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Our Areas of Focus - Student Affairs

The Division of Student Affairs is dedicated to advancing the holistic well-being of our students and staff through a diverse range of initiatives which help to create a supportive campus community. Explore how our division's Areas of Focus contribute to a vibrant and enriching university environment. 

In all that we do, Student Affairs at the University of Guelph is dedicated to offering quality programs and services that aid in the development of the person, scholar, and citizen. Student Affairs includes Athletics, Child Care and Learning Centre, Experiential Learning Hub, Student Experience, Housing Services, Wellness, and the Office of the Vice-Provost, Student Affairs. Together, we work to create an environment that advances personal growth and encourages students to take their learning to the next level while enhancing the student experience and deepening our global impact. Our team members are committed to helping students start on a journey of self-exploration and growth, from pre-arrival to graduation and beyond. Through comprehensive resources, services, and programs grounded in student development theories and with indigenization, equity, diversity, and inclusion pedagogy, we provide the necessary tools for students to foster meaningful connections to succeed. Our pedagogical approach helps create a co-curricular experience that shapes students' sense of autonomy, opinions, values, and talents.

U of G is committed to the expansion of co-operative education and career education and envisions a future where each student will have a co-operative education experience as part of their academic career. Co-operative education and career education programs bridge the gap between academic learning and professional practice. These programs provide students with real-world experience, career exploration opportunities, skill and professional brand development, networking opportunities, industry relevance, and a smoother transition to employment after university. These aspects significantly contribute to the post-secondary student experience and enhance their future career prospects. These essential skills are vital for success in the global job market and for addressing global challenges collaboratively. For more information about co-operative education and career education, visit the Experiential Learning Hub’s website.

There is growing evidence that students across Canada experience food insecurity, including students at U of G (Hungry for Knowledge: Assessing the prevalence of food insecurity at the University of Guelph, September 2020). Due to a multitude of complex factors including economic inequality, the rising costs of living and housing, as well as social and geographical challenges, food security is a growing challenge. Food insecurity can potentially undermine the health, well-being and educational success of students. Such challenges require a multi-faceted approach involving government policies, community organizations, research, and public awareness campaigns which address the root causes and provide necessary support. At U of G, staff, faculty, and students work together to incorporate initiatives that support food security, directly benefitting students' health and academic success, while contributing to a broader culture of caring, inclusivity, and responsible citizenship. A U of G food security website is currently being created and will be posted in this location soon.

Canada is experiencing housing shortages and regrettably Ontario and the City of Guelph are no exception. Housing security is impacting our students. In additional to the 5000 beds on campus, and to help address demand and contribute to student success, U of G is developing a Student Housing Strategy that considers current and future needs. Work on the Student Housing Strategy has begun (2022-2023) and will continue over the next several years. More information about the University of Guelph Student Housing Strategy is available online. Additionally, both Off-Campus Living and/or Student Housing Services can help students understand information and important timelines related to living on or off campus.

There is a growing movement for institutional leadership and campus frameworks to implement indigenization, equity, diversity, and inclusivity-related policies to ensure equitable access to services and programming on campus. Student Affairs is focused on understanding the unique needs of students based on the various intersections of their identity such as culture, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender expression, and physical or mental health disability. Student Affairs at U of G continues to learn, and more importantly to unlearn, so as to do better and provide the best services to those we serve. We have a lot of work to do – but are sincerely committed to doing the work!

International students bring immense value to our campus. In an increasingly interconnected world, global competency is crucial. Working collaboratively with diverse perspectives and experiences helps promote cross-cultural understanding, broadens horizons, and fosters a global mindset among the entire student body. Understanding and supporting the international student experience is imperative to building a student experience that sets students up for success. At U of G, we recognize that each international student experiences unique opportunities and challenges. However, amidst the range of diverse experiences, there are common threads that enable us to develop programs and services to provide support along the way. From pre-arrival, orientation and immigration support to advising, financial resources, work placements, social and networking events and regular communications, U of G is dedicated to helping our international students thrive. For more information about the international student experience please visit the Student Experience Department’s website.

Mental health and well-being are complex concepts. The many experiences and situations that shape us create a unique outcome for each person. Supporting student mental health at U of G requires an approach that embraces that complexity and makes it a priority for the whole university. It requires a commitment from each of us. U of G has set a goal of becoming a leader in addressing student mental health. To achieve that goal, in winter 2023 we launched the President’s Task Force on Student Mental Health. The task force is led by mental health experts at U of G and will develop a plan that will be built into our policies, programs, and actions to transform our approach to student mental health. The plan will directly benefit students, their immediate circle of support and the institution. Our whole-of-the-University approach means integrating mental health into every aspect of university life, from what happens in our classes to the spaces we share. It means looking beyond the idea that mental health is a stand-alone issue. It is a priority that will need commitment and action from all of us. Learn more about the President's Task Force on Student Mental Health and its work.

Facilitating connection and belonging among students is vital to counter the increasing experiences of isolation and loneliness in the virtual world. The recent shift away from being physically on campus has highlighted a need to devise innovative strategies to allow students to engage with their institution and their peers in a meaningful way, while also meeting them where they are (including in-person, hybrid, and virtual experiences).

Rodgers (1990) defines student development as “the ways that a student grows, progresses, or increases his or her developmental capabilities as a result of participation in Higher Education.” Student Affairs professionals are dedicated to ongoing research to best serve students, striving to be knowledgeable about the emerging trends of the students of the future, and continually evolving, to best serve students effectively. Student development theories provide frameworks that give Student Affairs practitioners different ways to look at and understand student growth and development. Student development theories are not to be used as stand-alone sources when informing initiatives, programming, and co-curricular experiences; Student Affairs practitioners must also aim to consider Indigeneity, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in all that they do. By understanding the unique needs of students based on the various intersections of their identity such as culture, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender expression, and physical or mental health disability, we provide better services and experiences for our students.

Student Affairs holds the important role of being stewards of public and student funds. With a commitment to fiscal responsibility, Student Affairs is entrusted with managing budgets and promoting efficiencies to maximize the impact of available resources. As stewards of funding sources including scholarships, grants and student fees, Student Affairs professionals prioritize transparency and accountability in financial management. We ensure that allocated funds are utilized effectively and in alignment with the institution's mission, strategic goals, and in the best interests of the student community. By exercising careful budgetary oversight, Student Affairs strives to optimize financial resources and promote responsible use of public funding. In pursuit of budgetary and operational efficiencies our professionals are careful to analyze spending patterns, identify areas for improvement, and implement strategies to optimize financial performance. By streamlining processes, reducing waste, and fostering collaboration, we work towards achieving cost-effectiveness and enhancing the student experience within existing financial constraints.


Our support does not stop with our students, the Student Affairs team also plays a critical role in supporting faculty and staff success. Our team can offer resources and training to faculty and staff that help to develop their skills to stay updated with the latest trends in student development and campus culture. We are also here to collaborate on providing student enrichment opportunities into the curricular experience, supporting mental health challenges, aiding in student conduct and restorative justice, advising on accessibility and accommodations, and can help staff to connect students in need of additional support and guidance with the appropriate resources.

Over the last decade sexual and gender-based violence on post-secondary campuses has been increasingly in the spotlight. High profile cases in the entertainment industry, sport, and on post-secondary campuses, have helped draw attention to the need for urgent action and accountability. And yet, as noted by the Courage to Act Education and Training toolkit (2021), the rates of gender-based violence on campuses have not changed in over 30 years. Clearly this tells us that the traditional approaches to sexual violence are not working. At U of G, we are working on doing things differently through a comprehensive approach which ensures that our education and prevention programming, response processes, and supports are trauma informed, anti-oppressive, coordinated, and rooted in harm reduction. The Sexual Violence Advisory Committee for Students leads this work on campus as it pertains to students. It is chaired by the Vice-Provost of Student Affairs and meets regularly throughout the year. The overall purpose of this committee is to provide input into revisions of the Sexual Violence Policy and Procedure, assist in the distribution of resources for sexual and gender-based violence education and support across campus, and to ensure appropriate prevention and response programs are available.