professor within the Department of English. So thank you all so much for joining me this afternoon. How are you all doing? How has your summer been?

Dr. Sara Humphreys 1:57
Summer? It's been a blur. Anyway, Erin, you go ahead and start?

Dr. Erin Kelly 2:02
No, it's, it's it's been a summer of working on lots of interesting projects and learning new things so that we can do the best job possible with our classes in the fall.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 2:16
Yeah, definitely.

Dr. Denae Dyck 2:18
Yeah. Yeah, I'm excited to be here. It's been an exciting summer full of a lot of learning opportunities. And the moment now as we're looking ahead to the fall term is a particularly invigorating one, I think.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 2:31
Yeah. Awesome.

Dr. Sara Humphreys 2:34
Sarah, here and I am excited. I'm really looking forward to the fall term. I will say it was a blur. I think that for a lot of students, it was a blur of some of my students I taught in the summer and some of my students were taking three and four online courses, which is really challenging. And as they said like, summer happened. So I think that there's a lot of that going on as we get used to this new normal or this normal for now. Yeah,

Teresa Sammut (Host) 3:04
Definitely. Yeah, I definitely, you know, relate to all of that. It's just been a blur. Like, where did this summer go? Now? We're about to start the fall term. And yet, it's kind of crazy, but I think it'll be a good one. Yeah, I just got to make the most of it. Just the most of it. Right.

Dr. Sara Humphreys 3:23
Exactly.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 3:24
Yeah. So before we start our conversation talking about the ATWP and specifically ATWP 135. I just want to start off with a little fun segment, just kind of like a little icebreaker, but it's called This or That. So it's pretty fun.

Dr. Sara Humphreys 3:45
Okay.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 3:47
Okay, so little preamble here. So there are some areas of campus life where our community is a little bit polarized. Okay. So for example, where to buy the best coffee on campus.

Dr. Sara Humphreys 4:03
I knew it. I knew you were going to start with that

Teresa Sammut (Host) 4:07
Okay, that's like, that's the most, you know, common example. But I would say munchie bar, just saying. So, we've identified a few of the areas that we want to hear where you all fall. So I'll present you with two different concepts or two concepts and we want to hear which one you prefer. This or that. Clear. Okay, yeah. Okay. So, all right. So this or that, marking group projects, or marking term papers?

Dr. Erin Kelly 4:43
Whoo.

Dr. Sara Humphreys 4:48
Wow.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 4:48
Or you could say neither.

Dr. Sara Humphreys 4:51
Oh, no, I wouldn't say that.

Dr. Denae Dyck 4:55
So, this is Denae here. I'm going to go with marking term papers because they think That term papers can often be the culmination of a lot of effort and research over the course of the term. And I like the opportunity opportunity to give feedback to students on an individual basis on something that's been a project that they've emphasized a lot over the past weeks and days.

Dr. Erin Kelly 5:19
Yeah, and I would actually agree with Denae, particularly when it comes to 135. Because in my 135 classes, and I think a lot of our instructors went through five classes, students get to develop their own topics, choose their own topics. And so the dirty little secret is that when I read their term papers, I'm actually really learning a lot about topics I would otherwise not go out and learn about. So I now know all sorts of things about bit coin and cannabis marketing, and, you know, breeding programs for endangered species, and zoos and any number of other things that I now know a lot about. And because I love learning new things, reading 135 term papers is always kind of a joy.

Dr. Sara Humphreys 6:10
We don't really have excuse me, we don't really have group projects in 135, what we have are, like, sometimes instructors do peer review teams, most often. And sometimes you'll switch up between teams, or you'll, you'll be with a team all the way through the course. And you get to be really, it's a small class, right, like 30 people. So you really get to, and you're put into a team of maybe six to 10 online so that it's a little more manageable in the discussion section. And so I really enjoy watching the students, they, you know, start really writing their papers, almost from like week three. And by writing the paper, I mean, starting with the research process, and I mean, sort of fiddling around with something they love. So it's like we say choose a topic, choose something not necessarily you love, but something that's like, it can either annoy you sometimes you want to investigate something that's annoying, or they can love, right? And they look into it, and you're like, wow, look at all the death notes. And then you start talking with your peers, and you start coming up with ideas, you do more research, and then you start writing. So they really start that process quite early on. And then that introduces just the way we do things in academia, right, which is in better or worse than anywhere else in terms of writing and that kind of thing. So for me, I agree with Erin and Denae. But I like watching the process as you go through the term and seeing the students grow because invariably they do.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 7:34
Yeah, that's, that's really interesting. I like as a student, I say, like I would rather like write a paper than into a group project just because I really liked to really collect like everything that I've learned or like, yeah, just showing, showing myself like what I can really do with that knowledge. Like what am I doing now? Like, so what you know? Yeah, that's pretty cool. All right. Next one. All right. Early morning classes, or afternoon classes?

Dr. Sara Humphreys 8:08
Sara, here, afternoon. That's me!

Teresa Sammut (Host) 8:13
Haha. Yeah.

Dr. Sara Humphreys 8:16
We're totally asynchronous though. So maybe so it's like, yes, I really love it. For some, you know, it's 9pm. And I'm like, you know, I feel like checking out some student writing. And that's totally cool.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 8:26
That's awesome.

Dr. Erin Kelly 8:29
I don't have a preference.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 8:30
No?

Dr. Erin Kelly 8:31
No.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 8:33
That's good.

Dr. Erin Kelly 8:33
No, I'm really hard about this. And actually, it is as as Sarah said, all of our classes going into the fall are asynchronous. And maybe this is one of the reasons why I'm, there's there's a lot of things in the fall, that will be no new, different and likely challenging. But schedule is not one of them. Yeah, maybe that's that's good. Because I think, for me, that question should be turned around that, you know, I think there are students who prefer morning classes, there are students who have classes, and then there's students who wind up in class at a time that is not their preference because of other kinds of pressures. Yeah. And in a perfect world, we would have a class available at a time that works exactly right for someone. And so, maybe, that's what we'll finally have managed to pull off this fall.

We'll see.

Dr. Sara Humphreys 9:27
Yeah, that's right.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 9:28
Yeah.

Dr. Denae Dyck 9:29
I'm a morning person myself--Denae here. So that's what I would tend to opt for as a student and be particularly energized for as a professor. But I would echo what Erin and Sarah have said about how the asynchronous format of ATWP 135 online, gives people the benefit of being able to think about their own schedules and think about their own optimal times for learning and plan accordingly.

Dr. Sara Humphreys 9:55
Yeah, you know, that's true. Yeah. Teresa, you talked about you know, possible earlier and I do, I do miss the munchie bar. And I think it's going to be open. If you're on campus, you can grab a coffee, but I would go like fill up my massive, like thermos, and I would at 8:30 classes, I would drag my butt into the class. And I would hold my cup and say, this is the golden elixir of the gods. This is all that's keeping me going. A lot of fans would nod their heads. So I think today, there'll be three students who go what I'm a morning person, what's going on? Anyway, go ahead.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 10:31
Yeah, no, so true. That's so true. And I think like having that asynchronous opportunity, it'll be good for like multiple different students. So you can start early in the morning if you want and really, like, adapt that with other classes that you're taking. But in a normal kind of session. I'm more of a morning person. Yeah, as long as as long as it's not 8:30 AM. 9 AM and afterwards is way better. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Okay. Okay. Okay. Next one. Next. Last- or actually last one as well. So, novels or short stories?

Dr. Denae Dyck 11:09
To teach or to read?

Teresa Sammut (Host) 11:11
To teach.

Dr. Erin Kelly 11:12
Oh!

Teresa Sammut (Host) 11:13
Mm hmm.

Dr. Erin Kelly 11:13
I'm gonna I'm gonna wreck your system. While everybody else is thinking I'm sorry. I'm a I'm a drama specialist. I would glaze over either one of those anytime.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 11:24
Definitely.

Dr. Erin Kelly 11:24
End of statement.

Dr. Sara Humphreys 11:28
I don't teach literature I teach social media.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 11:31
Which I will be taking next semester!

Dr. Sara Humphreys 11:35
We do a lot of you know, I do a lot of reading around like sound start reading Wired Magazine, start subscribing, the IGN and stuff like that, you know. Um, but other than that, I mean, I'm more interested in how communication works. Hmm. So I don't think so. Denae's the one so Denae?

Dr. Denae Dyck 11:53
Well, I was gonna say poetry, you know if I could pick. Yeah,but to play by the rules here. You know, you have different advantages. If you're teaching short stories, you can introduce more authors, more themes, more sub genres. That's a lot of fun. And I think you can get more people excited, easier that way. But there is something about the process of teaching a story that unfolds over long periods of time and many pages. Yeah. And speaking as someone who works mainly on 19th century literature, the novel is still kind of my go to genre.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 12:30
Yes, I would agree.

Dr. Sara Humphreys 12:31
Okay, Teresa. What do you like to study in class? Do you like novels, plays, poetry?

Movies? Video games?

Teresa Sammut (Host) 12:41
Well, not those last two.Um, I don't know. I was like, I've mainly only really studied like, novels, and poetry. I really haven't. haven't studied any plays. I'm going to be studying a Shakespeare course in the spring. But yeah, mostly it's been novels, and poetry and I have a big soft spot in my heart for Victorian poetry. Of course. It is already. Yeah, it's great. It's great. Okay, so let's jump into ATWP. So I was just wondering if we could start off the conversation by just giving some context to our listeners. So what is ATWP 135? And what is it intended like purpose or goal overall?

Dr. Erin Kelly 13:35
I'm going to talk about what the ATWP is, as a program, then a couple of things about how the course fits in with some larger university goals. And then since Sarah Humphreys is the 135 course coordinator, I think it would be really a good idea for her to talk about the specific goals of this particular course. So, ATWP 135 is one of a few courses at the University of Victoria that's designated as a course that needs the academic writing requirement.

The university's academic required writing requirement is the one and only undergraduate requirement but every single UVic student must meet in order to get an undergraduate degree from this university. And basically, the reason that requirement exists is that if you look at uvex undergraduate learning outcomes, there's a large number of those learning outcomes that say things like, we expect that every student who graduates is going to understand how to engage with different information sources and how to communicate their ideas effectively, and how to share ideas with other people and become lifelong learners. And a course that focuses on academic reading skills, writing skills and research skills is a course that really aligns with those really important goals. So having an academic writing requirement is a way of the university saying explicitly, I think to undergraduates, we think that these competencies are really super, super important of the, all of the AWS horses.

At one point, were in the English department for various administrative reasons having to do with managing resources and getting things staffed and getting things organized. We basically taken what was English 135, academic reading and writing and moved it out of English, but into the Faculty of Humanities into this newly founded program, which is the academic and technical writing program. So the course is now ATWP 135: Academic Reading and Writing.

And this is the biggest, and one might say the most popular of the academic writing requirement designated courses. It focuses on helping students practice and further develop academic reading, writing and research skills. It helps them to transition from the kinds of work that they did in high school or maybe before coming to university. It definitely prepares them for the work, they're going to be doing an intermediate and upper level classes. I like to say that this course particularly introduces students to the university. How do we do things at the university? How do we think about what is a question that matters? How do we think about what's a good source of information? Not a good source of information? How do we share information? Why do we share information? Why do we care about research so much in the first place, and we really try to create a space in which students can explore their interests while developing those skills and really begin to think about themselves as contributing members of the larger university community.

So for all of those reasons, then the last thing I'll say about this course as being part of the ATWP is that while it does meet the academic writing requirement, there are students who enter the university having already met that requirement, who still decide that they want to take this course, there are also programs departments majors on campus that say to students, even if you enter having that be AWR, we still want you to take this course. So we're also a required course for a number of students. And it is a course that students generally wind up taking in their first year. And as such, it is helping students to develop a really strong foundation that they can then build on. It's lovely to see a lot of students I've had the pleasure of working with in their first year and then eventually getting to see them graduate. And so it's one of the real pleasures of this class is I think, the people who teach it like working with students who are coming in to the university as new students, and then watching them progressive years.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 18:00
That's lovely. And Dr. Humphreys, did you have anything else to add to that?

Dr. Sara Humphreys 18:05
I think I'm just gonna, there's an elephant in the room. And so I'm just going to show everybody the elephant, which is students say, they don't want to take the course. Right, it's a required course. Why do I have to take it? And so generally coming into the class, I think a lot of students feel like I took this and I took English in high school. Why do I have to take this, right? Because there's, but what, what happens across the term is that students realize, Oh my God, I needed this course more than I thought I did. That's one too, because it's a small course in the sense of we have 30 students, which is actually high for a writing course, usually writing courses around 25.

And, you know, they come into the course and they start to get to know people and I get to know all of my students, I know all of my students by their first name, and actually I write them can write reference letter, letters of reference, for them all the way through their academic career. This weekend, I'm writing one for some for a student who took a course with me about two years ago, who's now going to medical school. And I'm the only prof who one can knows that still knows that person's name and remembers them in the class of 500. It's almost impossible and to is that I can speak to their communication skills, which is incredibly important, especially in this world, especially right now as now that we're all online, suddenly, communication skills are even more important.

So in class, I just I'll say this. In Canada, writing studies is a whole discipline. It's a whole area, it deals with communication and different genres of writing. The US has been doing this for a long time. It's called composition and rhetoric. They're here we call it writing studies. And it's really a rather new thing that students have to take a writing course but this is really more than a writing course it's like Erin said, we are the handshake into students coming into university. We say hello. This is why you're here. And the reason we do that is a lot of students come in there, their family members may never have been to university before, I'm certainly one of those students who is quite a first generation student. That's what we're called. Sometimes students are mature students, meaning they may be in their mid 20's or older, right and have some life experience and come back to school. They may come from, they may be working two and three jobs. And so what we do is provide students with a lot of strategies to be successful, if they are not, if they are feeling like, I'm not quite sure how to do this, we're here to say, yeah, you can do this.

You, we know you can do this. And so we're here to let students know, and give them those skills, tools and give them that language that they can go through the rest of their academic career. And beyond thinking, I understand how to deal with new situations, how to communicate those situations, and how to succeed on my own terms. It's not about that, you know, success or you know, excellence and all of those words you hear that are really just more buzzwords and catchphrases. In our courses, we like Erin said, our instructors, they just they are there to support students.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 21:22
Mmhmm. Definitely, definitely. Yeah, like, I when I was in my first year, I actually took 135 English 135, as it was called then and 147. I really felt like, even though I didn't, I didn't need to take like those courses, because my GPA from high school was like high enough. Yeah, I still took them. And I found them to be very helpful, right. And it really just, like helped bridge the gap between like high school writing, and, you know, University Writing, and it really helped me and like looking back at the papers, like, oh, my goodness, look at look at how much I've grown and like learn through that course. And like, yeah, it's just, it's a really great building. So just to, you know, add on as, as you progress throughout your degree and no matter like, what faculty you're in, it's really beneficial.

Dr. Sara Humphreys 22:15
Great.You're making my heart sing hearing that.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 22:18
Oh, it's true. It's true.

So, so these courses at web courses have been offered face to face in previous years. So now that most of the fall courses will be online for like the whole university, what can it student or students expect? The course to look like in general? So like, what will the course content look like? What types of assignments will they have to complete? Like, what are they going to expect to learn all of all of that?

Dr. Erin Kelly 22:54
Um, do you mind if I start this? I'm looking at you, Sarah?

Dr. Sara Humphreys 22:58
Oh.

Dr. Denae Dyck 22:58
Sorry. I feel like you are the perfect person to answer that question.

Dr. Sara Humphreys 23:03
Okay, no pressure. Um, yeah, sorry. So this is Sarah. And so what we what we're doing is running a course that is basically, all based around, students being able to interact with each other and interact with the professor instead of feeling like they're taking a course with a computer. Okay, so there's, yeah. And so in the business of online learning, this is called a discussion forum based course. And what that means is students will come in, and they'll subscribe to these discussion forums. And some of them are looked like they're very what's called low stakes, meaning like, it's worth 2% of the course grade. Some of them are about practicing skills for the larger assignments. And then there's discussion forums that are just for fun. And the reason why we use discussion forums and not some other fancier zoom like not that we won't have zoom meetings of students want them will have some synchronous elements in there for sure. But we're very cognizant that students may not have a data plan that supports zoom. There's there's also other technical problems. So for example, if you have a Chromebook, and a lot of BC students do have Chromebooks because a lot of BC high schools use G Suite, or Google suite. Not Chromebook actually isn't supported in the zoom breakout rooms. And so that because it becomes difficult, right?

So it's like, we start out with a tech survey to see where everybody's at, where are they in the world. And then we really build those discussions around the students and the students then are in groups of 6 to 10. And they interact with each other all term. They don't have to talk group work. It's not graded, but it's just that you're with those students and then it becomes a much more intimate experience than having trying to deal with if you're in a discussion with 30 people. Yeah, And you know, we can move the groups around. And they can be different. We have library seminars, so we have some sort of fun, interactive elements. Yeah, so the whole course is very, I hear student centered a lot. But if you're going to run discussion forums that actually makes them student centered, we also have teaching assistance, which is amazing.

So when a student posts it, so outlook, for example, all of the assignments are in discussion forum. So if you have a question about an assignment, you ask it in, you open a thread, and you ask a question, and somebody comes in right away and answers. And then there's other discussion forums that are just for fun. That one is called a rave and rant room where you say, what, what's great, like you asked this, or that this or that, and a lot of students, the students really kind of like that. And we, you know, we interact a lot in there. So there's activities that are outside of class assignments, there's, there's a focus on supporting students through class assignments. And everything is, is really centered around something called low bandwidth teaching. So if you don't have a great data plan, if you are in a house where you have five people sharing a laptop, which happens, yeah, it's cool, it's fine. we've, we've designed the course for that eventuality.

And then multiple modes of learning meaning lectures will be there'll be like, there could be lecture notes, there might be audio, and there might be video, so and everything will be posted. Right. I will say one more thing. I don't want to take up too much time. But the other thing, that element of this is great. And Brightspace, which is our brand new learning management system with no more core spaces, is that modules open up every two weeks. So you're not students are led through the course. But you have two weeks in a module and you learn. Some instructors are spreading that topic. It's a topic that you cover for three weeks, just like if you were in the class, you wouldn't come in the first day of class and have every professor throw everything on a table and say jump in everybody learn everything all at once. Instead, it's broken up through weeks, right? So that's what we're doing and everything is released so that students don't have to worry they will be guided through the course. That's all I have to say. And I'm actually really looking forward to it.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 27:15
Awesome. Yeah.

Dr. Erin Kelly 27:17
I have a couple of things to say. So, for starters, I noticed that when Sarah was describing some of those things, like you know, this will be this way there will be this in this course there will be this, I think it would be appropriate to be able to say that, you know, one of the things that has been part of our timeline, we had the the university in March was up until March was offering face to face classes. And then of course, we quit pivoted to online, it became clear immediately after that, we were told that all summer courses would be online. And we actually ran several sections of 135. This summer, as the course coordinator for 135, Sarah Humphreys actually created an online version of 135 for the summer, and is right now wrapping up teaching one of those sections. And one of the things then that's been involved in this getting ready for Fall is Sarah Humphreys designing an outline and a plan for a fall online version of 135 in Brightspace, that's actually based on the experience of all of the instruction that's gone on over the summer. And so and also based on a lot of training and a lot of background knowledge.

So I think what you're hearing here is someone who has this experience and this knowledge and this training, who's put a lot of work into setting up an online course that actually is going to do that that is in line with the principles that we try to bring to a face to face course. Because here's what I would say it's possible to teach a face to face course. But just because people are all physically in the same room together doesn't necessarily mean that there's a lot of direct engagement between the instructor and the students, much less between different students in the class among different students in the class.

So with 135 classes when they are face to face, we emphasize by having students sometimes work in pairs sometimes work as peers looking at each other's work in progress, sometimes by having class discussions or group activities or group discussions, or, you know, mini lectures and question to answer and all different kinds of activities and engagements in the face to face class sessions. The reason that we do that in a face to face class, I think, is because we realize that no one ever writes alone. Writing is an inherently social activity. When you're writing, you're writing to another human being at least one other human being who is not you and the way you get back At it is you engage with other human beings who can look at and think about and respond to and give you feedback on your writing. And we have to do that in face to face classes to be effective, we have to do that in online classes to be effective. And so we're finding all the ways to do that in an online course, and discussion forums are part of that. And some synchronous sections are part of that.

And I also think we have a great number of instructors, almost 30 instructors this fall, over the course of this academic year, and every single one of those instructors will bring experience and talents and different interests. And so I'm also expecting that, you know, we will have instructors who try out things with their classes, but always in line with that principle of we really need to be engaging, because that's, that's how writing works.

Dr. Sara Humphreys 30:56
Yeah, definitely. Thank you, Erin, that was really kind of you. And I'm a little embarrassed.

Dr. Erin Kelly 31:03
Right, you've done fantastic work so

Dr. Sara Humphreys 31:06
Well, well thanks.

Dr. Denae Dyck 31:08
And I think Erin and Sarah have described the ATWP 135 online very effectively, and very eloquently. And if I could just chime in a little bit on what Erin was saying about writing as a social activity. I think that one of the great things about the online course is that the discussion forum format gives people with a lot of opportunities for peer to peer interactions, where you have the chance to practice providing specific, constructive, generative feedback, which is one of those transferable skills that students can take from at wp 135. And apply that in other academic and professional and vocational contexts.

Anything that involves teamwork and communication, that's a skill set that this course really develops. And I'm excited that the discussion forum format may prompt more people to participate in more depth that they would, in a situation where 30 of us were meeting in the room. And perhaps you have five, six, maybe even 10 really going students who are willing to talk a lot, and that's great. But online courses, I think make it easier for those who might experience more anxiety speaking up in a face to face context, or who just might want more time to think about how they want to frame their interactions, the medium of writing it out and posting it in the discussion forum, allows for that kind of thoughtful reflection that I think can be encouraging for a lot of people who

Teresa Sammut (Host) 32:46
Mm Hmm, I definitely agree. And I think that's a really, really good feature. And as like a student myself, I find that it's really valuable to like, you know, be able to think on your feet and just like, you know, kind of say, your share your thoughts, but I think it's even more valuable to like, take the time to really think and reflect and then share. And again, I really agree what you said today, like, having that opportunity to like really deep in your thoughts and like share that and like people who have anxiety will be able to share a lot more and it'll be more lively, hopefully. Yeah, that's really cool.

Dr. Sara Humphreys 33:23
Is it not in Bright, there's just 10 seconds here than Bright. It's Sarah here. There's a really neat tool called chat. And it's not like chat and Coursespaces, which was good. Okay, it's fine. It's really basic, but in bright, it actually allows you to post pictures. And and it is it does have that immediate sense of communication. So I'm holding my office hours on both Zoom and the chat. Right. So there's lots of opportunities to to interactive if students want to. Yeah, well, thanks. Thanks for that. Yeah, yeah,

Teresa Sammut (Host) 33:56
No, I think that's great. So my next question,what should students be keeping in mind when they're completing online courses, specifically, ATWP 135? How can they adjust their usual you know, school habits to succeed and in this setting?

Dr. Sara Humphreys 34:20
I think Denae should take that one.

Dr. Erin Kelly 34:22
Yes, I agree.

Dr. Denae Dyck 34:24
To start off and maybe to link to something that already came up a little bit in our conversation about schedules and preferences for morning or afternoon classes. It's a great boon to people that an online asynchronous course allows them to fit their work into whenever they want it to fit in their work day or work week. But there's also another you need to step up and take the ownership of figuring out how you're going to plan your time and when you're going to schedule in your coursework. If you do not have to be in lecture hall. At 11:30 on Wednesdays, then you need to decide, you know, when are you going to spend that time on this coursework? And do you have, you know, the the physical space and the mental space carved out so that you can put in the effort that you need to be successful.

So figuring out that sort of balance between flexibility and structure, I think is key for students. And then as an instructor, I see my role as partly about helping to facilitate that balance for students, by being open being flexible when people need extensions on deadlines, but also providing the deadlines so that people can complete tasks in the right order in order to succeed. And having a regular rhythm for the week of the module, I think is really key and helping people to find their own rhythm, whatever that might be.

Dr. Sara Humphreys 35:58
Yeah, I couldn't agree more.

Dr. Erin Kelly 36:02
Yeah, I, I heartily agree with everything that Denae said. And yet, you know, I don't want to, I feel like I keep coming back to this theme. There are ways in which there are things that aren't all that different. Yes, there are things that are definitely different about being online. But I actually think we see particularly in a class like 135, that there are students where the transition from high school to university is very much a transition from having things more explicitly scheduled for you and broken down into having to be more responsible for managing your time managing your schedule, managing your work.

A lot of the work of university class takes place outside of the classroom, and takes place with students having to complete reading assignments, tasks, working on things studying on their own time. And so that sense of having to plan of wanting to be strategic of wanting to make some decisions about when things will get done, how many hours a week, how many hours leading up to an assignment being do. A student needs to basically book into their calendar, whether literally or simply, imaginatively. That's something I think 135 winds up at points explicitly. And implicitly, getting students to think about how to break down an assignment how to work on it, I mean, I'll back up a bit. By the time you're getting into a third year, fourth year, maybe even a second year class, students might take a course where they're told the last day of class you have a research essay, so you're gonna hand in this 10 page research essay? That that is 10. No, but like, you know, 10, that's 10 weeks from now. So like, go have at it.

And part of what we're doing a class like 135 is giving students a model of how you break down that large project, how you figure out how long each of the pieces will take, how to schedule it out, how to plan it, how to work through it, how to ask for help, when you need help, and what are the best places to ask for? So in some ways, I mean, I think what happens with an online class is it maybe makes that it needs to be even more explicit. Because yes, a student can conceivably do some things that are tasks related to the class at four o'clock in the morning if they want to, or at one in the afternoon. Or they can say that Sunday is going to be a 12 hour marathon of it's their one day a week to just be 135. And if that works for them, like superduper I've got no objections. But I think that the sense that part of being a successful university student face to face or online is always about students needing to be deliberate, and thoughtful and reflective about their own learning and their own work practices and the ways that they're managing complex tasks and complex projects. So the online environment makes it more crucial, but not necessarily different.

Dr. Sara Humphreys 39:45
Yeah, I guess the only thing I would add, Sarah here is just very briefly cuz I think everything's been said, but I want to I just, I just want to make it like really explicit that students all the way through high school and even a month My high school experience which was 1 million B.C--Time B.C.E. It's ah-- you don't, you don't have any autonomy really, unless you go to an alternative school. And suddenly you're thrust into the sublime. Whereas there instead, you're being asked to be responsible in many ways for your own learning. So you need to suddenly learn how to learn. And that is what we do in 135 is we teach you how to learn how to learn.

So how to so your professor gives you any, you know, this tree, so right, like, you know, like, we all know, like, you get all this information, and you're taking the notes. And then you get this assignment. And you're like, it's your there's the highest assignments in high school, right are just like, so explicit and blatant, and all that and overt, and it's not so, and university, and as you go through the years, they can become more and more esoteric. Yes, depending on who you're working with. Right? And so, yeah, so I just think that students just really do have to learn to trust, look, I guess, just trust themselves and build that confidence. And that can actually cause a lot of anxiety, and feeling and maybe even some resentment at because as you're learning that you're like, why, you know, why is this so damn hard? And it's because in high school, it's just the way that it's nothing to do with the teachers and everything. But it is the way in Western culture that we tend to treat it like an industrial sausage factory, is that that's terrible. Yeah, found tape now, find exactly how I feel. So there you go.

I think our high schools where you are taught critical thinking, and you have teachers who do that. Both curriculum, though, is very much structured that and because you're teaching all kinds of people, right, definitely want to go to university. So I think that's part of it. So it's not necessarily, you know, turning people out, although there is maybe that aspect to it a little bit. But I do think it's more about, you know, trying to cover so much material for so many different types of people.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 42:06
Definitely, yeah. And I think that, like, if you're starting, you know, university, and starting off your first term with this course, I think, just building off of what everyone has been saying this is, it's gonna really help you out and succeed, no matter what, and especially this term, especially, you know, with being online, and like, adjusting to, you know, different time settings and different expectations. And like, even as I'll tell you first years, even as a fourth, fourth year, like I still, it's a continual thing. And like everyone is still learning how to be better at these skills. So, right, you don't have to be an expert right away, because I certainly am not!

Dr. Erin Kelly 42:48
And when you when you talk about not being an expert right away, I think some of this is that in some ways, 135 is of course, is built with the assumption that students don't know everything that they need to know, that isn't meant to be insulting as as a statement, it's, it's, it's to say, you know, it's not going to hurt anyone to make something explicit. So 135 is a class where I think you're likely to find an instructor saying things like, because this assignment is due two weeks from now, between now and two days from now, you probably should have read the assignment sheet thought about a possible topic and checked in with me if you have questions. In another class, and instructor might not say that, but it still is exactly the right advice. The other, the other instructor might just think, well, of course, this is obvious, we just don't assume it's obvious.

Same same reason that I will tend to say to students, you know, the assumption when you design a university class, and this is a rule of thumb that I think most instructors get is that students can be expected to do approximately two hours outside of class for every one hour in class, give or take. So simply saying to students, if you are taking this class, you should be spending about six hours a week outside of class, give or take, on average, averaged out across all the weeks of the term on work for this class. I'm making that explicit help students make better choices, better decisions be more strategic. I don't think it's that other instructors don't have that expectation. They're just as sometimes theme. There's a way of operating that assumes that students enter university class already knowing.

Dr. Sara Humphreys 44:49
Well, and I think you know, one of the things that's really important for first year students to know is that teaching isn't all we do, right? If we have like three big jobs, we teach. And it's very important. And I'm an assistant teaching professor. So that is actually my central goal. But there's also research because we're supposed to add to the fabric of knowledge and better the world. And students are helping us to do that. And it's vice versa. And then three, we actually helped to govern the university. So as a course coordinator, that's an administrative position and I have all kinds of things I do. And like Erin's a director, and one day Denae will join these ranks and do those things. And so you know, professors who are not in right in are in a required class that set students up for success.

Instead teaching for example, about cetacean survival is they don't need to be that explicit. That's so we are here so that the students can go into that professors class, and the professor can say, here's a big project, and it's due at the end of the term and have at it the students. I know what to do. I know how to do that wasn't one more thing, and I'm sure you have more questions, Teresa, but I wanted to say to students, and to everybody, like, well, we really are all in this together to to quote like Bonnie Henry, in the sense of, look, I I've taught online, but it's not like that's all I've ever done. And it's like, I didn't do it for a few years. And I'm still like, an AMS and zoom. And I'm like, Where's the annotation tool? And how do I do a breakout room, you know, and it's, it can be really overwhelming. And I think if we just all cut each other some slack and just say, let's be flexible, and let's support each other, and we're gonna make this work.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 46:31
Definitely, I love that. Yeah. And I think just, as you said, just, you know, we're all in this together, and we all have the opportunity to support each other and, and make the best of the semester. And like, there's other opportunities for, you know, you to learn for you to be connected and to connect with your peers and your professors. And, yeah, that's, that's awesome. So, to leave off on a good note, what aspect of the ATWP are you most looking forward to this term, so it could be like teaching a certain assignment or certain element to the course or just yeah, any anything to do with the program and, and the start of the term.

Dr. Denae Dyck 47:20
There are-- this is Denae here, there are many aspects of ATWP 135 that I'm looking forward to. But among them are those opportunities for one to one connections with students or for us to work in small groups. Something that I plan to do this semester, that is a bit different than what I've done in face to face context in the past is have a research consultation in small groups at a specific point in the process of people devising their own topic and doing their own research. And this is similar to the genre of a proposal that people might write in other courses, where they, at that's a hypothesis, explain why it's important talk about their preliminary research. But I think that the format of a bunch of us chatting over Zoom, rather similarly to what we're doing this afternoon, could be a way of really catalyzing some ideas. And like Erinsaid, at the beginning of this session, it's an opportunity for me to to learn more about people's research interests and discover things in other fields that I hadn't thought about before. So that's something that's I'm definitely looking forward to.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 48:36
Oh, that's awesome. That'll be so exciting. And like, I think, yeah, having that conversation with students and like really working it out. And like, having the opportunity to discuss it as well, like, I think will be really beneficial to students. That's another good skill to have, too.

Dr. Denae Dyck 48:51
Yeah, writing is a process and that work of conversation can be where a lot of productive things happen.

Dr. Sara Humphreys 49:00
Yeah, I mean, I'm, I'm teaching one section of this term. So Denae is teaching more than that. So thank you for that. And I like today, I do love the research consultations, they are just a lot of fun. But I am also looking at editing, some of workshop for video editing, and I'm actually looking forward to making little clips of my pets and then inviting students to post pictures of their of, you know, something that's, I want to see how we can how we can interact. You know, yes, I have the assignments and and the research consultation. I'm looking forward to all of that, but I really, really enjoy the process of getting to know my students.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 49:43
Mhm.

Dr. Sara Humphreys 49:44
That is a part of the classroom. I mean, doing that have like at the end of class when I mean, if you're a first year student, you may not know this, you come up, stand in line and you you maybe I remember doing this in high school too, and you know, you have questions for your teacher, but then you end up getting into a conversation with a bunch of People who may be waiting there to, or at the beginning of class before class starts, you kind of have a chat, your professor may be eavesdropping and jump in and say something. So, you know, those are the moments I really love. And I am trying to recreate those online, I think they can be recreated online. So that's what I'm looking forward to.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 50:19
I love that. Yeah, like, I think as a student, I, I really value relationships with like, my peers. And I've even made like, really amazing friends through a lot of my classes. And I really value the connection that I have with my professors, because I don't know, I just, I really, I just really cherish like, what they have to share. And a lot of the time, we're not alone. Like most of the time, if I have a really great connection with the professor, like, it just is very memorable to me. And it's just a very valuable experience. It's not just like, okay, yeah, I paid for this class. And I learned all this. It's all done. It's I'm taking this forward with me and I had a really great experience. So I think that's great.

Dr. Erin Kelly 51:07
And I guess I would say, there's two things I'm looking forward to this fall, unfortunately, one of the things I don't get to look forward to is teaching a section of 135. Because I've my administrative role I've, I've got other things that I'm assigned to do. But one thing I'm really looking forward to is that this is a project that's been in the works for a while, but that got sped up considerably. We for a long time, one of our textbooks that we regularly used was a handbook that we self published, we've now actually shifted to starting this fall, but we'll be using an open educational resource textbook that for now we've got self published on a platform called press books, it will eventually be revised and expanded. And it will wind up being an open educational resource open textbook freely available on B.C. campuses platform.

One of the reasons I'm really excited about this is that this is a project that has gotten a lot of us to think hard about what's most important to us, when we teach writing, when we get students to think about writing, we get students to engage in writing. So I think the book itself is not like anything else that's out there. And I'm also excited because unlike a paper book where you draft something, and yes, you get feedback, and yes, you get people to read it and give you comments and you revise. But once it's actually published and on paper only, but so much revision and changing can take place. Because this is an open access electronically published textbook, we're actually going to be able to add to it and make changes to it and revise it and be responsive with it over the course of the year. So this is the year in which we're simultaneously using this new tool that you know, this new textbook that we've created. But also we're going to be able to keep working on it and making it better and making it richer and making it more responsive to students needs and interests. And I think that's a really exciting and new way of thinking about educational resources. And I'm thrilled to have this program be part of that kind of project. And I also want to say just, you know, this is a time when phrases get have been thrown around unprecedented times new normal, etc, etc.

Dr. Sara Humphreys 53:37
A lot of the time.

Dr. Erin Kelly 53:38
There's lot of stuff going on right now!

And in the middle of all of this, this is a time when I think everyone, not just university students, but also university students, everyone is trying to learn a lot of new things. You know, we are literally trying to learn a little bit about how epidemiology works. We are trying to learn a little bit about public health. We are trying to learn a little bit about how respiratory diseases spread and don't spread. We're trying to learn about how effective online education works. And we're trying to learn, you know, so I've said for a long time that when I talk to students about research, when I talk to instructors about teaching research, that research is just the university's term of art for human beings teaching themselves about something.

And of all the times when I think students can benefit from chances to learn new and effective ways to teach themselves about something, and ways to share what they've learned as they've taught themselves about something and to understand all the different ways you can teach yourself about something. Now's the moment. And so this is a class that I think is important all the time. It feels really necessary. Right now it feels like a class that will really be equipping students for not just succeeding in university, not just passing courses, not just getting a degree, but really helping them to move through the rest of their lives. And I couldn't be prouder of the team of people I get to work with to do this really kind of amazingly dazzlingly important project.

Dr. Sara Humphreys 55:41
It's free. There's no textbook.

Dr. Erin Kelly 55:44
It's free!

Teresa Sammut (Host) 55:45
Yeah, I was about to say, I think I still have my own little book. I still haven't, I still use it. But I think that's amazing. It's, it's providing more accessibility. It's more collaborative. And, you know, you can update it. And yeah, just suit the needs of students and the course and everything like that. And I think what you all said has been very, very eye opening and just really important for a lot of us all to hear. Yeah, thank you for that. Yeah. So that's it for this episode. Thank you all so so much for coming on and discussing with me all of the ins and outs of the ATWP and this is gonna provide like a lot of wonderful insight for you know, first year students and anyone who's thinking of going and enrolling in a course like this. So yeah, that's all for this episode. But if you're tuning in, be sure to check out our next few episodes in this series ubik and the online classroom where we will be interviewing instructors from the faculties of science, social science, and the fine arts. So that's it. Bye for now, folks.

[Episode 2] UVic and the Online Classroom: Science

Teresa Sammut (Host) 0:15
Hello UVic student community, and welcome to Meet Me in the Quad, your UVic Student Life podcast, brought to you by UVic's Office of Student Life. My name is Teresa and I'm a fourth year English major, and I will be hosting Season One of the podcast.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 0:34
Meet Me in the Quad is being recorded on the traditional territories of the Lekwungen peoples. We would like to acknowledge with respect the Songhees, Esquimalt, and WSANEC peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 0:50
In today's episode, we're going to be exploring UVic and the online classroom through the Faculty of Science. Today a professor from the Faculty of Science has joined us to chat about what some of their courses will look like this term and share advice about how students can best succeed. On this episode, we are joined by Dr. Gregory Beaulieu, associate teaching professor, undergraduate advisor and Professor of Biology 150A, which is modern biology, and Biology 184, which is evolution and biodiversity. So, thank you so much for joining me. How are you doing? How is your summer been?

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 1:32
My summer has been extraordinarily busy. I was teaching two courses during the summer online, so I've had to adapt all my material for the online format. So it does give me some experience fortunately, in that these two courses were doubled up courses. In the summer the terms are six weeks rather than 12 weeks.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 1:51
Oh, wow.

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 1:53
Busy adapting things and so I you know, I've learned a thing or two and I was glad to have the opportunity. I guess you can say I experimented on a small number of people and then, and now we're looking at several hundred students in September, of course, in both courses.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 2:13
Wow, that's a lot.

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 2:15
Well, we're looking at, I think it's about 800 people in 184, about 450 in 158.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 2:22
Definitely. Great. So, um, just before we start our conversation, I just wanted to do a little icebreaker, a fun segment that we have on our podcast. It's called "This or That". So basically, there are some areas of like campus life where our community is pretty polarized. So for instance, where is the best study spot on campus or where is the best place to buy coffee? We've identified a few of these areas and we want to hear where you fall. All right. Does that sound good?

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 2:59
That sounds like a challenge, but I'll do my best.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 3:02
Okay. So we're just going to present you with two ideas or concepts and then you'll just have to choose between this one or that one. Okay. So, this or that. Do you prefer questions during office hours or through email?

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 3:21
Office hours, you can have a more extended discussion in office hours. You can have more of an exchange during office hours. The emails can go back and forth, but I think students might be inhibited from asking questions that are too detailed in an email. And also sometimes, the best questions are perhaps the vaguest questions, or to the student. I mean, so often happens as people can say, I know this sounds stupid, but... and then they ask the world's best question. And so maybe they hesitate to commit themselves in print, in writing to what they consider a stupid question. But just in person, they can they can ask away. So I think the discussion is a little bit more productive during office hours,

Teresa Sammut (Host) 4:13
Definitely. And there's still opportunity, I assume, like during this term as well to have office hours, like through Zoom, is that how you'll do it?

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 4:23
In the two courses I'm involved with, we'll have regular Zoom office Hours once a week. So for example, Biology 184. We'll be having Zoom office hours three times during the day on Monday, every Monday. So the students can just drop in and drop out. The attendance is not required, but we have scheduled the times so that they don't conflict with any other student obligations. So student will not have some other class at that time. We would encourage students to certainly show up with any questions they have.

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 4:59
There is a kind of an intimidation factor during a regular school year. If you think about it, a high school student in June of their final year of high school would be in a class of 30 or 25 or 30 students, and then three months later, they're in a class of 350 students. It can be hard to just make people know you're there, you know, you can just drift through kind of anonymously. But if you just make people remember you, I mean a good way of course, but make people know you're there. And one way is getting to know your students, your fellow students, and your TA, ask your TA about their research. They'd be happy to tell you. And talk to your professors. So many students are intimidated by by a professor's office. But that is unnecessary and it's kind of speed bump. You have to get over as your a first year student. So just general advice and being a student and general advice in life, outside academia, is talk to people, you know? Yeah, especially this time, because your interactions with people are rarer, and therefore much more valuable.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 6:20
Definitely. And honestly, sometimes, even in previous academic terms, office hours weren't always scheduled to accommodate all student schedules, right. So I think this is a great opportunity to, you know, get to know your professors and ask important questions and get that, like, face to face time, which is so important.

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 6:42
And I will say that a student might have a pressing matter. Maybe you can't wait till the next office hour. Maybe there's some time conflict. We are open to making Zoom appointments outside office hours. I'm a full-time instructor, so you won't be interfering with some world changing other work I'm doing. So, you know, I, even during regular years I would have open office hours. I have an open door policy. Sometimes I'm in meetings, sometimes in other classes. But as long as I'm in my office students would be welcome to drop by out of the blue and I could usually deal with a question. And so we're transferring that to this new environment. And if you can't wait till next Monday, if you have to talk to me or one of the other professors in the course right away, you're quite welcome to ask for Zoom appointment.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 7:38
That's awesome. Great. All right. So the next one, this or that, labs or lectures. Which do you prefer?

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 7:51
It's like saying which do I prefer, speaking or writing or you know, library or nature, labs and lectures. They certainly overlap, but they are complementary to some extent. I mean, you have to know physically how to do stuff in science. And you have to have a personal experience with life. At the same time, part of being an academic, part of being a rational person, is knowing how to listen to other people, knowing how to read, knowing how to write. So I'm going to violate the spirit of this conversation by saying I can't between labs and lectures. Biology 184 does have both. And we, I'll just say in Biology 184, the person coordinating labs, Dr. Katie Hind, has worked through this course this summer with a small number of students and has come up with a lot of really good labs. In biology, you might not think of it, but you're surrounded by biology. Even in your home you're surrounded by biology, going to your kitchen, there's nothing but biology in your kitchen. You go outside you're surrounded by biology, even if you live in New York City. So she has taken advantage of that fact about life to put together some very, very useful labs. So I think the students in biology will be very pleased by that. Biology 150A is not a lab course. It's taken by students with no biology or with perhaps some biology, but they don't need the lab course. So that's the structure of those two courses.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 9:27
Awesome. All right.

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 9:29
I'm sorry for bailing on your question.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 9:31
Oh, that's okay. You can answer however way you like.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 9:36
Okay, so last one, Charles Darwin, or Gregor Mendel.

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 9:44
You know, those two guys were opposites. Yeah. Charles Darwin was born into a wealthy family. He never had a paying job in his life. He never needed to work for a living. He had investments that provided income, he wrote books that sold a lot So he was very rich and very sick. He was ill most of his life. So he was battling illness most of his life. So there was that about him. He was famous in his day. Everyone knew during his life that he was living a historically significant life. And so there's a lot we know about him,

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 10:21
Gregor Mendel came from a poor peasant family, he never graduated university. He was in a university, but in his second year, his father had an accident on the farm, and could no longer send money to him. So he had to drop out and find a job and the job he found was a monk in the monastery. So he, to some extent, he was a hard luck story. He managed to overcome these these circumstances by doing very important scientific work. Unfortunately, it was not recognized during his life. And so it is kind of a tragedy that he died without the acclaim that he really deserved. Without receiving the fulfillment as a scientist that he deserved. So asking me, if I could transport myself back to the 19th century, I think I'd choose Darwin and his illness and Gregor Mendel in his obscurity. But that is an interesting choice because they represent opposites in almost every facet of their life. Mendel never had a family, never married, obviously a monk. Darwin had a very large family, had 10 children with his wife Emma, Darwin had enormous amounts of adventure in his life, at least when he was a young man. The only adventure I know in Mendel's life is he and his monk friends went to England for a holiday for a month. That was about all the adventure he had. So I guess it depends on whether you prefer to be rich and famous but sick, or poor and obscure, but healthy. So again, it's not an easy choice, either.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 12:00
It really isn't.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 12:05
That's all good. All right, so I wanted to ask you about your two courses for the fall term here. So would you mind going into a little bit more detail about Modern Biology, and Evolution and Biodiversity? So just kind of explaining like, who should enroll in them? What the typical structure of these courses are like, and perhaps like some of the key lessons that students will learn in each of these courses?

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 12:35
Sure, hmm. Well, Biology 150A is an introduction to biology intended for people who don't plan on majoring biology, who either are interested in learning a bit of biology or have a biology as a requirement of their program. For example, the BA in psych requires 150A. It does not assume any biological knowledge. It helps if you have a little bit of chemistry. It's not required, but so much a functional biology comes down to chemistry, that a little bit of chemistry even from high school would help. But as I say, it's not required. There are no labs. So it's three hours lecture per week. Biology 150A. I take the first month of it, and I talk about evolution and genetics and history of life. My friend David Punzalan comes in in October, he talks about biodiversity. So all of biodiversity in one month. That's a challenge.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 13:36
Yeah, wow.

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 13:37
Millions of years and about 4 million species and he covers them in one month. So that'll be a fun ride.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 13:44
What a challenge.

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 13:46
Well, it's more than a challenge. It's an absolute impossibility. Everyone who does this does the best they can. And then Hugh MacIntosh comes in at the end in November and discusses ecology. He was interesting. He hasn't taught this course before. He's a graduate of the UVic Biology department. He was an honors student back in, I think 2008. He later went on to do a PhD, he spent 10 years in Australia. And now he's back and he's teaching here. So that's the material that we covered. It's it's certainly more, I would say more student friendly, because it connects students with parts of biology, they probably already like. I mean, if you like to hike in the woods, or if you like, playing with your dogs and your cats, you know, you look at biology from an ecosystem level or diversity level. Biology 150 B in January, is more functional in it's treatment. You're going to do a little bit of chemistry, how cells work and then plant and animal physiology. So these two kinds of biology do appeal to different people. You know, I don't want to say one kind of person, but you will find a lot of people might have a stronger preference for one kind of biology than the other kind of biology. So to be a biologist, that that's not much typological significance. There are many different kinds of biologists. There are biologists who, they're called lab rats, they sit in the lab all day, they never go outside, but they're good biologists. So that's the structure of 15OA. And so we don't assume any biology, we don't assume any chemistry but if you have a smattering of these things, that's fine. You can take these courses 150A and 150B if you do have high school biology, so that doesn't disqualify you from taking them. But it is not required that you have high school biology.

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 15:52
Biology 184 is paired with Biology 186, which will be in January. Biology 184, well, we talk about history of life, how organisms are classified, then we have a more extended diversity section that lasts a month and a half and, then at the end, there's a section on genetics and evolution. So it's a fuller treatment than 150A. We don't have ecology, though, in 184. And students might be interested to know this about the publication trade. A lot of intro biology texts come in two flavors. They come as the majors text, which is typically 1000 or 1100 pages long. And then the baby text which is maybe 600 or 700 pages long and the baby text is essentially a condensation of the main text. Those are the texts, we're using these courses. So in 184, 186, we use the majors text, you could use it to weight train and then you'd get very strong after six months. Then the baby text, that condensed version of that same text, is what we use in 150A/B.

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 17:05
184 is, as I said, it's a lab course. And I know everyone's worried about the labs and everyone in UVic, and everywhere else is worried about the labs are going to offer. And the students are kind of wondering about the labs are going to get, and I can't speak for my colleagues and other departments. But biology labs do connect more naturally to the world around you. And so we have, as I say, Dr. Katie Hind, who's organizing them has really worked hard to make them worthwhile. And the trial run of this course this summer suggests that she has really succeeded. So the students will be doing a lot of interesting biology on stuff just around them. We even have a microscope for you to buy, the fold scope, essentially a little paper microscope.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 17:57
Oh, that's fun.

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 17:58
You can't get, we can't send through the mail a $2,000 microscope, but we can get you to buy this this fold scope, as it's called, for a few dollars. That's part of the package you get from the Bookstore with your lab manual.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 18:10
That's really cool. That's really interesting for the labs as well. Are you able to speak a little bit more about them? Will some of them be in person or will they be facilitated online?

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 18:24
Yeah, so none of them are in person. Okay. They do require, unlike the lectures, they do require a specific time commitment. So, you have to be at a certain place, well you have to be online rather, at a certain time, every week. There are Zoom sessions. And it's not just all the students in one Zoom session. There are breakout rooms that four students can go into, four students per breakout room, and they can have discussions and come back to the main room. So there is some student interaction there, as well as different kinds of activities and assignments. There are quite a few small activities and assignments peppered through the term that the student will do just to keep them engaged. So for the labs, you do have the time commitment, but certainly not an in person commitment. And I know that there are students in Asia and Europe students in Latin America students elsewhere in North America following this course. So, timezones might be an issue for some students, but that's the structure.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 19:23
Yeah. Okay. That's awesome. A lot of people will be happy to know the structure for that type of course. So, how many hours a week do you expect students to spend on this course typically, or both courses typically?

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 19:42
Yeah, well, you're going to be, every Friday in both courses, every Friday, we're going to post 3 30-minute PowerPoints. And what we're doing is we're narrating, we're sharing PowerPoints. We're narrating them which you can do in PowerPoint. And then we're converting those to an mp4.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 20:02
Oh, so they can listen.

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 20:03
They could listen and watch and they can stop, it can go. And they're not, it's not time dependent. They can, they can work through this on their own, according to their own schedule. So it'll be every Friday, we're committed to doing this on a regular basis. So the students will know when and where to look for these new PowerPoints. The PowerPoint, the narrated PowerPoints, are converted to an mp4 format, and then there's a tool called Kaltura which takes that mp4 and is able to convert that into something that a student can watch without having PowerPoint. So you don't need PowerPoint, you don't need Kaltura on your computer. You can just click on this and it'll open and you can watch your lecture. You can't download it, so you have to go on the website to look at it. But as I say you can look at it and go through it as you need. So that's going to be a 90 minute commitment. You should understand that you're going to be taking notes. So maybe double that, you're talking about maybe three hours, which is the normal lecture commitments you would have during such a course, I would expect, but you could, you can count on perhaps three to five hours a week with textbook and doing problems and so on. And then the lab, that's going to be three hours a week plus some prep. I think some people, if they work efficiently, might be able to do it in less time.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 21:38
That's awesome.

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 21:39
I mean, of course, that sounds like a heck of a lot of work, but as I say, yeah, you know, you can find shortcuts. In K-12 education, your time is blocked out for you.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 21:52
Definitely, yeah.

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 21:53
In university there is, you know, yourself and your own experience. It's more up to you and, and especially in this new environment, so there, you don't have other people and a lot of time commitments pulling you along. And this will be a difficulty that students will have to face, they just have to notice that if you are disciplined about time, or if you are able to schedule things, if you can focus when you need to focus and you don't waste time, those are going to be very valuable gifts for you.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 22:27
Yeah, definitely. Yeah, it can be a little bit of a challenge, especially when you're not, like, physically, you know, going to campus, coming back or like, you know, doing the usual things that we all would do during normal term. But know this, all the first years, that everyone is going through the same kind of process and we're all learning together but, you know, it's kind of up to you and like, how much effort you kind of put into your schoolwork and, you know, it's a learning opportunity for sure.

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 23:02
And if I can give a couple of very specific items of advice, and I think these are quite important. We, all of my colleagues and I, have spent a lot of time thinking about things from the students point of view, because we understand that going to university, especially in their first year, it's a big deal, you know, it's a landmark in your life, and it's very different this year. Now, I've thought about a student's experience, just on a daily basis and here's what happens. You go to a class, you take notes, you talk to your friends, hopefully not during class. And then the class is over, you get up, you go get a coffee, maybe go to the library, maybe you go to another class. The point is, you're interacting with other people. And most people derive energy from that. Even if it's interacting with people you don't know, just being surrounded by other human beings, there's a certain amount of energy that magically comes to you. Also, just moving between buildings, you might have a 10 minute walk. If one class is in Bob Wright, and your other one is over in the law school, you know, that's a 10-minute walk. That's not just a break. That's processing time. You're not aware, but you're processing stuff. As you go from class to class. And there's something about walking that encourages thought, there's something about just a change in physical environment.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 24:25
Definitely.

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 24:25
You don't have that when you're working at home. So I suggest students think about trying to replicate that. So people, maybe you live alone, maybe you live with others, family, or roommates, interact with them. And you can replicate the experience of walking between classes- walk around the house, walk to the end of the block and back, walk around the block, walk around the neighborhood. These don't have to be concerted, prolonged urban hikes. They're just little processing breaks. So I would encourage you to do that. Go to places where there are people. If you can just hang around in malls, you're going downtown, just being surrounded by anonymous people. That is, it's more valuable than you might think. And as I say, I'm trying to think of ways that students can replicate the normal student experience. So those are two suggestions I would make and I know another of my colleagues have said over in her department, they're trying to get students away from their screens.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 25:29
Yes.

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 25:29
They're going to be spending so much time on their screens, so much time with this one device, with a laptop or something. We want to get, you have to do it, but you want to get away from that when you can get away from that.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 25:43
For sure. It can be, yeah, like just very, very draining. If you're like, constantly anxious about those types of things or are just always plugged in. And I think that's really great advice. You know, just taking the time to step back and like getting that, as you said, that time to process, like, what you've learned and a little bit of time to like decompress. And, you know, you can grab a little tea, a little coffee, walk around. And I think that's a really, really good tip for students, especially, you know, first years who are just kind of getting used to it and yeah, who probably need a little bit more time doing that kind of activity.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 26:22
So, I'll just ask you a few more questions here. So what have been, like, the the perks, and I guess challenges for preparing for these courses? In general?

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 26:35
Well, I have to say I like Frederick Nietzsche, because of the old saying, "what doesn't kill me makes me stronger." So in other words, the good things and the bad things are the same thing. So in preparing my lectures, I've had to be a bit more disciplined about what I talked about. In class, I might go on some pointless digression, but that doesn't really fly. That tests the students' patience when they're online. So I've had to trim things down a little bit.

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 27:06
I've had to, I had to be aware of how much expression, how much meaning is conveyed by my voice. So if you're physically in front of students in class, you're walking around, you're waving your arms around, and it's amazing how much information you can express simply by waving your arms in space. So I can't do that anymore. And these are narrated PowerPoints, you know, I'll appear just as an intro and at the end, but I won't my physical presence won't be there, I don't want to do that. I don't want to be a little figure in the corner. So I've had to think about training my voice the way an actor would train their voice. I have no experience in drama except in high school. But I realized that it's a different format. And so I do have to pay more attention to the quality of my voice and what it's saying. So that is something I've been aware of. And it has broadened my experience somewhat or my awareness of students' experience. So we are, all of us, I'm trying to think of it from a student's point of view. And I'm certainly doing that more than I might have during a regular year.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 28:26
Interesting. Yeah, that's really cool. I never thought of like, having, to do that type of preparation for a course. But that's, it's really interesting.

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 28:37
Well, it started when I, you know, I prepared the lecture and then I played it back, and I thought "ohhhh, it's horrible." It's ridiculoous.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 28:44
[Laughs]. Yeah. It can be hard, listening to your own voice. I'm gonna have to do that soon, because I'm gonna be editing these soon.

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 28:51
It takes a lot of courage to listen to your own voice.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 28:54
Yeah, definitely. So what aspects of Biology 150A and Biology 184 are you most looking forward to this term?

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 29:06
Well, I'm most looking forward to, I guess the result. And the result is in terms of student interest.

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 29:16
Sometimes, and don't tell anyone this, sometimes in 150A, we're trying to recruit people as biology major. So we're trying to make biology more attractive as a potential major than they might have considered before the course. So we're trying to interest students in biology but we're also trying to interest students in studying biology at a more advanced level. You know, I teach a course called "The Biology Behind the News. It's just ended. And certainly the 20th century is, the 21st century, excuse me, is the century of biology. There's no question, just look at the state we're in. The state we're in is all biology. Climate change, all biology. Growing problems. Antibiotic resistance among bacteria. That's biology. So the 21st century is the century of biology. And so a little bit of rough and ready biology is really essential for anyone, I think. And it's in terms of where interesting science is. I'm biased, of course. But I think biology, if you think about biology as a whole, the number of interesting questions and interesting areas in biology is just, it's just enormous. And so there's biology for everybody. I think.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 30:33
That's great. Yeah. And I think these courses that you're teaching are really, really like ways of, you know, other students can access that type of scientific information. And if you're really, you know, passionate about it, and you're a bit unsure, like, I feel like these would be really good courses to kind of dive into it. And you know what I mean? Yeah.

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 30:58
Yeah. And, you know, in, especially in Biology 184, where there are labs, we do focus on things like plagiarism. You tell students, what is plagiarism, what isn't? We tell students how to research something where to go online. And we educate students in the honest confront confrontation of data. You know, science doesn't, science doesn't, science is good place to develop intellectual honesty. You know, you judge according to the evidence, and I'm not saying that all scientists do that all the time. Everybody's human, and everybody has faults, but the ideal in science is intellectual honesty. And, you know, we try to, especially in the labs, we try to convey that to the students.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 31:52
That's really cool and like, that'll be really important information to carry forward if they decide to do even more courses in biology or other departments within sciences, which is awesome.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 32:07
One last question. I know you already gave some really great advice. But do you have any parting thoughts or advice for any incoming students to the faculty at all?

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 32:20
Well, I think students probably are getting their fill of advice this month, or I have no more advice. I have an observation to make. For many students, most of the students in this course, or in these courses have just come out of high school. So for a lot of students, this is their first encounter and involvement with actual history. This is the first actual history they live in. And if you think about, if you think about that, this is connecting everybody with history. It's connecting people with previous generations: the generation that endured World War One, the generation that endured World War Two, to the generations that went through the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, we almost blew up the whole world, the lunar landing in 1969. Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, 9/11 in 2001. You know, when these things happen, you know, you're living through history, and it connects you with previous generations who have endured, well, both the good and the bad parts of history. So I think students who are living through this time, despite all its challenges, are being connected with the human race and human history in ways that in normal time, maybe they wouldn't. So I don't know what you're gonna do with that, as I say, it's just an observation. But you can you can now regard yourself as having joined the parade of human history.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 33:49
That's great. Yeah, I totally agree with that. And I think if you kind of keep that in mind, you're kind of also acknowledging that you're also a part of the human condition, the human process of all of this. So it's not just like, "oh, this, this whole year is terrible because this, this and this, and it's only because of all of this," but you know, it's, it's just history.

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 34:18
Talk to your parents, talk to your grandparents, find out what they went through.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 34:21
Definitely.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 34:22
All right. Well, thank you so, so much for coming on to our podcast today. And I really appreciate you coming on to discuss, you know, Biology 150A and 184 with us. And I think this is going to provide, you know, a lot of really wonderful insight to a lot of new UVic students.

Dr. Greg Beaulieu 34:43
Yeah, of course.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 34:44
So that's all for this episode. And be sure to check out our next few episodes in this series, "UVic and the online classroom," where we'll be interviewing instructors from the faculties of social science and fine arts as well. So bye for now, folks!

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

[Episode 3] UVic and the Online Classroom: Social Sciences

Teresa Sammut (Host) 0:15
Hello UVic student community and welcome to meet me in the quad. Your UVic Student Life podcast. Brought to you by UVic's Office of Student Life. My name is Teresa and I'm a fourth-year English major and I will be hosting Season One of the podcast. Meet Me in the Quad is being recorded on the traditional territories of the Lekwungen Peoples. We would like to acknowledge with respect the Songhees, Esquimalt, and WSÁNEĆ peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.

So in today's episode, we're going to be exploring UVic and the online classroom through the Faculty of Social Science. So a professor within the faculty has joined us to chat about what their course will look like this fall, and share their advice about how students can best succeed. So, on this episode, we are joined by Dr. Jessica Rourke, professor from the Department of Psychology and instructor for Psych 100A this fall term. So how are you doing? How's your summer been?

Dr. Jessica Rourke 1:24
Well, thank you. Um, summer's been interesting hasn't felt too much like the typical summer?

Teresa Sammut (Host) 1:30
Yeah

Dr. Jessica Rourke 1:31
Yeah. A lot of work rather than rest and relaxation. But but it's been good. Lots of lots of new learning and looking forward to the new semester.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 1:42
Definitely. Yeah, that's kind of just been a consensus with, like, all of the professors I've been talking to like a lot of preparation, a lot of work.

Dr. Jessica Rourke 1:51
Yeah.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 1:53
Yeah. So before we start our conversation, I just want to start off with a little fun segment called this or that. So there are some areas of campus life campus culture, where I guess our community has pretty polarized opinions. So for instance, where to buy, you know, the best, or the cheapest textbooks, or where's the best study spots? So we've identified a few areas where we want to hear where you fall in this predicament.

Dr. Jessica Rourke 2:29
Okay.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 2:30
Yeah, basically will present you with two concepts, and you'll just have to choose between this or that.

Dr. Jessica Rourke 2:37
Okay.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 2:37
Okay. All right. So, this or that. So for tests, multiple choice, or short answers?

Dr. Jessica Rourke 2:48
Am I answering as a student or professor as a professor?

Teresa Sammut (Host) 2:51
Professor!

Or you can answer as both.

Dr. Jessica Rourke 2:57
Multiple choice is nice, I think because there's a machine that can read it for you. But even as a student, I think I'd go for short answer, because even if you don't know the answer, you can just make stuff up and hope you get partial marks.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 3:09
Yes.That's true. I've been there!

All right. Next one. making coffee at home or buying coffee on campus?

Dr. Jessica Rourke 3:22
I am definitely buying.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 3:23
Yes. Yeah. Where do you like to get your coffee?

Dr. Jessica Rourke 3:26
Oh, I will say I'm not a coffee drinker.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 3:29
Oh, tea?

Dr. Jessica Rourke 3:30
I do like the tea lattes and that kind of stuff. Soon, I'll be really anywhere. And that way I don't have to make it.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 3:39
Definitely

Dr. Jessica Rourke 3:40
Turns out really... it never turns out when I tried to make it.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 3:45
Okay, and last one.This or that. So, Freud or Pavlov?

Dr. Jessica Rourke 3:51
I might have to go with Pavlov. Really interesting. But yeah, I'd have to go as Pavlov

Teresa Sammut (Host) 4:00
Yeah, definitely. Definitely.

Okay, so in terms of psych 100A do you mind just like describing the in's and out's of the course. So, essentially, who should enroll? What's the typical structure of the course? Like What are the key lessons that students can expect to learn that kind of stuff?

Dr. Jessica Rourke 4:23
Sure.

Unknown Speaker 4:23
So it's the introductory to Psychology course. And it's divided into two. So, in January, they'll be offering the Psych 100B, the psych 100, a has more of a focus on the biological and cognitive aspects of psychology. So, brain stuff. So, we'll be talking about what is consciousness, the different types of dreams that people have, and the different ways that people learn and remember things. We'll be talking about sensation and perception and kind of like auditory and visual illusions. So, how is it that we're seeing something that's not quite there? That kind of stuff. So it's, um, it's actually quite interesting to understand how the brain works and--

Teresa Sammut (Host) 5:03
Definitely!

Unknown Speaker 5:05
Yeah, the ways it can be accurate and inaccurate and how that impacts our behavior. Um, anyone can take it, there's no prerequisites. So it's listed as a first-year psychology course. But it could begin by undergrads, grads, law students, it doesn't matter.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 5:21
So it's kind of open to everyone. And obviously, if you want to major in psychology, you have to take it. So there's my recommendation, take it!

Take it!

Dr. Jessica Rourke 5:32
But, you know, for me, I think that everyone should take a psychology course in their life at some point, definitely. We're all human, we're interacting with other people we're trying to figure ourselves out. And so this gives you a bit of a basis to form some knowledge on why people do the things they do say the things they say. I remember being an undergrad and a university was was coming to try to get us psychology undergrads to apply to their med school. They felt that or they believed that doctors were being turned out with really poor bedside manner. And so they figured that anyone who had an undergrad in psychology would be able to understand how patient might be feeling and the fears they might be going through and that they'd be more compassionate and therefore a better doctor. Find anything? Yeah. So I, I really recommend it to anybody and everybody.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 6:26
Definitely.

Dr. Jessica Rourke 6:28
I think you asked the typical structure?

Unknown Speaker 6:30
Yeah. Yeah, can you like the typical structure of the of the course.

Dr. Jessica Rourke 6:34
So if this were non-pandemic, like your day, we would be meeting three times a week on campus for 50 minutes each time. And there's about well, there's, there's about 1000 students in the course. Take it during the day. So we've got the day section divided into three sections. And then there's also a night section, which is a bit separate from us. But in the day section, there's, there's right now there's three of us that are kind of CO instructors teaching it. And so we'd be meeting for 50 minutes, three times a day, the two times we need, I think, would be like Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and that would be lecture style. So here's some information from the textbook, here's a little bit of extra information, maybe some discussion questions, that kind of stuff. And then the Friday would be a lot more interactive. So it would be hands on activities, maybe some videos, that kind of thing to really integrate and interact with the concepts that we learned earlier in the week.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 7:28
That's awesome. I remember, in my first year, I took psych 100A and B. And honestly, obviously, I'm not a psych major, I'm English major, but I really, really enjoyed it. And I definitely recommend it to anyone within any faculty, because, I mean, why not learn more about the human condition, and it even applies a lot to English literature. An I think that whatever faculty you're in, like, psychology does play a part. So it's really super important to take.

Dr. Jessica Rourke 8:04
We'll I'd agree, but people probably would say, I'm biased, but great, no, that's exactly the way I think about it.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 8:10
Definitely. So obviously, now, all of the courses this fall with will be online. So um, what can students expect the course to look like? So what will the revised content look like? assignments, all of that kind of stuff?

Dr. Jessica Rourke 8:29
Um, you know, I like I can, I can speak specifically to Psych 100. As far as I know, all undergrad courses are online, at least in our department, and they're gonna look different depending on the subject, and depending on the instructor. So for Psych 100A we spent a lot of time had a lot of meetings, as I said, there's three of us kind of co-teaching it, and really trying to figure out the best way, because there's so much information Hmm, how do you engage over 1000 students online. So you know, we hope we've come up with a good plan. And we so basically, we're going to have it be mostly what you could call an asynchronous, so that means you don't have to be there at a live set time. And for the most part, we do have one session that we're going to host live per week.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 9:21
Mm hmm.

Dr. Jessica Rourke 9:22
That's going to be you can come in and ask us questions. We might do a you know, spontaneous mini-lecture on a topic that people are struggling with.You will have prepared many activities and interactive stuff that we can put people into breakout rooms and, you know, a new way to kind of learn the material will do some, some reviews and study tips close to exams, that kind of stuff in those live sessions. So kind of 50 minutes once a week. But other than that, it's going to be, here's stuff you get each week, and you get to choose when you do it during the week. There are some due dates for assignments, but you kind of pace yourself. So they'll be one chapter that you're assigned to read each week and your short quiz about that chapter. I think there's 12 quizzes throughout the semester, and they have to complete eight or nine of them. So we're not asking them to do one every week, you can choose.

And we will have three mini lecture or sorry, three mini activities that we do each week that we post. And again, there'll be 30 of those throughout the semester, and we're asking that you do 23, and they help enhance your knowledge, maybe make it a little more fun to learn material kind of stuff. And then we're going to post what we call mini lectures. So we'll record many lectures each week, three or four each week to a maximum of 10 minutes each. And they're just on concepts that we know students tend to struggle with, or they're quite complicated, or concepts we know people find really interesting, or that we find really interesting. And we can kind of dive deeper into that.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 10:56
Can you give us a sneak peek to the topic?

Dr. Jessica Rourke 11:00
Sure. So um, you know, people will talk about lucid dreaming, so kind of sensation where you're like, you don't quite realize you're asleep. But you know, you're not awake and really weird, vivid things are happening in your brain. And so there's a little activity around that and around you kind of thinking about the way you dream and a little video related to that.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 11:23
That's awesome.

Unknown Speaker 11:24
Yeah, it's a way to try apply it to your own life and learn a few things.

Dr. Jessica Rourke 11:29
And then,yeah, that's and then there'll be discussion forums, because we want students to be able to connect with each other. So I think there's eight of those across the semester. And we ask that you do for people some choice, trying to give them a bit of flexibility as to when they do things each week, and trying to offer a little bit of live interaction. That's from my perspective, that's an important component as well.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 11:52
Yeah, definitely. And I think the way that you and your colleagues have really set up the course it sounds like it's very, like adaptable to a lot of people's, you know, schedules and especially like not everyone's going to be, you know, in the same timezone. So having that, like, asynchronous, like, layout is really good. And I think like having that one session where you can, like, you know, talk with people and have like those breakout rooms. Would you say like, that's more of like, a tutorial, I guess, in the sense. Yeah, I think that's really awesome. I kind of want to sign up again.

Dr. Jessica Rourke 12:28
You're welcome to join us. Happy to have you.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 12:32
I actually still have the textbook, which is pretty awesome. Later. It's a great textbook. I don't know if it's the same one. But for the two courses in there, I think they're the same. It's just maybe a different version

Dr. Jessica Rourke 12:44
Yeah, no, it's a great one. Great.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 12:48
As well, do you know how many hours a week that students will be expected to kind of like spend on this course, typically?

Unknown Speaker 12:59
It depends, I think the typical expectation, per course, per week is like nine hours. That's in general. And, you know, one thing we have learned, going to a lot of workshops and conferences and how to teach effectively online, tend to overestimate or sorry, underestimate how long it's going to take students to do work online. And they're like, Oh, you know, I'm posting an hour long recorded lecture. And they'll just watch that. And that's an hour of work.

Dr. Jessica Rourke 13:32
But what studies are finding is that it's actually taking students much longer to watch the hour long video isn't least an hour and a half. Because they're pausing it, they're taking notes, they're going back to check something that they might have missed. So it's not just like being in the classroom and, and having that one interaction. And so that's something we've been really, really mindful of, and why we've tried to give people some choice. And so you know, yeah, you you probably reading the chapter, if you attend the live sessions, you're probably looking at, you know, 9 to 10 hours a week that you want to be devoting. And that you know, includes reviewing materials studying a little bit, but I think to succeed in a courses, that's kind of expectation you need to set for yourself, I always have a son who's going to be going into his last year of high school this year. Mm hmm. You know, he's starting to think, when am I gonna do university or not, and the way he needs to approach it is it's, it's your job, your job is to be student. And so think of this as your full time job, and you may work another job. Mm hmm. That is your other part time job. This is your full time job. And that's the amount of time you should be spending on your courses. And so that's kind of the approach that I take.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 14:41
Definitely, I totally agree with that. And I think that, like especially now, it's just kind of been a big topic within you know, any university but like managing your time effectively, like this is the time to really practice that and like, again, like everyone is kind of like Going through it. So it's just even if you're an expert at it, you know, it's, you're going to learn how to manage your time more effectively, especially now, but it's really important you're going to have to learn.

Dr. Jessica Rourke 15:11
Yep, yes. And even the professors are like, okay, I need to be way more organized.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 15:17
Definitely. Yeah. Yeah, that's what I've been doing this summer to trying to be organized. So, speaking about that, what should students be keeping in mind when completing these online courses, especially within Psych 100A? How can they adjust their habits to succeed in this type of setting?

Dr. Jessica Rourke 15:41
Yeah, if that's going to be tough. Um, I think that as you said, the big thing is motivating yourself.

Find out how motivate yourself. And there's some you know, you can Google it. There's lots of neat blogs about how to motivate yourself, you know, the idea of, it's been fun to stay in pajamas all day. And do meetings, but you know, still being PJs and have your team, your breakfast as you're meeting that kind of stuff. A lot of the stuff, though, that I've been reading online is, if you're struggling with motivating yourself, it's actually a really good idea to act as if you're leaving to go to a face to face class or job at your office. So get dressed, have eaten, that's all done. And now you're focused on work have a set spot in your house where you go to use your brain knows Oh, yeah, no, it's time to work.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 16:31
Mm hmm.

Dr. Jessica Rourke 16:32
So having that kind of regular routine for yourself as if you weren't stuck in your house the whole time? Yes, it will help.

Um, I think, don't be afraid to reach out, I think that's gonna be so important. Because you know, something that happens in face to face sessions spontaneously is that students chat with each other before, after class during class. And so you know, you're much more likely to hear other people being like, oh, the workload is crazy. And this contract, whereas now you might think you're the only one feeling that way, and that can feel really lonely and scary, overwhelming, that kind of stuff. So to reach out to your instructors go to their office hours, they're going to obviously be online, but show up, get to know them, even if you don't have a question, just chat, and set up study groups with students, right, that's really easy to do.

Every UVic student has access to a free Zoom account, or a Microsoft teams account. Utilize those things. Have some study groups, get to know some people, if your professor doesn't already, do it. Ask if they can set up a discussion forum on the course, space that Brightspace. And that's just for students to post like, hey, anyone else totally not understanding epigenetics and chapter four? Hey, I wanting to study on the weekend, everyone want to join me in zoom. And so you can have kind of build those connections and find support, you know, within your peers in your course. And of course, as I said, don't be. Don't be afraid to reach out to your professors. We know this is brand new. We know people are nervous about it. We're nervous about it. We're sitting side by side through this. And so we're you know, we're there to support everybody.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 18:10
No, I think I think that's great. And especially what you said about like the study groups, and there's so many students in within that course I'm sure there's going to be so many who are be like, yeah, like I'm willing. And yeah, I think that's great. Yeah. And I think there's, especially people so some people might be a bit shy to speak to professors or like, making friends in lectures. But I think sometimes if you are able to chat or like have a discussion board like online, that could even be an easier way to like make more connections. Definitely.

Dr. Jessica Rourke 18:43
Mm hmm.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 18:44
Um, so what are the challenges for and benefits of online lectures and coursework? for instructors, which would you say?

Dr. Jessica Rourke 18:58
Ah, well, I think it's been really neat to get creative, release and rethink everything. It's not as simple as just taking your course and plopping it online, it doesn't know. So we've had to really come at our approach to teaching and our course materials in a brand new way. So we've, we've had to restructure all our courses, even if we've been teaching them for years. It gives us the opportunity, I think, to cover things we wouldn't necessarily cover in face to face classes. So you know, all those many activities we're doing, we've spent a lot of time picking those, those weren't just random, like, oh, we should have them do that.

And we wouldn't have the opportunity to offer all of those or do all of those in a face to face setting. And so I think that's kind of neat. I think, sometimes depending on who you know, it gives you access to some experts in your field that you can interview as a little guest lecture, you know, just like a five minute interview, 10 minute interview, and posing students to brand new perspective, someone Really out in the forefront in that field that you wouldn't have had access to in a face to face setting. So that's kind of neat. Um, I think it's given us more flexibility, because we can do the synchronous live sessions. But we can also do that asynchronous stuff and think about how do we connect students in different ways? How do we approach learning in a different way.

And I think what's been really neat, too, in our psych department anyways, that we've had weekly meetings, because we're all this is brand new to us, none of us were, you know, taught how to teach online. So we're all learning doing all these things, you know, kind of since March, basically, and so we've been meeting weekly. And it's been really neat to have that support and get to know colleagues in that kind of way. So you know, we'll do a demo, someone's saying, I'm thinking of doing this in my class, I don't know how it's gonna go, can you all come and sit on Friday afternoon and hear about, see, test it out. And so we'll do that, or we'll do, Hey, I just learned this, let me teach it to you, or, hey, I found these great resources. So we've got really that support network. And I think that's been....

For me one of the really, really great things about all of this, that's awesome. I think like, like having that community of like instructors all together, like really supporting each other's is really great. Because like, I don't know, I kind of think when all of this just, you know, started in the conversation was kind of going along the lines of Okay, like, we're probably gonna have to transition to online. And like, of course, that puts students in a different situation, but also, you know, it professors, so I think, that provides a lot of really wonderful, like, insight into, like, how much care is really going into all of these courses?

Yeah, that that's become really clear that this is, you know, really been thinking about students, how do we do this best for the students how to not overwhelm students? How do we support students? And, you know, as I said, this is brand new to us there, we're gonna we're gonna make some wrong turns along the way.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 21:57
Definitely.

Dr. Jessica Rourke 21:58
That's a promise. And I hope people remember that we're human.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 22:08
Definitely, yeah. And of course, as well, like, you didn't have like, a full year to plan all of this. It's like, you're learning how to do online, and like transitioning into online courses. And now I think, I think it's gonna go very well, very well.

Dr. Jessica Rourke 22:23
I hope so that's our plan, fingers crossed fingers.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 22:27
Um, so what aspects of Psych 100A are you most looking forward to in the fall term?

Dr. Jessica Rourke 22:37
I think just, for me, probably the live sessions. I love getting to know my students. And you know, from for many students, they are first year coming into this course. And so this first experience with university and so getting to chat with them about that, getting to answer some of their questions, and hopefully be, you know, a partial support to them. And I hope to get them excited about psychology. You know, again, as I said, I'm biased. I love college. But I really love it, I enjoy learning about it, I enjoy teaching it and I hope to spark that passion in some people.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 23:13
Okay, so,um, so I know you already gave some amazing advice before, but do you have any parting thoughts or advice for any incoming Social Science or Psych students?

Dr. Jessica Rourke 23:32
As I said, connection, I think that that really is important. You know, I think in general University, especially for first year, students can be a really lonely place. Like I remember, probably the first six or seven months of university, you may be a bit different, but I was away from home, we weren't stuck at home. But it was really lonely, even though you were meeting new people making new friends, you know, like, I didn't know anybody, I didn't understand how campus life is supposed to go. And you're shy, you don't want to be that one person that's like, well, this is stressful. I don't like this. You put on a smile, everything's great. And, and that can be really lonely place to be. And I imagine that's tenfold when you're actually separated and online. So forming, as I said, Those study groups, add discussion forums, where you're just asking questions reaching out.

And I know, you know, UVic itself has lots of supports and resources out there for students. So it doesn't just have to be within your class, you can reach out to the UVic community as well. And, and I think that, you know, to remember that, yeah, it's stressful. Yeah, it's overwhelming. Yeah, it's new. And it's exciting.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 24:39
Mm hmm.

Dr. Jessica Rourke 24:40
You know, as students, you are part of this brand new education experience at UVic. And knows what that's going to change permanently in education. It may change nothing, I don't know, but it's changing stuff for this year at least. And that to be part of that brand new experience, that innovation you get to shape how it goes And hopefully you shape it success. But that was like kind of an exciting thing to be part of like, this is going to be written about in history books, and you're part of that. So, um, so trying to remember that and feeling a bit like, that was pretty cool. Definitely.

Unknown Speaker 25:15
Yeah, I think it is a challenge that like a lot of us will have to learn, you know how to face and how to overcome, but it's also I've been, I've been also kind of going through the same thing like thinking Oh, like, no, it's not, it's not the most ideal situation, but at least, that we have an opportunity to still continue. It's not like, Oh, no, no more, you know, university, or, you know what I mean? At least we have that opportunity to still learn and there's, you know, different ways to connect, and it'll, it'll be a new, new challenge.

Dr. Jessica Rourke 25:50
Yeah, and there's gonna be parts of it that suck. Yeah, I'm pretty sure there's gonna be parts of it that people enjoy more than face to face, there's going to be aspects of it. But as I said, you can't do face to face and this is a new opportunity. And, and I'm hoping those are the aspects that end up sticking around, but there's gonna be some gap some and maybe some good, definitely comes out stronger.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 26:16
Definitely. I remember I, I took a summer course. And normally, like I try to, you know, participate as much as I can. But I also am one of those people that gets nervous when speaking.

Funny enough, I'm on this podcast.But I found that I was actually participating more in this online lecture, like I was chat, like in the chat function, I was like, giving him my answers or like speaking up in the microphone, or, you know, emailing. So I think there's lots of ways to be engaged through this, you just have to, you know, find a different way.

Dr. Jessica Rourke 26:57
The chat function in zoom is really neat. Because Yeah, you can participate in class without having to have your video on or without having to speak out loud, you can participate in the chat like that, ask questions, answer other students questions. So that is a really neat opportunity for students who don't necessarily feel comfortable putting themselves out there and speaking publicly. To instead type publicly....

Yes

But I did notice that in my in the summer course, I taught as well, but I found a lot more students were participating, and quite a few of them were using that chat function. SoI really appreciated that.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 27:30
Definitely. Well, well, thank you so so much for coming on to the podcast today. And I totally appreciate the time that you took to discuss everything with me. But yeah, so I think this is gonna, you know, provide a lot of really good insight for a lot of the you know, psych students who are coming in. But that's all for this episode, so be sure to check out our next few episodes within the series UVic and the online classroom, where we will be interviewing instructors from the Faculties of Science and Fine Arts. Bye for now, folks!

[Episode 4] The Student Experience: Getting Involved on Campus

Teresa Sammut (Host) 0:14
Hello UVic student community and welcome to "Meet Me in the Quad," your UVic Student Life podcast brought to you by UVic's Office of Student Life. My name is Teresa and I'm a fourth year English major and I will be hosting Season One of the podcast. "Meet Me in the Quad" is being recorded on the traditional territories of the Lekwungen peoples. We would like to acknowledge with respect the Songhees, Esquimalt and WSÁNEĆ peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day. In today's episode, we're going to be exploring the student experience through the lens of advocacy on campus. So we'll be diving into the ways in which being involved with advocacy groups has shaped our guests student experience at UVic. So On this episode, we are joined by Nate Ponce, Human Geography students and collective coordinator of UVic pride. So thanks so much for joining me this morning. How are you doing?

Nate 1:19
It's a good one I'm having I'm having a good morning. How are you doing?

Teresa Sammut (Host) 1:22
Good, good. A little a little tired, but I'm all good. Yeah. Um, how was your summer?

Nate 1:31
My summer? Well, hmm a little unpredictable huh? But those things like considering the pandemic and whatnot I think it's been pretty good. How about yours?

Teresa Sammut (Host) 1:42
Good. It's been good. Just been, you know, busy. Like kind of, I did a little school schoolwork earlier on. And now I'm, you know, working within the OSL. So it's been kind of busy.

Nate 1:55
Yeah.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 1:56
Yeah. Have you been working on anything specifically? Or just?

Nate 2:00
Yeah, I've been working with UVic Pride, as per students adapting to what program is going to look like this semester, now that so many of us are going to be accessing services abroad and trying to connect with others from abroad, you know, so just try to create platforms for those sorts of things.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 2:15
Mm hmm. Very busy, but very important work. So before we start our conversation, diving into advocacy, and all about your student experience, I just want to start off with a segment called this or that and we've been doing this on the podcast for this season. And it's been a big hit. But basically, I'm just going to present you with like two different concepts, and you're just going to be choosing between this one or that one.

Nate 2:45
Okay, okay.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 2:46
All right. So, this or that, studying in a coffee shop or at home?

Nate 2:55
coffee shop.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 2:56
Hmm, do you have a favorite one?

Nate 2:58
Oh, man, that's such a good question. I really like Koffi on Haultain.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 3:04
Oh, I've never been there.

Nate 3:06
It's this strip of stores and services like barbers and markets in a coffee shop that's nestled into a neighborhood. It's on Haultain. It's pretty like inconspicuous which is why I appreciate it. It's kind of a lonely spot.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 3:18
Oh, yeah, that's a good spot to like, read a book, chill out. Yeah, that sounds cool.

Nate 3:23
And I find at home I'll find anything else but my schoolwork to do so.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 3:27
Yeah. relatable. All right, next one. Presenting a project or watching a project presentation?

Nate 3:39
Ooh, depends on how much energy I have. This semester I just want to sit back and watch. But right now I'm feeling fresh. I kind of want to stand up and chat a bit.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 3:50
Oh yeah. That's, that's fair. Like it kind of depends on like, what you're going to be talking about too, but so far we are in this

Nate 3:57
Depends how far we are in the semester, because I might be burnt out already.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 4:00
Yes. Fair. Speaking of being burnt out, this might be a good question to end with, reading break, or winter holidays?

Nate 4:10
Ooh, oh, my gosh, winter holidays. Because it's an opportunity to go home, which I always like.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 4:17
Yeah, that's fair. Yeah. And like there's two different reading breaks throughout the semester. So that's kind of cool as well. But I love the winter holiday just because of the weather and you know, that nice, nice break in between terms and whatnot. But

Nate 4:34
More rested. Let's us catch our breath.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 4:36
Yes. We might need that this semester. So Nate to tell us a little bit about yourself. So why did you Why did you choose to come to Uvic? And what are you enjoying most about being a student here?

Nate 4:55
Of course, um, my name is Nate. My pronouns are he him and I'm an uninvited guests in these territories. I came here about three years ago to finish my undergrad in human geography which you mentioned. And I'm now the office coordinator to UVic pride. So one of the reasons that I came to Victoria well, previously I lived I grew up on Karankawa territory, and what's also known as Houston, Texas.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 5:18
Oh, that's cool.

Nate 5:23
And, of course, immigration always involves a set of like push and pull factors. So about four years ago, on the political climate was an upheaval in the States. I don't know presidential election, there were like increasing instances of racism and homophobia. So the environment there wasn't very hospitable. And of course, the pool was just like the physical the social and political climate of Pacific Northwest places like a friggin storybook to me. So yeah, that's kind of what brought me out here. And you asked what I'm enjoying most about living out here?

Teresa Sammut (Host) 5:55
Yeah.

Nate 5:56
Oh, man. So like, the proximity to nature and the opportunities to like, connect with the natural world while still being in an urban environment. Well, I didn't grow up with that sort of thing, but it looks so freakin good. And I can't get enough of it. Yeah, it's a cycle and just enjoy the scenery around here. It's lovely.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 6:17
Yeah. How's it different from Houston in that sense, like?

Nate 6:22
Um, well, Houston is a very flat place. Yeah. And it's like, subtropical, lots of mosquitoes. Yeah, and Uvic just been like a destination school. I mean, you see why.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 6:36
Mm hmm. Yeah. Do you have like a favorite spot on campus? Or like around campus? That is your favorite? Yeah.

Nate 6:46
I love the mystic Vale just behind residents. Have you ever been there?

Teresa Sammut (Host) 6:49
Oh, my gosh, I tried to go there Like, every weekend, just because it's just so peaceful. Like, I just I love it. And I think we're very grateful to have that. To have access to that area.

Nate 7:04
I think so too. Nice of rain, I guess what is it called a rain forest right? in our backyard.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 7:13
That's true. That's true. So take us back to your first few weeks at UVic. If you can remember, like, what was your initial experience like and how did yoy, how did you settle in in those first few weeks or days? No. Yeah.

Nate 7:34
Right. Well, that was a couple years ago. But I think I remember quite a bit of it. So I arrived a couple of weeks before class started and I lived off campus. So I stayed in an Airbnb while I view places. Now, housing in Victoria is pretty tight, which

Teresa Sammut (Host) 7:50
it is.

Nate 7:52
Was I was lucky enough to find a spot that came with really an interesting, a very interesting and eclectic set of roommates I had never lived with roommates before so like that opportunity was really neat to me just learning about people from a variety of different places and different living habits. Makes you grow.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 8:11
Oh, yes, it really does.

Nate 8:16
And then I believe you asked me about connecting with the larger community?

Teresa Sammut (Host) 8:20
Yeah, so how, what did you do within that first kind of those first few days? Or like weeks? How, what did you do to like, yeah, like connect the larger community?

Nate 8:33
Good question. Um, so during syllabus week, you know, just getting to connect with all the different clubs and courses on campus was really nice. But I found myself really getting involved with our Student Union buildings Food Bank.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 8:49
That's a really great resource I've heard.

Nate 8:51
Yeah, it is. And it's also like, a really cool place to connect with a bunch of people, right. So I would volunteer there a bit. And I started meeting folks from a variety of different groups, and they started introducing me to more people. So sort of, like, organically growing, but throwing myself into volunteer opportunities was how I made most of my connections.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 9:12
Yeah, that's, that's really, really interesting, because there's so many opportunities, especially within the Student Union Building to like, get involved. And I feel like a lot of people in their first year are a bit unsure of like, what they should, you know, like, be interested in or like, what they can look into. But I honestly think like, finding, yeah, finding at least like one thing that you're like, passionate about, and then you're able to like, Yeah, get used to maybe like working with other people. And as you said, organically, like you can find more connections and like more ways to connect with the community. And I think that's great.

Nate 9:53
Yeah. And you mentioned the diversity of opportunities to get involved with our Student Union, which I really appreciate it because like, as a You know, a new student, I didn't really know I was a little overwhelmed by everything that was going on to begin with And then I didn't really necessarily know what I wanted to get into when I got here right. You don't necessarily know what exists. So just getting that exposure. I really appreciated that. Because because then I had an opportunity to find stuff that I liked.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 10:18
Yeah. And it's kind of like a grounding thing as well, like, you found Yeah. Oh, that's, that's awesome. And I love the food bank, all the people who work there really, really, really sweet. And it's, I believe it's still open during this semester. Yeah,

Nate 10:34
it is. It is, though, like the Student Union Building, for the most part is closed, that we're adapting many of the services to support our students. So right now students can access the food bank online, there's a food hamper program, where and go through and check off. Well, different things that you might need, and dietary restrictions. And we'll put together a hamper that you can pick up, and at the same time, you can also get harm reduction and safer sex resources.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 11:01
Hmm, that's great. Yeah. And very essential. Um, so we kind of already talked about this. But can you describe some of the most memorable or defining parts of your UVic experience so far?

Nate 11:21
Definitely. Yeah. Um, so my UVic experience can be organized into a couple of different facets. So there's like, my schooling and the work that I'm doing for my degree, and then there's my involvement with advocacy work, or student union. So the most defining experiences for like my schooling and whatnot came through, well, the dynamic and diverse learning settings that that I got to engage with in my field, so I'm studying geography. So we got to do quite a few field trips, exploring different natural features on the peninsula, as well as some human ones. So like, maybe analyzing graffiti downtown around the wildfire bakery and stuff like that, I really appreciate it.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 12:00
That's so cool.

Nate 12:02
We also got the opportunity to work with the community. So one of the classes is literally called working in the community. And it's sort of like a co op, where we get paired with a society around town, and we get to develop a project with them. And that's what the whole class is about. So Yeah, yeah, that was, um, I think I think that's pretty unique. I didn't expect that here. And then there's the advocacy work facet of my university experience. So I really appreciate the opportunity to support our community and make connections with people who have similar values and interests in those settings.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 12:34
Mm hmm. Wow, that's, that's great. Yeah, um, and I love, you can't see, but Nate is doing a little dance. Yeah, I think that's really amazing how your experience so far is really going hand in hand with like, what you're learning in an academic sense, and what you're experiencing, like through the community, and they're mutually like, they go hand in hand, but they're really like helping create your experience overall.

Nate 13:11
And that's what I think school should be right, like the academics integrate with your life, ultimately. And I feel like you get a richer experience that way.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 13:18
Definitely. Definitely. That's so cool. So speaking of advocacy, let's talk UVic pride. So for our listeners, um, maybe you could explain like, what is UVic pride and like, what services does the program offer to UVic students.

Nate 13:38
I'd be happy to. So within our Student Union, we have these things called constituency groups, and they advocate for different demographics on campus. So we have society for students with disabilities, we have a Native Students Union, we have a gender Empowerment Center, used to be known as the woman's center, I believe, have the students of color collective and of course UVic pride. So we are run by students to support gender, sexual and romantic diversity at UVic. And we do this through creating access to safer sex harm reduction in harm reduction, resource and information. And we also offer queer student advising through our office. And that looks like supporting students through a number of different things. Excuse me, things ranging from exploring identity to employment, navigating the university systems and cultures or even finding community. Yeah, and and some of the ways that we are supporting healthy relationship building is through the creation of virtual spaces this semester for our queer and questioning students. And there's more information on our programming and resources on our website. UVicpride.com.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 14:48
That's so cool. Um, do you want to walk us through like, the process of joining UVic pride, like, what was that like for you? What was the I guess the deciding factor, like the inspiration that really drew you in and what made you feel the need to join?

Nate 15:11
I getcha i getcha um, oh, I told you, I started volunteering at the food bank here. And that's what I did with members from a handful of different advocacy groups, like I mentioned, like the Native Students Union, and of course, pride. So just like connecting with those people, I ended up starting to spend time in the spaces where they were. So I started like studying and having lunch in the pride space. So attending meetings was naturally, like, the next step for me I was meeting even more people there. And that's actually how I met most of my friends, during my time at UVic was just connecting with people who had similar interests. And that was ultimately the deciding factor in me joining I was I was attracted the opportunity to connect with our community.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 15:55
Mm hmm. I love that. And yeah, that's a that's that's a really sweet answer as well, just like, like having people surrounding you that have the same interests and the same goals in mind. Like, I think that's super, super important.

Nate 16:12
Yeah. And also, one thing about these advocacy groups is that you're meeting people who are navigating the world in a similar way that you are.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 16:19
Definitely that's,

Nate 16:20
they're going to be navigating the institution in a similar way as well.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 16:23
Yes.

Nate 16:24
And if they're ahead of you, they can usually offer some insight, which I always appreciate.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 16:29
Yeah, that's, that's one of the key factors of, you know, working in an advocacy group, like being mindful of a lot of those different challenges and whatnot. But I think that's, that's great. So how can students become involved with UVic pride this upcoming term? Like, what events are going on? Can they like, follow you on social media? Anything like that?

Nate 16:59
Okay. Well, this year, involvements with everything looks quite different doesn't it?

Teresa Sammut (Host) 17:04
Yes. Oh, yeah.

Nate 17:05
Well getting involed with Pride this semester, I recommend checking out the virtual space, I mentioned. So we currently have a Discord server. And we're organizing zoom meetings where we talk about, well, what kind of social what kind of advocacy work or issues do we want to address or work on this semester? And just like organizing in general, if there are any gaps in our programming, it's a good space for us to come together and explore those. But we're also like hosting things like virtual game nights.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 17:32
Ooh fun. What kind of games?

Nate 17:36
We do like Pictionary, just stuff that we can do remotely, right? So like, we'll do charades. Maybe we'll do trivia. Yeah, there's a handful of different games we have on rotation, actually. So. So it's really whatever the group is feeling, you know?

Teresa Sammut (Host) 17:52
Yeah, that's awesome. Great.

Nate 17:56
yeah. And you mentioned volunteering. We have a handful of vacant volunteer positions, actually. For folks who are interested in learning more about those I recommend connecting with us either through like our social media channels, or our website to learn more.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 18:11
Perfect. Yeah, you hear that folks, you can volunteer. That's a great. Um, so do you mind telling us a little bit more about your role as the collective coordinator? So, um, what initiatives or projects or tasks do you specifically work on for students?

Nate 18:36
Right. So I offer administrative services, students support and act as a resource person for other offices and units on campus. So like, my role looks kind of different depending if it's the summer or like, during like the fall or the spring semester, so like over the summer, I've been working on a few things like developing curriculum on anti oppressive organizing in practice in collaboration with the Office of Student Life, actually, which I believe you're a part of, yeah, I work with the gender Empowerment Center on some of those things. And this years UVic's Office of Equity of human rights, equity and human rights is revising its sexual violence response and prevention policy, among a few other things. So I've been serving as a resource person on that consultation committee as well. That's just what the summers look like. Once the semester starts, my role will look more like supporting our members, volunteers and staff with a variety of different initiatives really just depending on what our collective wants to get up to.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 19:33
That's great. Wow, that's, that's really cool. And again, it seems like your role is very open to community and collaborating with a lot of different campus partners and really supporting students, which is really, really helpful. Mm hmm. Speaking of being helpful, can you tell us a time where you felt like your work or your actions made a difference on campus, whether for one student or the community as a whole.

Nate 20:09
Yeah, totally. I can talk on that. Um, I don't think that I can sum it up in one instance, I think it's kind of work is very gradual and incremental. So it looks like long term things like just consistently offering insight. Where, where it's valuable. So like, we have a board of directors for our Student Union. One of the ways that I first got involved was actually as a board person representing the students of color collective, offering insight from that point of view, because, well, it's it's a mind it's a minority demographic on campus. And so yeah, just getting to speak from that perspective and offer insight on how different policies and programs impact people with that intersection. Yeah, I feel like that's how I've been able to create the most positive change. Mm hmm.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 21:01
That's that's really interesting. And what are your top tips for finding your community or having a positive UVic experience for our listeners?

Nate 21:15
My tips would be to, it is hard, but be brave and try everything. Honestly, try everything. Because this is an opportunity to interact and expose yourself to things that you might not have known existed. At least that was the case for me. And you never know what you're gonna find or who you're gonna meet. And, yeah, yeah, just give it a chance. Yeah, be brave and try things. Yeah.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 21:45
That's great. I think that's, especially now I think a lot of students are a little apprehensive to, you know, try new things, especially because it's not as, I guess, easy as it once was before, like, you would just kind of go up on campus and, you know, meet people organically, as you said, like, through, you know, in person in student clubs, or in class or, you know, volunteering. But I think that still holds true for the upcoming term. Like, there's still opportunity to and I've said this a lot of the time throughout the whole, my other podcast episodes, but it's, it's still, there's still opportunity to be involved and and engaged and to support one another. And I think everything that you've said, so far is amazing, and it still rings true. And it's very important now to consider all the great services that you and UVic pride have done. And yeah, it's, I encourage everyone to check out UVic pride and see their staff and see their events and yeah, mm Hmm, I think that's great.

Nate 23:02
Thank you so much.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 23:03
Yeah, of course. But yeah, that's all for this episode. Be sure to check out our next few episodes in the season, if you haven't already. Thank you, Nate for coming on.

Nate 23:17
Pleasure every time.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 23:18
Yeah, it was so fun. Bye for now, folks.

Nate 23:22
Bye for now.

[Episode 5] The Student Experience: Living in Residence

Teresa Sammut (Host) 0:15
Hello UVic student community and welcome to Meet Me in the Quad, your UVic Student Life podcast, brought to you by UVic's Office of Student Life. My name is Teresa and I'm a fourth year English major and I will be hosting Season One of the podcast. Meet Me in the Quad is being recorded on the traditional territories of the Lekwungen peoples. We would like to acknowledge with respect the Songhees, Esquimalt and WSÁNEĆ peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to today.

So in today's episode, we're going to be exploring the wonderful world of UVic residence. So today, today we have two special guests. And they've joined us to chat about their experiences living in residence over the years, and the ways in which being a part of UVic residence has established new ways for them to connect to our campus community. So on this episode, we are joined by Keatton Tiernan, senior CL and Raquel Slotten, former senior community leader. Thank you all for joining me. How are y'all doing? How's the summer been?

Keatton Tiernan 1:33
It's been great. I was a preschool teacher there for a little bit. That was wild. I learned a lot about myself that I love kids, but I will never be a teacher. Which is sad realization to have. Hello to you Rocky.

Raquel Slotten 1:49
Oh, I love that Keatton. My summer has been really good. Mostly just working as a coordinator for the Office of Student Life. So very busy, but definitely enjoying as much as I can.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 2:00
That's good. That's good. Yeah, it's just it's been busy. Seems like for all all of us here. But I was thinking before we start our conversation about UVic residence, I think we should start off with a fun segment called "This or That". Are you down to play?

Raquel Slotten 2:20
Absolutely

Teresa Sammut (Host) 2:22
So basically, "This or That" is the segment where we present you with two different concepts. And you'll have to choose between either this or that. Are you ready?

Raquel Slotten 2:34
Ready

Teresa Sammut (Host) 2:35
Okay. So this or that: online textbooks or physical textbooks?

Raquel Slotten 2:42
Physical for me, I like feeling the pages.

Keatton Tiernan 2:46
Online.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 2:47
Online, why?

Keatton Tiernan 2:49
I have an iPad so I can like, do it online easier.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 2:55
That's true. Sometimes, like online textbooks are easier because you don't have to, like carry all those books with you. Sometimes they are cheaper or they're free. Yeah

Keatton Tiernan 2:58
Exactly

Teresa Sammut (Host) 2:58
I don't know. I okay. I'm an English major. So of course, I'm going to say physical books, because you should see my room right now. I have piles and piles of books. more books than I can read honest to God.

All right. Okay. Speaking of piles of things. What's worse? A pile of laundry or a pile of dishes?

Raquel Slotten 3:02
Oh, pile of dishes for sure. If you don't have a dishwasher.

Keatton Tiernan 3:36
That's true. But living in residence, I would say laundry happens more often than dishes just, how it works out. And then you have to pay to do laundry. It's a whole thing to walk.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 3:49
True, yeah.

Keatton Tiernan 3:52
As it Kin major. I hate moving my body.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 3:57
That's true. I don't know. I kind of feel like laundry because afterwards you have to...like it takes longer. I feel like you have to wait for it to dry and then like you have to fold it and I'm not good at that.

Keatton Tiernan 4:10
Exactly, yeah

Teresa Sammut (Host) 4:14
Okay, so next one. This or That: Wicked Thai Chicken soup, a classic on campus, or veggie chili?

Raquel Slotten 4:26
Oh, Wicked Thai soup for sure.

Keatton Tiernan 4:31
I've never had either of those

Teresa Sammut (Host) 4:34
Oh, oh Keaton, you're missing out.

Keatton Tiernan 4:39
Please don't revoke my student status, my ONEcard. But yeah, so neither option.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 4:49
Do you have another favorite thing then like a favourite food item?

Keatton Tiernan 4:53
Oh my god. I love the egg burgers from the, Boardwalk(?). Is that what it is called? Oh, yeah. At Mystic. Oh my gosh!

Teresa Sammut (Host) 5:04
Is that what it's called?

Keatton Tiernan 5:06
Yeah, okay. I maybe don't quote me. Okay.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 5:11
I know what you're talking about because like, so many of like, my friends like would eat those. Yeah morning like breakfast you get like you'll hashbrowns and stuff.

Keatton Tiernan 5:22
Exactly.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 5:23
Yeah, I remember

Raquel Slotten 5:25
Oh. From Basecamp

Keatton Tiernan 5:27
Basecamp!

Teresa Sammut (Host) 5:27
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, pretty good.

Keatton Tiernan 5:31
Where did Boardwalk come from?

Teresa Sammut (Host) 5:33
I don't know, maybe that's what the area is called? I don't know.

Keatton Tiernan 5:37
Who knows?

Teresa Sammut (Host) 5:38
Who knows? It's a mystery. Someone tell us.

All right. So let's jump into residence. So can you tell us about your time in residence? So like, where did you both live? And what was your role overall?

Raquel Slotten 5:58
I'll start if that's okay. So in 2015, I was a resident in Shirley Baker, which is part of that McGill/Park neighborhood and it was a lovely building, a little bit older, but I had a huge dorm room, so that was a bonus. And then my first year is a CL I lived in Lansdowne, the Lansdowne neighborhood in Ravenhill. It is definitely a smaller building but it was nice to build community there. So a really good experience.

After that I went back to McGill/Park and I was a CL for the Park Hall building, which was one of the newer buildings. Which was the original building I want to live in as a resident, and it had single washrooms, so that was a bonus.

Then I became a Senior Community Leader, I was an SCL for the Cluster neighborhood. It was a lot of fun and a different experience. And I was able to really learn a lot about helping people live with their roommates, and how to have four roommates, and what cleaning looks like and the importance of a contract. And then after that, I went back to McGill/Park, full circle, and then was a Senior Community Leader for McGill/Park, and then when I worked there, I lived in David Thompson, that's where my partner was. And so it's a really nice, I got to be a resident, a CL and an SCL for McGill/Park, so highly recommend that neighborhood. Stay fan. That was my little reslife experience there.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 7:34
Wow. That is cute. I love that. And yeah, like you have a lot, a lot of experience and just like kind of moving around. And in that sense. And that's, that's really great.

What about you Keatton?

Keatton Tiernan 7:47
Well, you know.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 7:48
I know, but our friends don't know.

Keatton Tiernan 7:50
You were there.

Of course, um, well, in January 2017, I moved into Cluster. But while I was in Cluster, I spent a lot of time in the Towers building, which is where I met Teresa.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 8:07
Shout out to Tower!

Keatton Tiernan 8:09
Yeah shout out to Tower. And then after that the following year was my first full academic year and I spent that year as a resident in the Ring Road neighborhood. And then I applied to become a Residence Education Community Leader for health and wellness. Which is just fancy talk for like being like I was like, I would put on like physical activity or mental health, kind of focused programming as like a as a Residence Advisor. In a certain neighborhood, which was in Towers, on the old floor that we used to hang out all the time. So I felt like a really full circle moment. And then I did that position for two years. So that was from 2017 to 2019 or 2020. The dates, it's, you know how it is.

Anyways, and then this year I um, I became a Senior Community Leader like Rocky was.

Raquel Slotten 9:07
Wooh!

Keatton Tiernan 9:09
And I'm the Senior Community Leader this year for the Ring Road Residence. And I just finished training yesterday, so I'm excited. It's my first, my first shot at it.

Raquel Slotten 9:21
Wooh!

Keatton Tiernan 9:21
But it really would. Yeah, it's been a full circle experience. I remember like Dan Crossley-Wing. He used to be a SCL for the Ring Road neighborhood when I was a resident. Remember thinking in my head, well talking to him, I was like "I want to be you one day". And here I am, being him.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 9:41
Aww.

Keatton Tiernan 9:41
I guess in a sense, so it's, it's been really cool. It's been a really awesome experience.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 9:45
That's so great. This is like full circle for both of you now. Like you kind of went through you know, you lived on residence and then you became the CLs and now you're on this podcast talking about it.

Keatton Tiernan 9:58
Exactly.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 10:01
Okay

Keatton Tiernan 10:01
Five years in residence, can you believe that's how long?

Teresa Sammut (Host) 10:05
Oh my gosh

Keatton Tiernan 10:05
Half a decade

Teresa Sammut (Host) 10:07
Yeah. What are you gonna do when you're not in residence?

Keatton Tiernan 10:11
We'll see, I have no idea.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 10:15
Oh my gosh. Okay, so, thinking back to when, you know, at the beginning when you were both new students, you know, just moving into residence for the first time. Can you describe like, what that experience was like? Like moving in for the first time and just like kind of settling in and getting used to you know, your surroundings? And like, what what were you thinking? What were you feeling in those moments in those days, just like settling in?

Raquel Slotten 10:47
I'll go first. Yeah, back, thinking back five, six years from now. I know, I was extremely excited. Moving from Vancouver to Victoria was extremely exciting. It was the first time away from home. And I was so thankful making friends. When I got there it was just such a like happy atmosphere that I walked into. The people in my dorm rooms, we're just down the hallway, we're saying Hi to everyone. I made quite a lot of friends just living in the dorms, which was a really amazing experience. The first few nights for me were a little bit difficult, I did feel a little bit homesick, which I think is a really normal thing to go through. But I definitely grew a lot, being in residence and moving away from home, I think if I didn't have that experience, I wouldn't have become as independent as I am today. And then there's still people who I met in my very first year that 6, 5, 6 years later, I'm still friends with and I'm so grateful that I actually had my experience. And so I was feeling a lot of excitement. And of course, I was so nervous, going to a new place, living somewhere else, not knowing what the food situation would be like. But overall, it worked out really well. Clearly, I lived there for five more years and decided to work there. So that's my feelings.

Keatton Tiernan 12:10
Okay.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 12:13
Especially not knowing what the food is like, like, that's a big thing for people. It's like, what am I gonna be eating? Like, there's no kitchen in my dorm room? What? You know.

Keatton Tiernan 12:24
Yeah, exactly, yes. It is a bit to wrap your head around at first.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 12:31
Yeah, what about you Keatton?

Keatton Tiernan 12:33
Um, thinking back all those years ago, um, I so before, like, some context is, before I moved down here, I was supposed to come in the September of 2016. But I got sick, and I had to postpone my, um, my arrival time for a semester, I had to take a semester off for my own health. And then in that I was moved to Cluster so I could like hot cook my own food because of my, like dietary restrictions from how sick I got at the time. But I remember moving. I'm from a very small town, like a small, small town. It's a little Dawson Creek shout out. It has like a population of barely 10,000 people, which is I think half the size of the UVic student population. So that transition was, it was enriching but it wasn't easy, I would say. And like the first few days moving in I remember not being like sure where I was who my friends were, but like thankfully I met you Teresa right away.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 14:20
Aw!

Keatton Tiernan 13:45
I think I met you like my first day or first two days there through a mutual friend. And like really built a second family through that. And I remember before I even came to residence, before I was even applying to unis and stuff I was like "I would never live in residence". Vehemently against it, the thought of it made my skin crawl. And then here I am five years later working for the, for the last three years in residence. So I guess like, with that it was it was a lot of like, like taking out a lot of preconceived notions I had about residence. It's been a really positive experience and moving in as a student was scary at first, but I really I've met lifelong friends through it. Like so many I can't count. I found my people here.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 14:38
Aw that's so sweet. Yeah, just like from both of your experiences, it's it's kind of a gradual thing. Like at first you're kind of, yeah, a little bit unsure and of course there's excitement mixed in with that but you're still a little bit like, getting used to things. And it's a gradual kind of experience, you know, getting used to living on your own and going to classes and scheduling time to see friends and all of that. But no, I think that's, that's so sweet.

Keatton Tiernan 15:10
Yeah.

Raquel Slotten 15:12
If I could add one more thing too.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 15:14
Yeah!

Raquel Slotten 15:14
I think loving our residence made me appreciate my family a lot more than I did when I was just living with them. Like going home for, you know, we celebrate Thanksgiving or going home for the reading breaks or the winter breaks was just such a wonderful experience. And I was able really to connect with my family a lot more because I wasn't seeing them every day anymore. So that was really nice experience.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 15:37
Mm hmm.

Keatton Tiernan 15:38
That's so true. That's my experience also. Yeah. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, I guess, in a sense. Or appreciate more.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 15:49
That's so true. Like, I remember when I was moving in. I just remember it being one of the best days ever. It was just something so new. And , before that, I never had anything that exciting before. Like "Oh, I have a fresh new start, I can make all these amazing new friends and like I have, I feel like I'm coming into a new home." But yeah, no, I think I think that's awesome.

So my next question is, how would you describe the residence experience? And what, what do you or what did you like about it so much? And how did that help shape your initial university experience?

It's a lot to think about. Like, how did it shape my experience?

Keatton Tiernan 16:50
Shaped all of it, I guess, you know, it's there, when you um...do you mind if I go?

Raquel Slotten 16:56
Yeah, of course you go for it.

Keatton Tiernan 16:59
Um, like, overall, my residence experience, has obviously been really, really good. That's why I've stuck around for so long. But just as a resident, not so much as a working staff, it gave me a lot of structure in a way that I wouldn't have had outside of living on residence. And being so close to classes was always so appreciated, chef's kiss. Being able to roll out of bed and roll into a lecture at 8:30 in the morning is a real treat. But also, aside from that, you have so much support built in around you. So you can have your fellow residents to lean on for study groups and just to hang out and socialize and meet so many new people and fresh perspectives. And then also you have your like Community Leaders, your CLs to go to for support when like things do sometimes do get tough, and they're there to offer resources and just like chat it out and be a good guide through the University experience. Because it's not super easy. Going through University at all, by any means. But it's really nice to have those supports around.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 18:17
Definitely. Yeah, especially like, there's, well, from my experience from living in Tower. There's usually like a CL on every floor, right? Or multiple CLs sometimes if it's a bigger floor, right?

Keatton Tiernan 18:32
Yeah.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 18:33
But I think, yeah, like you still have your independence in that sense. But like, there is still a lot of like, support available to you. And like, I remember a time when...I don't even remember this incident. But I was just feeling super, super sad for some reason. And my...I actually lived next to my CL, which is awesome. Her name was Steph. And she literally brought me into her room. And she made me some tea and she gave me chocolate and she just like, let me cry. And she was so, so sweet. And I think that like, there's a lot of, yeah, there's a lot of good support. Just even on your floor, like you can, you know, get help from your CL, or just from another person on your floor. You know, like, there's, there's a lot. There's a lot of people there who are kind of going through the same thing as you and now you'll just be surprised at like how supportive the community is as a whole.

Keatton Tiernan 19:32
Absolutely, yeah.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 19:33
Yeah.

Raquel Slotten 19:34
Absolutely. And I would love to echo just that what both Keatton and Teresa just said. The amount of support you get is unreal and it makes your experience so much better. You always have someone to go to you need to vent or you have exciting news and you just need to share it with someone or you're looking for some resources. Absolutely amazing. And they really make the Res experience something special. I think as well. I really appreciate that I really felt that I was a part of that community like as a first year and even as a CL I always felt that I had a community, a little home and just to like to go to and chat with and see every single day. And so there's like a little bit of routine about life. I think too, being up in residence, I originally have always called myself an introvert. But being in residence has really made me an extrovert. So I call myself up in a real life integrate reslife extrovert and I don't think I would have had that if I didn't live in res, if I was living by myself in an apartment or with some roomies. Um, so that was really nice. I also exactly like you said, living so close to class was nice. But a class you have an hour in between night or just go back to my dorm and watch some Netflix, take a nap, eat some food was such a bonus and really, really helped me succeed at school. And then the last thing I really appreciated about living residences, I felt really safe there. Like just being in my dorm and felt safe hanging out in the lounge, I felt safe and I knew if there anything was to go wrong, like campus security is a call away. People in your dorm are right there. So those all make experience. So amazing.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 21:19
I love that.

And it's so true. Like, yeah, you're you're still you're a part of that community. There's like things in place for you. There's all that convenience like, Oh my gosh, not having to like, you know, make your own breakfast. Like I wish I had that now honestly like a living off campus. I'm like, I wish I could just you know, go to the caf in my PJs. Like, you know, eat some pancakes. I really miss those vegan pancakes. Remember those vegan pancakes?

Raquel Slotten 21:48
Banana pancakes, I think there was like banana chocolate chips something like that.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 21:55
Yeah, definitely. Good. So good.

Keatton Tiernan 21:58
One bite.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 22:03
So we kind of touched on this a little bit, but, um, what were the challenges overall, like living in residence? So like, maybe give us like some of the challenges that you experienced? And then maybe you could talk about like, what could what could potential future students do to overcome challenges that you possibly experienced or witnessed?

Raquel Slotten 22:28
Yeah, I can start first. Go first if that's ok. Okay, so I personally am an extremely picky eater. So, eating in the cafeteria sometimes poses some challenges to me because I have one type of food that I like to eat. Um, but when we're working around it was I just like, sorry, looking up beforehand, or what was going to be served for lunch, dinner, etc. And, you know, there's always three options, you can go eat, like, the meals from the upper caf in Cadboro Commons or you can go down to Village Greens, or you could go into caf and get more of a burger type food. So I think just really researching my options, and what was available is nice. And then as well, you could always use your ONEcard to go and eat food, like at Mystic Market, or in the SUB. You didn't get the 50% off that you get getting in the caf, but it was a nice little treat every once in a while. And I think the other challenge for me was with laundry. Unfortunately, there's not a bunch of washers and dryers in the residence buildings. So it was always awful when you want to go do laundry and all, that washers are taken or all the dryers being used.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 23:46
It was the worst.

Raquel Slotten 23:47
The worst. Or someone that maybe forgot they were doing laundry and then you put that awkward "Do I remove their clothes from the washer so I can wash mine? Or do I awkwardly wait till they come back in and remove it themselves?" Mostly, especially as a CL, I told all my residents that if they don't remove their laundry when it's done, that it will be placed on top and that is how we will deal with it for now.

So some fun things, when you live with others considerations. Those really are probably the two challenges that I really personally found but easy fixes and it's liveable and you get used to it. You know it sucks at first but you get used to it you figure out what works for you. Keep them thoughts.

Keatton Tiernan 24:34
Very similar I had, like I'm also a very picky eater. So I had the same challenges with the caf at first and getting used to it. But also, like, over time, I don't know if it's been like my tastebuds dying or not from Caf food, just like age. Or like maybe I'm just maturing a bit More in a weird way, but I'm just not as picky as I used to be. So that problem kind of worked itself out. So I eat a lot more than I used to. But I think it also like when I say I'm like a country bumpkin, I mean it. And that was like, the biggest challenge I faced when I came here was being around so many new faces all the time. And, like, the challenge for me was like, finding my own space, like I'm used to me being one of the few people around from my house, I guess, which is sad. And that's, but that's where I was when I moved. And, and you slowly get used to it. And like a challenge I made for myself, my first full year was like, go to your CLs, programming and stuff. And it really helps me get used to all the friendly faces in my neighborhood and build some awesome connections and lifelong friendships. So that was, that was like, one of the things that came in clutch. And then yeah, I guess that's something else to say. But it left my brain.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 26:17
Okay. Yeah, I think both. Both of what you said is, is great. Like, yeah, they're sometimes it can be a little frustrating, like kind of, you know, eating at the same spot all the time. And like, you know, eating the same food, but there's so many different options that you can have on campus, like the SUB and Mystic and the caf, that'll be opening up will be good. And what I did in my dorm, I had like snacks, so like, you don't always have to, like go to the caf to get a snack or like, if you need coffee or tea, you can have a little kettle in your dorm, like that's what I did. And like I always make coffee in the morning. And I had a friend on my floor. And we also used to have little tea parties and like chat, and that was a good time. But yeah, you could do that. I think that that would be fun.

Keatton Tiernan 27:09
Just to add like a really awesome part of cafeteria dining is you get to eat with people all the time. Which I mean, I guess some people could find that a little intimidating, I did at first, but it's definitely one of my favorite things every day. It was a highlight of my day having dinner with like, with fellow residents at first. And then as I became a CL it was fellow residents and colleagues, too, and it's just so good. It's so much better eating with others. And by yourself alone in your apartment, which I have myself doing lately.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 27:45
Me, actually me.

Keatton Tiernan 27:49
Like, I'll put on a podcast or New Girl to make it feel like I have other people around.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 27:56
That's what I need too. My god that's so funny.

Raquel Slotten 28:00
And then if I can just add one thing quickly. I have had residents and fellow community leaders who absolutely love res food and would like want to eat it for the rest of their lives. So just FYI, some people absolutely love it.

Keatton Tiernan 28:16
That is so true. Yeah, I am. I know too many people.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 28:20
Like the mozza sticks. The mozza sticks.

Raquel Slotten 28:24
The stir fry.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 28:26
Ooh, oh my god. Yeah, the stir fry. forgot how good that was. So good. And I also really liked the coffee. Like the coffee. It's pretty good. I know a lot of people are like, oh, coffee can be iffy, because a lot people are picky about coffee. Trust me, I am picky too, but I don't find it that bad. It's pretty good. Pretty good.

Um, so can you describe a time in residence whether as a resident or as a CL that summed up your overall experience? Like one key moment that was just like, this is like the epitome of like, what it's like, for me, for you?

Raquel Slotten 29:11
Well, something that comes to mind when I was like a first year CL in 2016 working in Ravenhill. Like the end of the year, like I ran like a little fun goodbye, then got ice cream cake and have people write like warm and fuzzies, which are just like kind notes to each other. And before people moved out I had so many of my residents come in, who just like thanked me for everything I did and supporting them and hanging out with them as well. Like there's so many people that like, oh, we're like, talking with other people. "I'm gonna miss you so much. Like, let's stay in touch. Like let's plan to get coffee when we all come back in September." So I think like that end of the year when I like saw that everyone like really did make friends and connections. It just kind of summed up, like the reason why I really appreciate residence and like the power that residence has. And that, you know, you really, people said it already, while back, but you're gonna make friends that last a lifetime and you're gonna have so many memories and you're gonna get into the sappy goodbyes with the tears, but the happy tears and it's just such an amazing thing to be a part of. You can just come out the first thing that comes to my mind.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 30:35
Do you have anything? So cute.

Keatton Tiernan 30:37
Don't know if I have anything that it can top that.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 30:43
Yeah, that was pretty good.

Keatton Tiernan 30:44
It was really good. But, I, one thing last year, last year was like, a really interesting challenging year for a lot of reasons. One, notably the pandemic, obviously, it cut our year short, and our residents had to move out. Like, they didn't they didn't have to move out, but they're encouraged to go home. Like, I think it was mid March, late March. But like when that stuff, like when we were getting notice that like, residence should start thinking about going home and, we ourselves, should start thinking about our exit plans and what that looks like and all that good stuff. It was even Logan who is my fellow RCL, and like building partner we call them neither one of us planted but our residents plans this little beach get together. And they so they, they put it all together, got a guitar, got a bunch of snacks, and then like surprised, Logan and I with like, I don't remember what it was, but it was like a letter or something. And then like took us down to the beach or like and the the lead up was like they knew we were busy people. So they're like, keep this two hours empty. And I was scared. Because...

Teresa Sammut (Host) 32:12
What are you gonna do?

Keatton Tiernan 32:17
Like, are you gonna prank me during those two hours? What's the vibe. But no, it was really sweet. And we all went down to the beach and had a really good time and reminisced on the year. And I was like, "I'm so sorry that this is what's happening right now". And they're like, "I'm so sorry that this is what's happening right now". And it was really sweet. And it was really, like, a last good, last hurrah of my, like, experience as a community leader.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 32:50
That's so sweet. I think like, from both of your experiences, it's it's kind of being in residence has taught a lot about, taught you a lot about yourselves and about, like, your community. And like what being on campus really is and it really does kind of integrate you in into that. And I think, as you said before that a while ago, it also kind of does prepare prepare you for other aspects of life, like yeah, like living on your own and like, maybe, you know, making new friends and like adjusting to new situations and becoming more advanced and, you know, your university degree. But when, the one time that always comes to mind, it I think it was just like one of the best, best times of residence was when we decided to have a Twilight marathon...

Keatton Tiernan 33:48
Oh, I remember that!

Teresa Sammut (Host) 33:51
...in our lounge, and we were just watching the movies and like making commentary. And it was a good time. And, I just, I don't know, I just remember like all the inside jokes. And now every time that I see anything to do with Twilight, I just think of that, that one time that we, we just all came together. Even if we didn't like it, we were just like, you know what, let's just watch it. Like I think it was for one of my projects, but we just all came together and it just became a fun thing. Like we just did it.

Keatton Tiernan 34:19
I remember that so well. Oh, it's like two days.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 34:23
Yeah, yeah, it was good. We were in our pajamas. We had some snacks like it was great.

Keatton Tiernan 34:30
Yeah, that is the perfect residence experience. Yeah, I remember that quite well. Every time I see Twilight too, I have a flashback.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 34:40
Oh, oh my gosh. Um, so what advice would you give to your younger self, one piece of advice, about living in residence?

Keatton Tiernan 35:02
I think I have an answer. Can I go? Be kind to yourself. And that's not necessarily restricted to like getting used to living in residence. But it's like, for me, a lot of my hold back in my early days of the residence experience was like, I put so much pressure on myself to like, accumulate all these friends. And that's just like, not, that's just not how it works out. And I did I got like, I met you, Teresa. And I met like a bunch of other amazing people. And like, throughout my career, I've met more and more people through this. But like, it wasn't without trial, and error. Like there are some, with anything like instances where I just didn't jive with some people. Or like, I remember one time I got in trouble for noise and I really, really took it out on myself. I was like, "how dare you do this? Keatton? I can't believe you're loud. But it's.."

Teresa Sammut (Host) 36:05
Light hours!

Keatton Tiernan 36:05
Yeah. It's okay. Like to be loud once a while. And as long as you follow the first warning as someone on the other side of that process now, it's, it's not a huge deal. But yeah, be kind to yourself, but I kind of just, that's kind of my motto.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 36:24
Well, that's good for anyone.

Keatton Tiernan 36:26
Yeah.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 36:27
Yeah. Regardless if you're in residence this year, or not, like, it's important to do that, especially, you know, during this time, but yeah.

Keatton Tiernan 36:36
You don't have to go and meet 30 new people.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 36:39
No, probably not, probably not.

Keatton Tiernan 36:42
Probably not.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 36:45
But online. Yeah.

Raquel Slotten 36:49
I love that. I feel like, I maybe I was the opposite. I very much spent so much time to studying and stressing over courses that I really did not need to stress over. And I think because of that, like, I lost out on a lot of opportunities. So I think if I was to go back, and probably tell myself, like, it's okay to take a weekend off. It's okay to go out and see people, you know, COVID depending guidelines, at this strange time. As well, I kind of wish I did more things and try and learn new things, like maybe joined a different club to really like, like, explore, like my identity and like what I'm actually interested in and try something new, because there's probably some things that I would really love. And I just was too shy or too scared to join. And, you know, it's something that I will share with you. So I would recommend really trying to do something new, you might find something you love. Like for me it was res life.

Keatton Tiernan 37:55
Me too

Raquel Slotten 37:57
Yes Keatton!

Teresa Sammut (Host) 38:00
It's so sweet. I love that. No, I think that's spot on. Like, it's really important to consider that as well. And I think for myself, I would probably say like, it's okay, like, first year is a really exciting and you know, new and also challenging time. But I think it's okay, if your first year is like, one experience and then your maybe your second your third year, they're not gonna they're not going to be the same as your first year, like your first year is your is your first year. So, I don't know, sometimes people can be like, quite nostalgic. And you can be like, "oh, like, why don't I have as many friends as I do", as I did back then or, you know, stuff like that. I think it's okay to like, experience, your first year however you want it to be. And that time is you know, just a time for you to like, set your feet in the water. But you're going to move on and move forward and you're going to enjoy the rest of your university career no matter. You know, where you're living, or, you know what friends you still have, or you know what major you're doing. Like, it's, it's kind of like a gradual thing. So you're gonna, you're gonna grow and you're gonna be like, "Who the heck was that person in first year?" Because sometimes I look at photos. I'm like, "Who is this? Who is she? I don't recognize her anymore."

Keatton Tiernan 39:31
She goes to a different school.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 39:32
Yeah. She's different. But you're probably gonna have to do the same thing. If you're gonna you're gonna grow and I think allowing yourself to grow and not really worrying about, you know, changing too much. It's going to be okay. You're going to be fine.

Keatton Tiernan 39:51
It'll be it'll be good. Yeah, get comfortable with change. Get used to it, just get into it.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 39:56
Get into it.

Keatton Tiernan 39:58
This is a good point. Yeah. Like I remember first year I came in a Bio/Psych Major, I'm leaving a Kineseology Major. And I kind of like, I should have done geography. So yeah, that's just where we're at. And I also like to be conscious to be kind to yourself, you don't need to know all the answers. And if you have to do two degrees, guess you're gonna be two degrees. Yeah.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 40:24
That's great

Raquel Slotten 40:24
Oh, Keatton, I love that, if I can add on to that quickly. Before coming to university, I had my life planned out, I was going to do a bio degree with, like Ocean Sciences, and that I was going to go and do a master's in conservation biology. I am now pursuing a career in student affairs. So...

Teresa Sammut (Host) 40:43
Wooh!

Keatton Tiernan 40:43
Exactly

Raquel Slotten 40:44
Yeah, so if it wasn't for applying for Reslife I would not know that I'm really good and really love working with students and now have a career in it. So trysomething new for sure. It's okay to change your mind and your degree. Absolutely.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 40:45
mmhmm

Keatton Tiernan 40:59
Absolutely.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 41:00
Pursue whatever you want. That's the motto

Keatton Tiernan 41:04
Honestly Teresa, I think you're the only person I know who's still in their major that they were in first year.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 41:13
That's funny, because like, it's actually, yeah, same, same for me. Because actually, I made a lot of friends. They were like, "Oh, yeah, I was doing this before it came into English". And I was like "Oh, okay". I've always wanted to be an English like in high school. I was like, "yep, English" and that is it. No regrets here now.

Keatton Tiernan 41:33
Yeah, and you don't have to change your major if you don't want to, but I'm just saying be open to it.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 41:38
Be open. Be open to all opportunities.

Keatton Tiernan 41:41
Exactly. I resisted it for a year, and I have the grades to show.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 41:45
(laughs)

Keatton Tiernan 41:50
Yeah, exactly.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 41:53
Oh, my gosh. Okay, final little wrap up question. We all want to know what the next year has in store for you both. So are you working on any special projects to do with students? Are you moving forward in your studies? Are you? tell us, please?

Keatton Tiernan 42:13
What's the tea?

Teresa Sammut (Host) 42:15
Tell us the tea, spill the tea?

Keatton Tiernan 42:20
Do you want to go Rocky?

Raquel Slotten 42:21
Sure, I'll go so, I recently graduated this year, 2020. And I'm now actually working for the Office of Student Life at UVic. And I work as a student engagement coordinator. So I am helping develop a brand new program which really entails student engagement. So really helping every new student to UVic, be able to connect with someone and have a mentor that kind of they can look up to you and they can work with and they can chat with to really succeed in their degree and have a really amazing first year. So super excited to see what those years become. Maybe some of you listen to this. You'll see me once again virtually running this program.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 43:04
Do you know what the program's called?

Raquel Slotten 43:06
Oh, yes, I do. So the programs called. Um, oh gosh, now I'm blanking.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 43:13
(laughs)

Raquel Slotten 43:13
Connect program. Connect program is what we are calling it and it's super new. So you all get to be a legacy and it's brand new. Connect

Keatton Tiernan 43:24
I love it. I would have loved that my first year. Oh my gosh, so jealous. Coming in.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 43:31
Woohoo!

Raquel Slotten 43:32
It's going to be a great year.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 43:34
There are more ways, even if you're not in residence, there are ways to be connected. You know, to your peers in the same faculty as you. And don't worry, you'll be connected coming soon.

Raquel Slotten 43:48
(laugh)

Keatton Tiernan 43:49
(laugh)

Teresa Sammut (Host) 43:50
What about you Keatton?

Keatton Tiernan 43:52
What does this next year have in store for me? That's a really good question. I'm, um, this year, I think I said this a bit before, but I will be the, I am the senior community leader for the Ring Road neighborhood. So I'm, I'm working with an amazing group of CLs, in the Ring Road residence and I'm really excited for that. And see all the amazing fun programs that they put on and all that community building and meeting some first years myself. I'm very excited for that. And then academically though, it's, I'm gearing up to apply to master's programs.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 44:35
Ah, oh my god!

Keatton Tiernan 44:38
It's weird. I never thought I would finish my undergrad. And I'm the first one in my family to ever get one so it's been it's really weird to navigate life after undergrad I guess. But yeah, I'm gearing up for that. I'm working on my honors in Sam Liu's lab. You can like see his stuff, I think on the university webpage, he's the one who's doing a lot of work with the Draco app and helping making families healthier and stuff. So I've been doing some health or like some digital health focused work on that. Like working on some research papers. I'm currently supposed to be like putting together a research project that I have no idea what I'm going to study yet. So we'll see.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 45:29
Oh, my god.

Keatton Tiernan 45:30
And Sam, if you're listening to this. I still haven't got a clue. I'm sure my honors profits. I'm fine. Yeah. That's what I have in store. It's a lot of questions are coming up for this year for me and where I'm going to be in the next year, but I'm excited to at least live this next year. Again, those answers.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 45:54
Yes. Oh, my goodness. Well, thank you so much, both of you for coming on and having a little fun chat with me all about residence and first year and our experiences on residence and it was so great to touch base. And I'm sure that a lot of, you know, students are going to be listening to this and they're going to be like, very jazzed about residence and you know, UVic community life and all of that good stuff.

Keatton Tiernan 46:23
Good. Yeah it's exciting.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 46:25
Get some excitement.

Keatton Tiernan 46:27
Overall, my experience in residence is 10.2 out of 10.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 46:33
Oh, look at that.

Keatton Tiernan 46:34
Point two. Yeah.

Raquel Slotten 46:37
I love that Keatton. I think I would second that. And thank you so much Teresa for having me on your podcast

Teresa Sammut (Host) 46:45
Oh, I'm so glad I had you both. This is great.

Keatton Tiernan 46:48
It was so nice seeing your guys's faces after so long.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 46:51
Oh!

Raquel Slotten 46:52
I agree!

Teresa Sammut (Host) 46:53
Yeah, you people won't see our faces but you will be hearing our voices.

Keatton Tiernan 46:59
If you hear my voice around campus, say hi again.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 47:04
Oh my gosh. All right. Well, that's all for this episode. And be sure to check out the next few episodes in the season but, bye for now everyone.

[Episode 6] The Student Experience: Taking Online Classes

Teresa Sammut (Host) 0:11
Hello, UVic Student community and welcome to Meet Me in the Quad, your UVic Student Life podcast brought to you by UVic's Office of Student Life. My name is Teresa and I'm a fourth year English major and I will be hosting Season One of the podcast. Meet Me in the Quad is being recorded on the traditional territories of the Lekwungen peoples. We would like to acknowledge with respect the Songhees, Esquimalt and WSÁNEĆ peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to today.

In today's episode, we're going to be exploring UVic's online programs and the ways in which students from these programs engage with their academic pursuits. Our guests today will be sharing their experiences learning online through the faculty of Human and Social Development, as well as their tips and tricks on how to best succeed in an online setting, just in time for the upcoming semester. On this episode, we are joined by Morgan Gader, fourth year Social Work student and Nora Loyst, a recent graduate from the UVic health and community services program. So thank you all for joining me today. How are you doing? How is your summer? Tell us all the deets?

Morgan Gader 1:34
I'm good, I'm good and happy to be here. My summer has been very boring since we can't go and do very much. So I have, I've been hanging out with a hamster. And and that's more or less all I've done.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 1:54
What about you, Nora?

Nora Loyst 1:55
My summer has actually been great. I think I really thrived in the quarantine life. I learned how to embroider and I built a loom and started weaving tapestries. So I think that I'm really designed for self isolation.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 2:14
That's awesome. Look at that. Look at you both go.

So before we start our conversation all about online programs and whatnot, I just want to start off with a segment called This or That. So in this segment, I'm going to be presenting you both with two different concepts. And I want to hear which one you prefer, either this or that. Does that sound simple? Good to go. Okay. So this or that: papers, or finals?

Morgan Gader 2:51
Papers.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 2:53
Why?

Morgan Gader 2:55
I, I find exams to be stressful. I don't like being put on the spot. I like having time to think through what I'm doing and to be able to kind of solidify my thoughts, which I can do a lot better with papers. Although I don't like having five or six papers pile up on the same day at the end of the semester.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 3:19
mmm

Morgan Gader 3:20
I'd rather be outside.

Nora Loyst 3:24
Yeah, I'm definitely with you Morgan. I am for sure more into papers. I really like that there's no like right or wrong answer. You can be kind of adjacent to the right answer and still get most of the marks.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 3:38
Mm hmm. That's true. See, normally I would say papers, but now I'm kind of leaning more towards finals because it's just like that one little section of time. And then after that's done, you don't really have to worry about it. You know what I mean? Like there's no...

Nora Loyst 3:39
That's true.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 3:41
Yeah, there's no stress after. Well, I mean, there can be stress afterwards, but it's just gone. You don't have to go think about it.

Nora Loyst 3:59
It's like a gametime decisions like you're either right or you're wrong. You put it all on the line. But you don't have to worry about it for weeks before. I mean, I guess you do. Nevermind.

Morgan Gader 4:10
Those are stressful.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 4:14
Oh my gosh. All right. This or that: food at Biblio Cafe or Munchie Bar?

Morgan Gader 4:21
Munchie Bar.

Nora Loyst 4:25
Yeah, I gotta be Munchie Bar. They, those sandwiches. Their vegan one is so good.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 4:32
Mm hmm. I've had that a lot. A lot.

Nora Loyst 4:35
But I have to say like when I'm doing like big, all day studying in the library, like nothing can really be a London Fog from Biblio.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 4:44
Oh my god. Yes. Those are so good.

Nora Loyst 4:48
So good. So they got me through like days on days in the library during finals season.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 4:54
Yeah, for sure.

Morgan Gader 4:56
The matcha latte.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 4:59
That's your signature drink

Morgan Gader 5:00
It is. I have used up all of my ONEcard funds on matcha lattes.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 5:07
That's so funny. Oh my gosh, I really miss those like lemon bars. What are they called?lemon zing or whatever?

Morgan Gader 5:15
Lemon bars? I think so.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 5:17
Yeah, those are from Biblio. They were so good, chef's kiss, just so good. All right. And last one, favorite event to start off the term: movie in the quad or bands on the roof.

Nora Loyst 5:31
I would have to say movie in the quad. In my first year, they played The Princess Bride, I think. I think that's my favorite movie of all time. And it was really fun. Like, getting to sit with all of my new friends that I had met. And yeah, watch my favorite movie.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 5:51
Oh my god. That's the best movie. I love it when I forget his name, but he's always saying "inconceivable!". What's his name? Do you know that guy?

Nora Loyst 6:00
Yeah. What's his name? Oh, my god now I am being exposed as a fraud for not knowing the characters from my favorite movie.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 6:08
Oh, that's funny. I love that. Such a good time, such a good time. What about you Morgan?

Morgan Gader 6:16
Um, I do like the movie in the quad. But I think bands on the roof has shown me some really cool local artists as well. And I've been able to get more into the local music scene and find events and stuff that way. So it's kind of been more fruitful. Because it wasn't just a one time thing. It led to either bands coming into Fel's or bands going to different pubs downtown that you can go and check out it's a really good time.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 6:45
Mm hmm. That is pretty fun. Yeah. And yes, indeed, they are on the roof playing music.

Nora Loyst 6:54
Oh, that's fun. And both of those events are going to be offered virtually this year as well.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 7:00
So you can join in on the fun. Yes, I wonder if the movie will be?

Nora Loyst 7:05
I don't know. It's a big reveal every year.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 7:08
Yeah. Because last year, it was Shrek. And I regret that I missed that.

Nora Loyst 7:13
It was Shrek?

Teresa Sammut (Host) 7:15
I'm pretty sure. Yeah.

Nora Loyst 7:17
Wow!

Teresa Sammut (Host) 7:17
I know, how iconic. Oh, my gosh. All right, let's talk online courses. So both of you are in or have just completed degrees that are offered entirely, or for the most part, online. Can you both like just describe your programs for our listeners? So essentially, like, breakdown, like what's social work? Or what is health and community services? And then now what kind of roles do people who graduate from this program or from these programs go on to do in the future?

Nora Loyst 7:59
Yeah, I can start. So I just graduated from health and community services. So it is in the Faculty of HSD, and the School of Public Health and Social Policy. So I think that one kind of sums it up the most. And so health and community services, take the community based approach on public health and community services. And basically, you can choose an area of focus. And I chose disability studies. And so something that's really cool about this program is that it has a strong focus in advocacy techniques for minoritized groups. So a lot of what we talked about is the different ways that specific groups will access community services and the health system in Canada. And yeah, it's a really cool program. I did not know about it when I started at UVic. It's pretty small and pretty new. And there's actually no first year entry. So I started off my degree as a microbiology student.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 9:11
Ooh.

Nora Loyst 9:12
Yeah, it was really fun. I really loved it. I love bacteria and it was fun to study. Um, but I decided that I wanted to move my career in more of like a people focused kind of stream. So I started searching the UVic website to see if I could like maybe just do a minor in something and I found this program. So you need, at least, kind of two full years of university credits before you can apply into it. And then you are in that program full time for the last two years of your degree.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 9:54
And how many, she said it was a small program, do you know how many students approximately?

Nora Loyst 10:00
Yeah, I think there are usually about 20 to 30 students per year. Oh, wow.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 10:08
Yeah. That's interesting.

Nora Loyst 10:11
Yeah. And, and so that it also, it's mostly asynchronous courses. And they're all online from a distance, which meant that I had classmates from all over Canada. Yeah, a lot of my classmates were like, from Toronto and stuff like that. And we would only ever meet over zoom. So it was funny when everything kind of moved over to zoom in the old pandemic life. Because it was very familiar to me.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 10:42
Yeah, it's kind of like "I'm already used to this". And, yeah, that's actually kind of cool, you can have a lot, like a lot more connection with other people, even like outside of Victoria or just outside of BC. What about you, Morgan?

Morgan Gader 11:01
Alright, so I'm in social work, it is very similar to what Nora has described in that there is no first year entry to the program, you have to have completed two years of more or less any other program any faculty at UVic. And then you can apply into it. Once you apply, there are three different streams, there's the general social work, there's a child welfare specialization, and then there's also an indigenous specialization. And a big focus of us social work program is that is it is indigenous focus. And that is highlighted in all of your courses. You have specific indigenous classes that you have to take, but then all of your other courses are just incorporating that material is well, another big focus of it is anti oppressive work, which is more or less just combatting different oppressions in society, for example, like racism, sexism, and other things along those lines. And so it has a big focus on just advocacy, working against that, working with people to fight that, giving them empowerment to find their voice, it's a lot of theory and just working on the person and working with people. So a lot of roles that you can go into can be counseling, they can be advocacy roles. I'm currently working at a community kitchen, which has to do with providing sustainable food to communities and vulnerable people in our society that either can't leave their house, because they're immunocompromised right now and they need extra supplements, or people who just need that little bit of extra help in their day to day lives. There's different like cooking programs that are put on. Other people I know work at, like women's transition houses, or they'll work with refugees or in housing or a wide variety of things. Social Work is a very broad degree. But it's a lot of the same theory being applied in these different areas of work.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 13:21
That's, that's really interesting. And I can tell that you both are really passionate about what you study and what you have studied. And, like both of those programs, of course, go totally hand in hand. That's really great. Um, so you kind of touched on it a little bit, but I wanted to go back and kind of just talk about how the program's themselves were structured. So if you could give like an example of like, like, typical examples of like coursework or projects that you've worked on, if it's like a mix of online or in person, that kind of thing.

Morgan Gader 13:59
Okay, so the Social Work faculty there is a small group of students who will actually be or in the past have been on campus, but the vast majority of the program, like I'd say, 80% of the students are in the online section. And so that, and that's what I'm doing, that's what I have more expertise in. And, so it's taking a certain amount of preset classes that are mandatory to complete the degree, which have to do with different theories. There's like some mental health classes, there are again the indigenous classes I've mentioned, a lot of just critical work on yourself being able to self reflect. And so that's a lot of what the courses look like. And then you also have to do two practicums, which is another form of like co-op, which you'll probably hear at some point during your degree, or a field placement or a work study. And we just go out to different organizations who are willing to supervise us and kind of teach us the Social Work world before we actually have our degree so that we have a little bit of experience going in. And that's more or less how that is set up. We have, Nora mentioned Zoom meetings, I haven't had any Zoom meetings, a lot of my classes are online discussion boards. So you talk to your classmates through kind of like a Facebook thread, but it's on workplaces. And that's kind of what it ends up looking like, you can reply to certain people, you can just reply to the entire comment, thread. And a lot of classes, you'll be kind of put into groups with four or five other people. So you really get to know those people throughout the course. And then there's also large group discussions where you get to talk to the entire 50 or so people in the class.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 16:03
Mm hmm. That's really cool.

Morgan Gader 16:05
Very fun. Yeah.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 16:09
And Nora?

Nora Loyst 16:11
Yeah, my program was set up pretty similar, I would say, um, my entire program was online, there were no students who were able to opt into on campus learning. Um, but yeah, I think what was interesting about my program, it was all asynchronous. So we didn't have any like lectures where you had to show up in a specific Zoom or Blackboard session. But we did a lot of group work. So like Morgan was saying most of what our, um, interaction look like was in those discussion forums as well. But oftentimes, we would have like group projects, where we would have to meet up over zoom and stuff like that to discuss. Um, but yeah, I think one of the really cool benefits for my program being online was we have a strong focus on like, different communities, and how the different strategies and tools that we learn apply to different communities. So a lot of what we would do, like, for example, one of the courses that I took was called community asset mapping. So you essentially, look through the services and resources that a community has to offer and kind of identify how you can use those to build new programs and health services. So it was really interesting, because, like, I'm from here on Vancouver Island, but somebody from my program was from Northern BC. And so we chose to look over their community, and they had a lot of expertise in kind of what that looks like for them. And so I kind of got this, like peephole into what, how we could apply our learning into an environment that I had never seen. So that was really interesting and beneficial. And then yeah, like Morgan said, There was also a practicum component to my degree it was in, we only have to do one, and it's the last semester. And so that was really great to got to apply lots of skills.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 18:16
That's really cool. And again, it, it seems, like even though for the majority, or entirety, that it's online, like, you still have a lot of opportunity to like, really do a lot of enriching, you know, research, and you're learning a lot of amazing things, and you still get to collaborate with a lot of different people, you probably, again, wouldn't have even talked to you before even known. Just really cool.

Nora Loyst 18:47
Totally.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 18:48
Yeah. So my next question is, would you mind like walking us through or talking us through your typical school day or week? So, like, what's the routine? Like, do you like wake up, look at, you know, all of your assignments you have to do? Do you read through lecture notes? Like, how do you set up your school time and like, separate that from like, work or from downtime? And that that's probably like, one of the biggest things that a lot of students right now who aren't used to being online would benefit from like, learning all about what you both have to say.

Nora Loyst 19:30
Yeah, I can go first. I, really one of the benefits and like what I saw as being really cool about this program was that it was online. And I have worked part time jobs throughout my whole degree. So it was really nice to have that flexibility built in. So I could work during the day if I needed to and do my schoolwork in the evening. Um, but yeah, so I would kind of break it up. I honestly didn't do schoolwork every single weekday, um, but I would often pick a day of the week to work on a specific class. I felt that that was really helpful for kind of like, one thing that I find is challenging about online learning is kind of bringing the abstract online learning into something tangible and like concrete that you can work on in a notebook. So that was one thing that I found really helpful was picking one course for each day and kind of working through all of the tasks that I had for it. And so I would do one day for this course, another day for this course. And then I work the next day. And, uh, yeah, that was what I did.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 20:45
Mm hmm. That's a really good strategy, kind of like, breaking it down. So you're not like overwhelming yourself with a lot of work. Because that could be, you know, pretty easy to do, especially if you're not like scheduled and a lecture every single day. But that's, that's really cool. Yeah.

Morgan Gader 21:03
That's very similar to what I did actually like almost to a T. Kind of interesting and new about the online learning is kind of what Laura touched on, in that you can schedule your life or round early, you can Yeah, schedule your life and not having to worry about school, I guess, my backwards, but usually you have to make everything work around your lectures, and you can't work at certain times, because you have a lecture, whereas with the online learning, and I can take my work schedule, and look and say I'm working Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, so I have those two days off. And I would schedule my schoolwork around my work schedule. And so as more instead, I would take my one day, and I would say I'm doing this class. And if I time do this class, as well. And then on the next day, I'm working on this class, and I'm working on this class. And I just found it a lot easier to break it up in the chunks like that, rather than trying to do a couple of readings from this course, and then a couple from this course and kind of trying to do all five of your classes or four of your classes in one day, that can get really confusing, especially if some of the articles or whatever sounds similar.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 22:40
Definitely, you don't want to be confused.

Morgan Gader 22:43
Yeah, I would highly recommend separating days for classes.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 22:48
Yeah, that's a good point. Again, you don't want to overwhelm yourself, or, you know, anything like that. Because it's, even though it's, you know, you're still you're working from home, you're studying from home, or in any sense like that, like you want. You want structure, but you want it to be flexible to everything else that's going around you. So yeah, that's, that's pretty cool.

So one of the major concerns with many students, like, having to do online learning is that they fear that they're going to be all alone, or that there's going to be a lack of peer interaction, and not just like with online classes, but you know, without, you know, being on campus, and that sense of like, normalcy and all of that. But your faculty of human and social development describes, you know, their courses as community driven for the most part. How did you form community with your classmates and instructors while learning online? So like that could be like through through a project or maybe just through interacting, you know, your instructor or, you know, communicating through a discussion forum or Yeah.

Morgan Gader 24:08
So something that I kind of forgot about that is sort of unique to the social work program for the online section is that before your first semester starts, there is actually a one week mandatory session at UVic. And that is students from all over Canada, all over the world really, coming in to do this one week intensive course. And so in the group that I was put in, I had classmates from Ottawa, I had classmates from P.E.I. I had a classmate from the Yukon. I had so many interesting perspectives being brought in, and I was able to connect with a couple of people that way. So I have those connections throughout seeing their names again in different online classes. But beyond that, and entering classes where none of the names on the class list looked familiar, the one thing that helped me as a nervous student or a student who can get anxious about kind of having to make the first move to make friends, and I can find it a little bit anxiety provoking to say, like, "hey, like, Can I work with you?", or like, "Hey, how's it going?" to someone I don't know. And, and a lot of the online classes that I've done, for the online discussions that we've mentioned previously, it's the professor putting you into groups, it's not you choosing your own groups. And that kind of relieves some of the stress of having to just randomly select and hope people online are going to want to work with you, you just kind of get put in this little bubble of people, and I haven't had any issues with anyone not wanting to communicate and be nice and friendly and want to get to know each other. Like, by the end of it, in the end, some of the discussion forums, it was me and a couple of other people in my class discussion talking about, like whether or not my friend's Puppy was going to, like end up being sold or something like that. And, like just..

Teresa Sammut (Host) 26:25
Awesome!

Morgan Gader 26:26
No, not sold off to like, you know, but like a, like a bunch of like puppies that they were looking to rehome

Teresa Sammut (Host) 26:34
Oh, okay.

Morgan Gader 26:36
I worded that very bad.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 26:39
Oh, my God.

Morgan Gader 26:45
Like, so we started talking about just like personal things, or there were a couple of people who are, there's one girl, I guess, in specific, who had her baby in the middle of the semester. So our group got to kind of see these pictures of like this newborn and congratulate her and kind of be there to support her through that as well. Um, so you, you do get to kind of get into a personal zone with some of these people. And if you're willing to be funny, and just kind of be yourself online, other people are going to do that as well.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 27:22
For sure, for sure. What about you Nora.

Nora Loyst 27:26
Um, yeah, I think that is a really interesting conversation to have, like about community and the internet. And this might be a bit of a hot take. But I actually find it so much easier to develop community, or found it easier to develop community in my health and community service program, as opposed to the first three years that I spent in science. And so those courses were all in person. And they were in these massive lecture halls, like 300 students in all of my classes. And I think that I had an easier time making connections with people online, because there was just like, fewer people. And I think that's not to say that in science classes, that's impossible. But for me, it was a bit daunting. And you might see some of the same people in your labs or something. But there's such a high turnover and such a large pool that it was hard for me to really find a close group. And so moving online, I think, like you said, Morgan, like in those discussion forums, it's really great, because you can see everything that anyone's posted. So you can take a couple minutes to read through and like find somebody that's interested in the same thing that you are, somebody that picked out the same interesting fact from the article you're reading, and you can kind of make connections that way. Like, by finding pieces in common?

Teresa Sammut (Host) 28:55
Yeah, I think that's really great advice. And even I was just thinking about that same thing, like, how, how can you like find community online? Like, for some people, it's a lot easier, because, you know, again, if you're a bit anxious, like, you have that, you know, you're behind the screen, and you can just kind of let you know yourself, kind of go and just talk and, you know, share, share your thoughts about whatever you're learning. In my summer course, that I took earlier in the summer, beforehand, like in person, I would try my best to like participate in class, but I found that like, I actually enjoyed participating in online classes, like there was a chat feature. So like, if a prof asked a question, I would just be like, typed up type, and then he the prof would be like, "oh, yep, Teresa says this", or we would like interact, like in the chat, as well as like, different classmates and actually, I made a friend which is pretty cool.

Morgan Gader 29:57
Yay.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 29:58
Shout out to Elenie!

Nora Loyst 30:00
Was that your final answer?

Teresa Sammut (Host) 30:01
Great. Yes. That was my final answer

Nora Loyst 30:07
That's awesome.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 30:07
Yeah

Nora Loyst 30:08
Yeah, I think that the one of the main benefits to online learning and those online classrooms is like, the sky's the limit. It's like you can, like, if you didn't feel comfortable taking up space before in the in person context, like, it's a lot less intimidating sometimes to just like, post your thoughts into the ether. And you know, if somebody happens to stumble upon it, then it makes for good connection.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 30:37
And I even think like now like, like, it is going to be a concern on a lot of people's minds. Like, I think a lot of people will be willing to, like, make make friends, especially like in your first year, like, that's kind of what you're trying to do for the most part. So yeah, I think if you put yourself out there, like, it'll be totally okay.

Nora Loyst 31:01
Yeah, and I think the best part is, like, even right now, there are gonna be tons of people who are not expecting to be online students. And it's not their jam. And maybe that's your connection piece, maybe you just need to connect over the fact that you hate online learning, and that you would rather be able to hang out in person. But..

Teresa Sammut (Host) 31:20
Fair. That's so, so true. Oh, my goodness. Um. So do you have any more advice to share with students who are encountering online education for the first time this semester, like, maybe you could give your top three tips that you think you would have, like, maybe benefited from when you first started?

Nora Loyst 31:51
I think that it's really about finding the pieces of what you're learning that really, like, drive you. And like people, often when I would tell them that I was an online student, they're like, "Oh, my God, I would never have the willpower for that". And it can definitely be a struggle, like it is definitely like you have to be a self starter a lot of the time, you have to have really great organizational skills. But I think what motivated me the most was not my deadlines, it was the fact that I was really excited about what I was learning. And so that is a huge benefit to online learning is you know, if you're moving through your lecture, and there's this one slide that has a really fun fact on it, and you want to know more about it, you can take another 10 minutes to really research it and like get inspired to keep going.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 32:42
Mm hmm. That's actually true, I never really thought of it in that way. You can kind of take take your time and like explore a little bit more in that, in that sense, like, take, take your own initiative. And yeah, that's really cool. Why about you Morgan?

Morgan Gader 33:01
I guess a more, just, like tangible tip is keep a notebook for each class. And definitely separate. Like, don't, don't start writing your course notes for your one class and then on the next page, start writing for another class, because you're going to get confused.

Nora Loyst 33:22
Absolutely.

Morgan Gader 33:25
So you have a separate notebook, or at least like a divider in your notebook for each class. I would also highly recommend, while you're doing readings, take notes while you're doing the readings. I didn't do that for the first two or three years of my degree. And then it came to having to write a paper or do something and I realized I had to go back to my readings and re-find evidence because I didn't have any notes. So even if you're just skimming through something and you see one or two interesting facts, write it down, because it probably will come in handy later. Other than that, I'm not really sure. I guess, yeah, just do your best to keep yourself on track. But also don't overwork yourself.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 34:19
That's so true.

Morgan Gader 34:21
Like just because you have 12 hours of schoolwork that you think you need to do that day doesn't mean you need to do 12 consecutive hours of schoolwork, you need to give your brain a rest. You need to feed yourself you need to take care of yourself. And you as a person need to be in good health and just in like good mind be able to do your schoolwork efficiently and you're going to be a lot happier and a lot more productive if you are taking care of yourself first. So let's say that as well.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 34:56
I love that. That's great advice. Both of you. So great. Well, thank you both for joining us today on our podcast. That's all for now. But if you want to tune in next time, you're going to hear a lot of great episodes, all about online programs and advice from profs. And some more student episodes. So, tune in, but that's it. Bye for now, folks.

[Episode 7] UVic and the Online Classroom: Fine Arts

Transcript to come.

[Episode 8] The Student Experience: Getting Involved with Advocacy

Teresa Sammut (Host) 0:14
Hello UVic students community and welcome to Meet Me in the Quad, your UVic Student Life podcast brought to you by UVic's Office of Student Life. My name is Teresa and I'm a fourth year English major and I will be hosting Season One of the podcast. Meet me in the Quad is being recorded on the traditional territories of the lekwungen peoples. We would like to acknowledge with respect the Songhees, Esquimalt, and WSÁNEĆ peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.

So today we're going to be exploring the student experience through the lens of advocacy on campus, we will be diving into the ways in which being involved with advocacy groups has shaped our guests student life at UVic. So on this episode, we are joined by Peter Underwood, a student of Indigenous Studies in the Faculty of Humanities and office coordinator of Native Student Union. Thanks for joining me, how are you doing?

Peter Underwood 0:34
Good, good. Thanks for having me. I'm really good today.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 1:21
Yay. How's your summer been?

Peter Underwood 1:24
That's been really nice. I've been trying to pick lots of berries and trying to get in the sun and go up to the lake as much as possible.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 1:30
Nice. Which lake do you like to go to?

Peter Underwood 1:33
Oh, it's a little further from UVic. Yeah, I live more out that way. Out on the Saanich peninsula, Durrance lake I like that a lot. It's smaller. It's really good for floating on. It's also really clear, which is nice. Have you been up that way?

Teresa Sammut (Host) 1:49
I've never been that way but I'm gonna write it down and I'm gonna go. Yeah, what kind of berries have you been picking like blackberries and stuff? Or...

Peter Underwood 1:58
Yeah, blackberries, huckleberries. I'm probably gonna pick some snow berries. You can eat those but they're good medicine for your skin. And there's anything else as well, and mulberries, all of it.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 2:10
Nice. That sounds like the perfect way to spend the summer like out in the sun and really enjoying the land and whatnot. And I'm also super, super excited because you're a fellow humanities student. I'm an English major.

Peter Underwood 2:27
Oh, nice.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 2:28
It's gr-great to interview you and I'm excited to get to know you more. Yeah, um, so before we start our conversation, I just wanted to start off with a segment we've been doing this on our podcast for this season. So far, it's called this or that. So basically, I'm just going to give you two different ideas or concepts, and you're just going to choose which one you prefer.

Peter Underwood 2:56
Right, sounds fun.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 2:57
So it's pretty simple. Okay. Okay, so this or that. Favorite thing to do on the weekend, playing board games or making crafts?

Peter Underwood 3:10
Well, that's a good one. During the summer... making crafts because you can do it easier.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 3:18
What kind of crafts do you like to do?

Peter Underwood 3:20
I like to knit.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 3:23
Oh my god me too!

Peter Underwood 3:24
You knit?

Teresa Sammut (Host) 3:25
Not very well, but what do you.. what kinds of things do you knit?

Peter Underwood 3:29
Mostly hats. I like to make them out of like a thick wool, like, kind of like coast salish style. There's coast salish sweaters and toques and stuff. So very into that. Mm hmm

Teresa Sammut (Host) 3:39
Cool. How many do you do like in a year would you say?

Peter Underwood 3:45
Oh, in a year? Oh gosh. Depends on how like avid about knitting I am. On a good week, I could probably make two maybe three. Well, but I really Yeah, but I often go like we could take like, I don't know three weeks on one toque even because because I'm not focusing too much on it. Mm hmm.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 4:07
Oh, that's so cool. That's really cool. I literally have a scarf. But I started to knit when this whole like quarantine situation started. And I got like, probably like this much, which is pretty good. That's like it's pretty good. But I stopped.

Peter Underwood 4:26
Oh, no.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 4:27
I lost my motivation to do it.

Peter Underwood 4:29
Yeah, it's like that. I'm sure as soon as you feel a breeze you'll start getting back at it again. You'll want that scarf bad.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 4:38
Yeah, that's so true. Oh my gosh. Okay, next one. Studying in the morning or evening.

Peter Underwood 4:48
Oof, I think it's a bad habit but I like evenings a lot. Just so nice to sit down once you're like your body's more tired you don't you feel like you've done other things in the day. And then get to it.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 5:00
That's fair. That's fair. A lot of people do that. Like I'm more of a morning person just because I'm like, I gotta I don't know. I'm just like more awake and whatnot. But that's really cool. Have you ever done a late night cram session?

Peter Underwood 5:18
Oh definitely, you know it. Yeah, few places on campus. Well, mostly...what is that building that's open so late? Clearihue? Yeah, yeah. There are a few times, especially in my earlier years, you know, even ordered food, there late, like, stayed there lately.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 5:37
At some point, I feel like it's like, a rite of passage for so many like, students, you know what I mean? Like staying on campus and like, super, super late and like completing a project or, you know, doing something like that. That's awesome. All right, speaking of areas on campus, which is your favorite area to relax? Finnerty gardens or the Quad?

Peter Underwood 6:01
Oh... Finnerty gardens, I think. Quieter. There's so many plants to look at.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 6:08
Yeah, love it. It's so sweet. And it's kind of tucked away. Like, in my first year, I didn't really even know it was there. But it's really great. I suggest you all if you have the chance to go walk in there. It's pretty nice.

Peter Underwood 6:22
It feels like it's kind of off campus. You don't feel like the same vibes of like everyone rushing and studying and everything.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 6:27
Yeah, for sure. For sure. All right, so Peter, I want to know more about you. Tell us all about yourself. Like, why did you choose to come to UVic? And I guess the second part, what are you enjoying most about being at UVic or being a student here?

Hmm, yeah. These are good questions. I guess like uh yeah my name is Peter Underwood. I use he/him pronouns. I'm WSÁNEĆ from like, nearby here on my dad's side and I'm Norwegian on my mom's side and spent a couple of years in Norway. Like after high school here, and then before University here. So when I got back, I wanted to be like, nearby home in WSÁNEĆ here. I really, like really like UVic and because of that, but also the campus is beautiful. And it's like, I guess the only place with like WSÁNEĆ ties I guess. Yes. So cultural coast salish ties. So that was a big part of it for me. And sorry, were the other questions?

Um, what do you enjoy most about being here?

Peter Underwood 7:43
Mm hmm. I'm definitely a first like, first impressions of UVic were the like the plethora of clubs that there are on campus.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 7:55
So true.

Peter Underwood 7:56
Yeah, there is such a good student community. I love that there's so many options like video games clubs, skydiving club. caving club.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 8:05
Yeah, there's even a Lego club.

Peter Underwood 8:07
Yeah.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 8:10
That's awesome.

Peter Underwood 8:11
Awesome. Yeah. And there's just a really good indigenous student community on campus. That's why I got so involved.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 8:20
That's great. And if I may ask, like, how does that kind of relate to your studies in Indigenous Studies as well,

Peter Underwood 8:29
um, I think it really helps me connect to what we're learning about so often, like in academia, you're kind of learning about, like, things on paper from books from other people's experiences, like, different to get hands on learning and humanities courses. Um, so I think through my connections with other students, we've kind of gotten ourselves involved in activist kind of scenes. And there's even been a tiny house built on campus, for the tiny house warriors.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 9:06
That's awesome.

Interior BC. Yeah. So. So circles like that are, are, I think, really good involvement at UVic. And they really helped with my studies to, to, to get to know people like that and meet other students and graduate students and think about what grad school would be like if I did this or that.

Mm hmm. That's awesome. And, you know, I think that's, that's really important. Just that, like, have a sense of like community and in different in, like, all facets of like your university experience, which is really cool. Yeah. So I was wondering if you could tell us a story. Take us back to your first few weeks at UVic. So I mean, those those kind of weeks are like pretty memorable. But what was your initial experience like on campus and like, how did you settle in and get used to the environment?

Peter Underwood 10:07
Yeah, good questions, because it was a definitely experience getting used to everything. I think my first impressions were, like, properly the orientation, there were meeting up with people in the Quad finding a circle to sit in that were expecting me, and then doing the whole tour,

Teresa Sammut (Host) 10:27
Mm hmm.

Peter Underwood 10:28
I had been to UVic before from high school tours and some summer camp stuff as a kid. But it wasn't really until I came to UVic that I got to know the buildings and everything and where things were and what what student life was like. So I think I definitely like walking around campus as much as possible helped me settle in and get to know my bearings, because for some reason, I expected everything to be very, like, names black and white, like, you know, science building or like the library. But it's not like that the buildings are named after people that were at the university years or something like that. Petch and MacKinnon and Cornet. Those Yeah. So yeah, definitely looking at all the signs and just doing a few loops was nice. And yeah, no, yeah. There's like Pokemon Go and everything. Ready to like, explore campus?

Teresa Sammut (Host) 11:26
That's so awesome, I love that. Yeah, yeah, no, a lot of people in their first year, I remember, like, they were always really lost, like walking around the first few times, they were like, Where is this building, where's this? I suggest looking at a map beforehand. But like, yeah, even as you said, like walking around, kind of like getting used to the environment. Like, there's a lot of, like, Central, you know, things like, you know, obviously, the quad is in the heart of campus pretty much, first people's house and then clearihue. The library, like, those are the major buildings, some of the major buildings that, you know, are pretty recognizable. Yeah. Yeah, that's a really good way of settling in and just kind of getting used to your surroundings.

Unknown Speaker 12:18
And I thought it was really nice to me to add everything to my Google Calendar, not on my home screen. And then I need to even click the name of the building, and then Google Maps will tell me where it is.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 12:29
Oh, my God, that is so organized. I never did that. I was just kind of like, Where is it? Okay, I'm just gonna go from memory. That's a good tip.

Peter Underwood 12:39
Saved My Life a few times, almost.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 12:42
Oh, my gosh. Um, what else did you do to kind of like, connect yourself to the larger community in that, in that time frame? Like when you were just getting used to things? Was there anything like you did to connect further at all?

Unknown Speaker 13:01
Yeah. I did check out a few clubs. Maybe I was a bit ambitious and checked out many of them and they didn't actually, like follow up with some of them.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 13:11
We all do that.

Peter Underwood 13:12
Yeah. So then I kind of, at least got to know the vibe of them. I never really went to like photography club. But I was kind of hoping to do that at first. But there's so many, and there's so many years like to be at UVic. So I guess like, eventually, if people are interested in something they can get to the ones that they're interested in eventually.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 13:33
Mm hmm, that's true.

Peter Underwood 13:35
But I guess I'm really glad that I went on tours in high school and before. Because then I got to see the first peoples house and started going in there a bit. But it didn't take long before I started to recognize faces. And before I even started, because other people there who are starting to recognize me, oh, yeah, people just start to talk to you if you're there enough. And the Native people there. That, that was really nice. I really like that in the evening. The buildings are kept open by students. And you can just like use the whole space as a study space and, and get to know people and sometimes they have games or sometimes people bring crafts, like eating or knitting or anything like that. Yeah, it's actually in the first people's house I learned how to make pine needle baskets. Oh, wow. Another project. I want to finish the summers like I started a little basket just like the size of a pencil holder or something, but I got to kind of finish that.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 14:31
And how many have you done so far?

Peter Underwood 14:34
The baskets? just one. Yeah.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 14:36
Okay, that's cool.

Peter Underwood 14:38
I might do more. There's lots of the cuz you have to use the big pine needles. And there's a lot of those needles on campus which is really nice.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 14:46
That's true. That's, that's really cool. Are they like bigger are they like, like more smaller does it just depends

Peter Underwood 14:53
like the needles,

Teresa Sammut (Host) 14:54
no, like the baskets when you make them like do usually or they usually make them any size, any size.

Peter Underwood 15:01
Depends on how you started it.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 15:03
Yeah, I guess that's true. Cool. Um, I want to know, what are some of the most defining parts of your UVic experience so far? Loaded question, I know.

Unknown Speaker 15:23
I guess, major changes, like changing what I'm studying has been some pretty big things and figuring it out. I actually did start in biology.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 15:34
Oh, that's cool.

Peter Underwood 15:36
Yeah, I did a good amount of that, like a year and a half. I tried to like, skip ahead, some. So I did take one even third year course, to see what it was like and, like, loved it, but thought it wasn't for me. Then I tried some other things and then ended up in Indigenous Studies. So I think exploring different classes was, like a big part of my experience. And like, really, yeah, needed. It made me feel like I was part of campus and proud to like know, a little bit here and there. And then I guess, another big part would be getting my current position. Yeah.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 16:19
When did you start?

Peter Underwood 16:21
Ah, geez, like, two and a half years ago now?

Teresa Sammut (Host) 16:23
Oh, wow. Yeah. Awesome.

Unknown Speaker 16:26
So it's been nice. Making lots of good connections and starting good projects. Yeah, love it.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 16:33
Cool. Um, do you have like a favorite class from your Indigenous Studies? That is, that kind of like stood out to you? or,

Peter Underwood 16:43
um, which one hasn't almost? I think a really good one is indigenous resurgence with Jeff Corntassel. We talked about, like, all different parts of the world, like what it is people are doing in terms of like cultural resurgence. So that, resistance even too was a big part of it. So that includes, like Central America, Polynesia, all around North America. It was great to hear about what were they doing and think we even heard a little bit about Australia. But yeah, I've been lucky enough to meet a few Indigenous Australian exchange students here. So nice just hearing about, like, all the different parts of the worlds. And a really good course is that I recommend to everyone is just I.S. Indigenous Studies 101? or no? Sorry, it's changed now. No, that's that's a new name. Yeah, 101. And 102 there, one's in the Fall, one's in the Spring. Maybe you can take them at different times. But that's the standard, I guess. And it's really great, because you get to learn about so many topics in a year. And it's really good to like, know, kind of what Indigenous Studies is all about? Because that's a big question that people are wondering about. And it's kind of hard to answer, because it's about a lot of things. It's kind of interdisciplinary. And before it was in Humanities, it was it was considered interdisciplinary. is a little bit of like history, like, some sociology, political science. What is the the, the view of humans called again?

anthropology, yeah, psychology, a little bit of everything. So, yeah, I love that. And I think it's a really great elective to take, especi ally for so many Humanities students in social science students.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 18:52
And I guess even like, for any student, and, yeah, especially, it's really important, I think, to take those courses and to just kind of understand more than what you know, right now, you know, yeah, yeah.

Unknown Speaker 19:10
Yeah. A lot of people when they're taking the course they ask, why didn't we learn this in high school? Or why didn't learn this in any school? So I think for that reason to you, it's really good to take some universities or even offering Indigenous Studies as like a mandatory course for all university students the same way that that UVic English is, like a mandatory course. Unless you've met the requirement in high school, of course.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 19:36
Yeah. No, I think that's really awesome and important.

Peter Underwood 19:40
Yeah, like UVic wants our students to be going out there in the world with like, a really good sense of how to how to write papers and and interpret them and everything right, so that's why we take English so why not the same with Indigenous Studies? Why don't we want to send the students out with the good understanding of our Canadian history?

Teresa Sammut (Host) 20:01
No, I totally, totally agree with you there. Let's talk about the Native Student Union. So I was wondering if you could explain to our audience. So what is the Native Student Union and what services does this like group offer UVic students?

Peter Underwood 20:25
Yeah, good question. Um, so yeah, I guess we've been around for, like, over a few years now as a group, and the Native Student Union started as Indigenous students who weren't Indigenous students. And that is still true today. Originally, it was started out by students helping other students register, which back then was on paper. And that was much more of a process. But if you think it's hard now, even harder then before, you'd have to like, like, go back and look at the book of classes somewhere, and then get back in line to register for classes that fit your timetable.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 21:03
Oh, my gosh, what a process? Yeah.

Peter Underwood 21:09
Yeah, it's really important for us to be looking out for each other and academia. So what we do now is similar stuff. So there's a body like a student body, a council of students that are elected as student leaders. And then there's myself a staff and summarizes some other stuff like work studies. And we're like, we often offer like one on one student support if students have questions about like, Where do I find information about scholarships? Or where do I, you know, how do I get involved with work study positions or anything like that? Like, which courses should I take? Who should I see to take which courses? Sometimes I like redirect students to the experts on things like that? Yeah. Yeah. It's also nice to get like a ticket questions answered from someone else. And like the indigenous student community? Mm hmm.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 22:09
So would you say like, you're like the first one of the first points of contact for Indigenous students in that sense?

Peter Underwood 22:17
Sometimes, yeah. There's also quite a few staff in First Peoples house, all around campus. So people go to all sorts of parts of campus to ask questions. We also try to do as many events as possible. We also, almost always try to feed students at our events. I think it's so important for students get like hot meals and be well fed while studying because so often, when you're like, got your nose in the books and you lay down to the grind. You kind of forget about preparing healthy food or hot food or anything decent. That's not granola bars and Red Bull.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 22:51
Oh, gosh, yeah. That's awesome. What kinds of food do you make?

Unknown Speaker 22:58
Like soups. Sometimes we may get sometimes we should get it in like, order sushi or something, something like we can get a lot of. And it's really nice when you can get an order of like fry bread and chili or soup or something. Trying to get those foods that a lot of students might miss if they're studying here and they're away from home or something.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 23:19
Yeah, no, that's so awesome. Great. So I kind of want you to walk us through a story of like you joining NSU. So I guess what was the inspiration or the deciding factor that kind of called you in? And what steps as well? Did you take to like, get involved?

Peter Underwood 23:47
Mm hmm. I think at first, I thought I would want to get involved because there were so many really, like respectable, like higher level students that were involved. And I thought that what they were doing was really awesome. And I felt like I could try to like organize an event or something or, or try to get involved in some way. So I first started showing up to our Native Student Union meetings. During the school year on a regular semester. They happen every week, in person in our space. Right now. They're going to be online, of course because of COVID. But usually at the meetings, there's some snacks and like food from felicitas and the SUB and then we talk about how we can better support students. So it could be like discussing events or, or programs that we have any updates we have to our room. That's all decided by us as the students. So when we get new computers, like we choose which computers we want to get, and we want to get a new table for the kitchenettes stuff like that. The table we have right now is actually from the Metis nation of Greater Victoria. That's on loan from them. It's a beautiful large table with like a Metis flag design on it.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 25:12
That's beautiful. I love that. Um, so you said that, like, some of the events and stuff because of COVID will have to be online. So, speaking of that, how can students become involved with the Native Student Union this upcoming term?

Peter Underwood 25:33
Mm hmm. That's a good question. So, figuring out a lot of that, yes. But right now we have at least our meetings are online, you find the zoom links and times for that on our Instagram or Facebook or Twitter at @uvicnsu, or our website, uvicnsu.ca. And, yeah, those are going to be weekly starting in mid September. And then we're also going to be having some events online, I'm sure. Still in the works for that we're waiting for this semester, to start into like, yeah, see what September will really be like. And there's a Yeah, we're also planning to have some kind of in person movie night with an online components later in the like fall, so October, November. That might become a series of it's on weight. I'm hoping that we can show as many student made films as possible. There's been a few films made by Indigenous students in the last bit. Some like documentary that are, like a lot of like news clips, and clips from, you know, some activist scenes, and some like one film, which is already out made by Haley gala, is about indigenous people and education from history to now. They're really good short film. Oh, shoot, I forgot the name of that one.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 27:13
There's just too many good ones. Yeah. That's cool.

Peter Underwood 27:16
It's been quite a few students have gotten grants from story hive, which has been really nice. They, they got a grant to produce a film, and they can have really great when they have some funds for it, and they get connected with experts.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 27:26
Oh, so are these films available to like, watch online? or?

Unknown Speaker 27:31
Yeah, I know at least two of them that I'm thinking of are on storytime. So I recommend checking that out. Yeah.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 27:38
Yeah, I definitely will, that sounds awesome. You'll have to email me. That's so cool. Um, so I want to hear a little bit more about your role as the office coordinator. So what initiatives or like, things do you help students with on, you know, a weekly basis or whatnot?

Peter Underwood 28:02
Yeah, so I got students, the right resources to kind of host events. Or if any student has like a dream to start a program on something, then I'll get them set up with that. Like one program that I was really interested in that we didn't have for a while is the Two Spirit circles that we have, just like a kind of roundtable where an indig-queer to spirit students can come in just chat about anything related to that. It's a kind of closed event so it's a comfortable environment where we can talk about what that really means because today's world, like, it's kind of hard to identify what it means to be two spirit or indig-queer. The indigenous queer experience is very unique. And it's a it's been part of our history. But for so many of us, that history was kind of taken away from us stored through education systems, and other colonial powers for many decades. So a lot of us don't really know what two spirit means in our specific culture, or what other genders there might be, or sexualities, or identities there would be. So it's a Yeah, it's really nice to find community and I really encourage students to find a community like that. Whatever kind of experience you have, I'm sure there's someone else out there that has something similar. So definitely recommend students get involved in clubs and circles in any sort of community like that.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 29:44
Yeah. That's great. And I think that's really truly important. And yeah, no, I think your role as well and the whole Native Student Union is a really important and special part of campus. So we kind of touched on this beforehand, but you can revisit it. How does working within an advocacy kind of group intersect with your role as a student? And like, how does this allow you to see things differently than maybe a student who isn't involved with advocacy?

Peter Underwood 30:29
I think to be, like entirely honest about that, I think getting involved in student advocacy, I do get to see some of the uglier sides of the students population and general population overall because there are often, you know, like, like any academic institution, there are like acts of racial bias or racism on campus. And as an advocacy group, we we do try to, like, look out for those and stand up for students and problem solve them and try to make changes to university. There have been different, like student groups on campus that there's even like a white Students Union for a while. So...

Teresa Sammut (Host) 31:24
What!

Peter Underwood 31:24
Yeah, yeah,

Teresa Sammut (Host) 31:26
That's disgusting.

Peter Underwood 31:29
Yeah, they, I think they felt oppressed, because there were students of color and Indigenous students coming together in groups like we are. So for some reason, they, yeah, there's people from all over coming to UVic. So I do get to see the uglier parts of Student Life sometimes like that. And yeah, sometimes there's incidents with students in their program or, or stuff like that. Yeah, I'd really don't like to see that. But it's important that it's talked about and understood. And not. There's some action taken on that.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 32:05
Yeah, no, I totally agree. And I think if I can also be honest, as well, like this, this year, and like, the past few months, has shown the whole world that like, incidents like that are like examples of like, strange, and horrible, like, acts are just, again, just we can't tolerate anything like that, or accept anything like that. And I think things that you are working on in the Native Student Union and other advocacy groups, and just students in general, like it's just so so important that we all learn, you know, and unlearn biases and whatnot. And no, I think it's kind of it's really hard to like, wrap your head around. But I think it's, it's just super important that we recognize what's going on. And I really, thank you so much for sharing your honesty with with us for that. Yeah.

Peter Underwood 33:10
Yeah, I guess like, because of those things I do get to see a lot of students coming together and that there are like, especially in the last year, even before COVID, and before the Black Lives Matter movement really started to, you know, get as much attention as it as it does now. There were a lot of students group coming student groups coming together to talk about and support what's happening.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 33:37
Yes,

Peter Underwood 33:38
And that really took off last January 2020. And there were so many students like willing to talk about and engage and learn about what's happening there and support. And like, that's been really great. And even now, like, the UVSS is starting some kind of Learning Allyship book club.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 34:04
I saw that.

Unknown Speaker 34:05
Yeah, available online. And that'll be a program that I'm looking forward to seeing students engage in. Another really important group that's really helped with racialized students is the students open forum against racism is what their acronym is so far. And they've hosted like multi day workshops, where you can drop in and take some kind of workshop on on anti racism or to a talk on on relevant topics. There is like even guests from from the larger Victoria community like a group called "the Table" organized. And if you spaces and Victoria and it's led by people of color, and they they pick a random topic. Well, like a planned topic. To discuss like, like, I think the topic for that might have been, like racism on campus, and non racialized students are able to listen into the conversation that's happening at like the table. Yeah. And there's a few people sitting at the table, it's kind of like a panel. And people just discuss their experience. And that's really great for, for Southern, non racialized students to listen to and hear what life can be like for other students, especially those that have never really seen that are experienced that.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 35:38
No, I think that's, that's really important. Kind of speaking on that topic, could you describe for us a time where you felt like your actions made a difference on campus, whether that's like for one student or the community as a whole?

Unknown Speaker 36:00
Mm hmm. I can't think of one specific time. But it is really nice every time that students are talking about their UVic experience that they mentioned things that happened because of the Native Students Union, just the other day, there was a, like a, an online event that was kind of taking the place of a summer camp that happens for Indigenous students. Like not indigenous students, but high school students, that are perspective university students. And some of the students like mentioned, the good times have had, like, because they need a Students Union and knowing that they've always been, like, fed on campus because of, because of our events or anything. Like, that's been really nice. And also the times, like where students, you know, get through a really rough patch during semester, or because of some incident that happened, like knowing that, like seeing a student on a better path, again, has been really, really rewarding, I think.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 37:09
I think, I think just listening to that, it's really, it's, it's not just like, one specific moment. That's like, defining it, but it's, it's kind of like, again, like a collective effort to help students and yeah, no, I think that's great. Even small acts. Oh, yeah, keep going.

Unknown Speaker 37:29
Big one is seeing indigenous graduates, and seeing them speak about, about their experience on campus. And, like, knowing that they're, they're moving away from campus and starting starting life, and that they that they made it, make it like that, then later on seeing them in a job that they have that's relevant to the studies and just where they are.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 37:56
Yeah. Oh, that's pretty. I love that so much. I'm so finally, what are your top tips for finding your community and having a positive UVic experience?

Peter Underwood 38:11
Hmm, yeah. I think just, uh, just visiting as many different students communities as possible. Seeing what they're like, trying to find the balance between, like a social life on campus and a studious life. And definitely trying to make friends with people in your classes. Probably going to see them again in other classes in your second and third and fourth year. Yeah, definitely, trying to meet as many people as possible, and finding out what clicks like experience university to the fullest. And then,

Teresa Sammut (Host) 38:50
especially now.

Peter Underwood 38:51
Yes. Yes especially now.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 38:53
Yeah. That's great. Yeah. All right. Well, thank you so so much, Peter, for coming on. I really enjoyed talking with you and getting to know you more and your experience and your experience working with the Native Student Union. But yeah, I guess that Yeah, sorry. I couldn't hear you.

Peter Underwood 39:14
Yeah, it's been great. Thanks for having me to talk about, about what Student Life is like, and I really hope it helps the newer students.

Teresa Sammut (Host) 39:22
Yes, I'm sure this will be really, really great. But that's all for this episode. And if you're tuning in, be sure to check out our next episode in this season, but that's kind of it. Bye for now, folks. Hold up. I actually lied. That's not all of it. If you'd like to learn more about the storyhive indigenous films that Peter mentioned earlier in our podcast, go on to storyhive.com and look up there's the campus and the US is in parentheses. There's also another film that he recommended to me and it's called "Dance like Everyone's Watching". That's also on storyhive. And if you want to learn more about indigenous made films on storyhive, you can also go on to www.storyhive.com/addition/2018 indigenous and you should be able to find lots of amazing films there.

There we go, now get to watching and now that's it!

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Email Archive

Welcome email - July 7, 2020

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Pre-Arrival Program launch - July 16, 2020

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Orientation registration (domestic students) - July 30, 2020

Orientation registration (international students) - July 30, 2020

Pre-Arrival Prep: Health & Wellness - August 4, 2020

Pre-Arrival Prep: Involvement - August 18, 2020

Final reminders - August 25, 2020



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