Wilfrid Laurier University Uses 'Good Data' to Drive Success


Advocate at Wilfrid Laurier University

Good data can completely transform an institution's practices, processes, and programs. The Residence and Behavioral Intervention teams at Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) are living proof that using data in making impactful changes on their campus and in their student’s lives - enriching the experience and success of their students. The school uses Advocate by Symplicity, hosted on Amazon Web Services, to target at-risk students and send reminders for misconduct prevention. This has led to a decrease in recidivism for repeat offenders during high-risk times which directly resulted in higher student retention.

“Reporting is a really important part of Advocate. I’m amazed at all the possibilities that exist within reporting and all the ways I can use the information.”

Elissa Cressman, MEd,
Residence Life Manager, Wilfrid Laurier University

Advocate data helps create new conduct policies for St. Patrick’s Day

Advocate is used campus-wide for all conduct matters, but the Department of Residence is the most prominent user of the system. The staff leverages Advocate to run reports on conduct trends by residence hall, incident type, timeframe, and more. Advocate data was crucial in creating new guest policies for busy weekends like the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration which draws over 15,000 visitors. Residence staff noticed a significant uptick in conduct violations that weekend, so they wanted to implement a no-guest policy to limit the number of students on campus. Staff ran comparative reports to highlight incidents on St. Patrick’s Day weekend versus a non-holiday weekend. The data was presented to senior leadership who agreed that new policies need to be created around these particular types of events to manage and prevent further violations.

Residence staff also leveraged Advocate’s communication capabilities to reach out to students on probation and on notice and remind them of the new residence conduct policies. Such efforts led to a 15% drop in incident reports and a 70% decrease in overall policy violations compared to last year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration (2017). Despite a 10% increase in resident population for 2018, student misconduct cases have dropped by 40% in the last six months.

Reporting highlights staff performance and fortifies university relationships

Advocate was a key tool in helping the university assess their staff’s workload and review their overall performance. As reporting became more widely adopted, staff members were given more responsibilities which led to a higher workload. Conduct staff used Advocate data to show the increase in reporting activities and request hiring another full-time employee. Likewise, the data in Advocate gave leadership visibility into their team’s performance to address whether staff were responding to incidents in a timely manner.

The Residence team also uses reporting to present data to various campus stakeholders including the Dean of Students, Special Constable Services, and the Wellness Centre. Since many student residents are members of a campus organization, the staff uses the Associated Groups function in Advocate to label students as members of those organizations. When campus partners want insight into conduct violations for a particular association, staff members can pull all records for students labeled within that group. The increased visibility helps campus partners proactively address issues with their students of concern.

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