Balancing School and Family, School, Student Life

In conversation with the Grad Conflict Resolution Centre

Grad CRC

The Graduate Conflict Resolution Centre (CRC) is a tri-campus resource for best practices in conflict resolution and dispute prevention. The CRC was formed as a partnership of the School of Graduate Studies (SGS), Student Life, and the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) to help graduate students, staff, and faculty deal with conflict earlier on and more effectively. Their objective is to help members of the graduate community to navigate their own ways in dealing with conflict without judging, intervening, or advocating.

The Family Care Office got in touch with G2G Peer Advisor Terence Lai and CRC Manager Heather McGhee Peggs to discuss the different resources they offer and the ways in which grad students can learn how to find a balance between academic responsibilities and family life.

 

Who are G2G peer advisors?

 

Our G2G (Grad-to-Grad) peer advisors are graduate students at U of T who have conflict resolution training and knowledge of on-campus resources available to support grads. Grad students are welcome to connect confidentially with any member of the G2G team to talk about any issue or conflict which is affecting your academic experience. Most students talk to us about more than one issue. Some examples include: supervision challenges; relationships with lab mates or fellow students; supports are available to help with writing, research; health & wellness; and, strategies for preparing for a difficult conversation. The G2G will not intervene or advocate—you decide how, when or if, you want to resolve a concern.

 

How do you get in touch with a G2G peer advisor?

 

G2Gs are available by appointment or at one of the drop-in tables at various locations across the St. George campus: Rotman Café, OISE Lobby, Bahen Centre, Grad Room, and Student Family Housing.

Drop-ins are advertised daily on Twitter. For students who are not on campus, we also have drop-ins and appointments available by Skype; please send us an email at gradcrc@utoronto.ca if you would like to set up an appointment.

 

What else does the Grad CRC offer?

 

The CRC also provides conflict management training. We work closely with GradLife and SGS to offer workshops and talks to students, staff, and faculty. Conflict isn’t just a “student” issue—we stress the importance of early and effective conflict resolution across the graduate community. Last year we did a webinar with the FCO on negotiating time for family; we’d love to do another one this year!

 

Why is the Grad CRC helpful for students who have family responsibilities?

 

We recognize that the issues facing graduate students are often complex and multifaceted. The G2Gs strive to help students prioritize issues and identify appropriate resources, both on-campus and off-campus. As a service, the CRC G2Gs are unique in that we are grad students too; we understand what it might be like to be balancing graduate and family responsibilities.

 

What kind of advice can you offer grad students who are struggling to find a balance between academic responsibilities and family life?

 

We often suggest to students that they can think about prioritizing their responsibilities based on urgency (Are there any deadlines that you need to consider?), importance (What seems most pressing from your perspective?), and easy-wins (Is there something you could do right now to make things better?). By talking things through with someone outside of their situation with no vested interest in any particular outcome, students are able to develop plans that work for them and their unique circumstances. We don’t tell students what to do or not to do—we simply give them an opportunity to consider complex issues with a trained fellow grad.

 

Is there anything else you would like grad students with family responsibilities to know?

 

Come and talk to us! The G2Gs often work in pairs for appointments and drop-ins. Further, all of the G2Gs bios are available on our website. If you would like to find out more about the Grad CRC, please do not hesitate to visit the drop-ins or contact us at gradcrc@utoronto.ca. We look forward to talking to you!