Whether you’re sitting in the class before a midterm or scrolling through the MUNday Mail, you’ve probably heard a reference to the Blundon Centre as a student at Memorial. Perhaps you’ve even questioned if their services could help you? For many students, the Blundon Centre is an ambiguity, delineated to different assumptions that students hold around the idea of academic accommodations. While you might recognize that The Blundon Centre is rooted in student services for academic success, you may also question who can avail of these services? And you’re not alone! Research shows that only half of the students struggling come forward to get support. After my interview with the centre manager Jason Geary, I learned that the Blundon Centre is not exclusive to helping any student in particular but instead dedicates itself to maximizing equitable access to a successful learning experience.
The Blundon Centre is the office that students can go to talk about their academic success. This provides students with a confidential, safe space to discuss their needs for learning during challenging times. The Blundon Centre works closely with the Student Wellness Centre and can direct students that are struggling without a distinct diagnosis with an advisor. The Blundon Centre advisors can then work with students to help build specific strategies to approach their workload; the advisors can also help fulfill needs for time management techniques, counselling services, psychologists, learning strategists, etc. These services can further help students find their strengths and maximize their potential for success.
In my discussion with The Centre manager Jason Geary, he recognized that “equitable access to learning is what allows success” while describing the accommodations offered exclusively through the Blundon Centre. This equitable access hinges on the unique approach suited to each student’s individual needs; based on the students supporting documentation. Required documentation is specific to the student’s disorder and can come from Physiotherapists, Doctors, Psychologists, Occupational Therapists, etc. The Blundon Centre’s Accommodations have a broad range from academic to non-academic services, including accommodations for ADHD, Anxiety, Concussion or Post-Concussion, food allergies, and even accessible parking for those who require it.
The Blundon Centre also takes a proactive approach to help students by integrating “Universal Design” learning frameworks, Jason described this as: “an educational design system that encourages the development of courses and content where that student has increased evaluation choice.” These learning frameworks provide an inclusive learning process for students.
The reality of needing support during your academic life is inevitable during normal times. Still, as we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced students to increased stress while already balancing student life’s daily priorities. The unprecedented difficulties that come with navigating a whole new learning environment can be overwhelming. The centre staff understands this increased stress and as Jason emphasized “If you feel like you should be “better” at this, remember that everyone is struggling and it’s okay to ask for help.” As a result of online learning, the number of students with accommodations has skyrocketed at The Blundon Centre since the beginning of the pandemic—a great sign that students are aware of their needs and willing to reach out to reach their goal despite these uncertain times.
During my conversation with Jason, he stated that “you don’t need us until you need us, and it’s never too late”. This resonates as a reflection of how challenges that threaten academic success can occur at any time. Despite multiple assignments and copious amounts of material to learn, there is no deadline for needing support. Whether you’re in your first semester of your first year or the last semester of your final year, the Blundon Centre recognizes that each student has unique needs to excel in their learning environment.
Academic life can be daunting at times, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone; support at the Blundon Centre is only an email away. As an institution offering over one-hundred-degree programs, there are thousands of students and a plethora of unique aspirations for each of those students. Each student holds their own strife for success and there is no shame in achieving your goals with campus support.
A closing reminder for the students from Jason Geary:
“The institution is really trying to acknowledge that students are unique and have unique needs, but the support is there.”