Both students and staff are hopeful that the new Staff-Student Mentoring Program launched Tuesday will foster stronger ties between faculty and students.
According to its statement of intent, the program’s main goal is to “facilitate informal out-of-classroom conversations between staff and students with the ultimate goal of enriching the University experience for all.”
It also hopes to “help close gaps, foster connections and build networks, as participants discover new opportunities and share knowledge and exchange insights about a wide variety of topics and interests.”
The program is currently in an exploratory period, throughout which it will receive feedback from participants based on evaluation criteria that are still in development. It is expected to use this feedback, and continue to evolve over the next couple of years.
“The program targets all undergraduate students. While we don’t specifically target first-year students, I think this could be particularly beneficial for them,” said Amara Possian, student Senate representative for the Faculty of Arts, who helped develop the project. “Once you have an informal conversation with a professor or administrator and realize they’re human, it makes everyone else much more approachable”
PGSS senator Alex Deguise brought up the possibility of mandatory mentoring for at-risk students during Senate’s committee discussion on mentoring and advising. There are currently no plans to make the program compulsory. However, both Possian and faculty senator from the Faculty of Science David Harpp – who also collaborated on the program with Dean of Students Jane Everett – mentioned that they were looking into the idea of retired faculty mentoring at-risk students.
To join the program, staff and professors create profiles on the program’s website. Students then log in and fill out a mentee application form from which they will be offered a choice of two possible mentors.
Once they’ve made their selection, the Office of the Dean of Students contacts the mentor and the mentee. It is then up to the mentor to contact the student.
Possian added that there has also been a lot of interest in using the program to match undergraduate students with graduate mentors.
“The PGSS could easily take our template and modify it to create their own mentorship program,” she said. “What we’re ultimately trying to do is create a culture of mentoring at McGill where members of the community are continuing to learn from each other.”