a, Editorial, Opinion

Editorial: More inclusivity needed to improve the Co-Curricular Record

The Co-Curricular Record (CCR) has been available through MyInvolvement since 2013. At the moment, students can track their involvement in athletics, student governance, McGill workshops, and Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) clubs. Administrators are currently discussing ways of expanding the CCR so that it can be used to improve student CVs. If this process continues, students will soon be able to request an official copy of the CCR signed by the deputy provost, thereby giving an activity official McGill verification. While these changes are designed to aid students in validating their extra-curricular activities, it also creates an arbitrary structure of what is considered valuable to the university. Rather than pitching the CCR as an essential component of the modern resume, it should be considered as a tool for students to track their engagement.

Proponents of the CCR contend that it will legitimize extra-curricular experiences for students and bolster their resumes post-graduation. Yet there is sparse evidence to suggest that a CCR is something that graduate schools or employers expect from applicants. At Queen’s University, for example, there was not enough student support for the implementation of a CCR and the project was abandoned. At Laurier, the program is voluntary and students must opt-in; its system also documents learning outcomes from involvement. At McGill, adding this nuance would improve the qualitative strength of the CCR, but cause problems in the process of validation. How the deputy provost, or any university administrator, would endorse the growth of a student in these terms remains unclear.

If the CCR is to take a more formal place alongside resumes, it must become more inclusive. In its current form, it suggests that volunteering one’s time is more valuable than being employed part-time. Students who are more financially constrained and unable to take less courses are disadvantaged by this line of thinking. The CCR is undoubtedly a useful tool for tracking involvement, but it must not become an additional burden for students who are unable to take unpaid internships or take on volunteer responsibilities.

The CCR is undoubtedly a useful tool for tracking involvement, but it must not become an additional burden for students who are unable to take unpaid internships or take on volunteer responsibilities.

Moreover, it is likely to encourage students to join more clubs at a superficial level. Quality may be accounted for by identifying how long a student has participated in a club, but, as SSMU Vice-President (VP) External Emily Boytinck has said, the CCR may encourage title-grabbing behaviour. This is not necessarily malicious—many students become members of various organizations throughout their time at McGill, but oftentimes that membership does not require full participation or engagement in the club or society. SSMU VP Clubs and Services Kimber Bialik has also argued that the CCR will be more beneficial to students who are involved in more organizations, thereby perpetuating superficial involvement. On the other hand, the CCR would help demonstrate how students use their time.

While there will be an expansion of the number of organizations and activities currently listed under the CCR, it excludes certain activities. Consequently, it creates a hierarchy that is both arbitrary and exclusionary. For example, positions for which you receive a stipend are ineligible; McGill-adjacent groups, such as CKUT and QPIRG, are not included; student activism is also excluded. Discouraging the voices of students, whether in media or activism, is a dangerous game. If a student participates in various activities, some of which are eligible for the CCR and some of which are not, the discrepancy would undoubtedly cause confusion with employers and reduce the value of the non-CCR activities. Students must be able to select which activities are included on the CCR.

The development of a CCR raises the need for the creation of a registry for clubs in SSMU. The CCR does require club supervisors to validate positions of executive members in a club, but how this verification will follow when students use the CCR after graduation is unclear. A complete registry would document membership through time so that employers may corroborate an applicant’s CV with greater ease. Rather than tracking down the individual who was president of the club after they themselves have graduated, students would have a secure place to direct potential employers. Instead of creating a hierarchical value system for student involvement, a registry would enable students to use the CCR as a tool while reducing the potential obstructions to verifying their involvement after graduation.

 

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