Housing, Transit, & Community Development
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The CBC recently investigated the availability of racial demographic data across Canadian universities. No surprise to anyone, they found that race-based data is severely limited (read almost non-existent) in the post-secondary sector. In the age of Big Data and the Information Economy, it is heartening to see serious discussion and concern about the ability to make evidence-based decisions in public discourse. Coming on the heels of on-going coverage of Toronto’s Children’s Aid Society’s and the Toronto District School Board’s efforts to show the value of race-based data, this investigation suggests at least some interest to expand this work.
Students’ concerns with housing and transit are generally considered local issues. Problems that exist in one municipality may not exist in another; solutions preferred by one community may be proven deficient elsewhere. These troubles are frequently reported on; it is easy to find news coverage about illegal student housing and the nuisance created by monster homes or about incomplete privately-owned student residences and inadequate interim accommodations. After combing through many articles like these and consulting with one another, our student leaders have grown increasingly confident that their constituents are experiencing common barriers to quality, affordable housing, and extensive inter-regional transit that warrant provincial responses.
The internationalization of higher education brings forth financial, political, and socio-cultural benefits to all stakeholders involved. The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, along with the Council of Ontario Universities, among others, have made it clear that international students and, more broadly, international education, are of utmost importance to the Ontario university sector. Nevertheless, substantial financial and cultural barriers persist that raise concerns about the transparency, accountability, and competitiveness of our institutions.
Effective teaching is a crucial component of student learning. Great instructors are capable of elevating course content to engage and inspire students, while poor instructors can significantly detract from the learning experience. Though every university will always have some number of excellent and awful instructors, it is worthwhile to look at the institutional mechanisms that attract, grow, and retain the latter ahead of the former. What practices and policies underlie the establishment of a “culture of teaching” on a university campus, and how does a school without such a culture come to develop one? Despite having spent the better part of the past year in Waterloo’s Federation of Students evaluating this very topic on my own campus, I don’t have any hard answers to offer – but perhaps I can provide some general insights.
Financial barriers have a way of taking over discussions about post-secondary access. Perhaps it is because they are tangible and the solutions are (at least logically) straightforward. Students can’t afford to go to university? Let’s make it more affordable. But as the government continues implementing revolutionary reforms to the Ontario Student Assistance Program, we must continue to prioritize the issue of access in this sector. This year’s access policy paper discusses students’ vision for a comprehensive provincial access strategy--one that prioritizes non-financial barriers to university.
It is amazing to think that we are already in the month of March and that our year will be wrapping up shortly. We at OUSA really look forward to the next couple months as SC approaches its final time with the organization and we begin to start transition. I know speaking from my role as OUSA President that it is going to be a difficult goodbye but I also look forward to the amazing things the incoming team will do.
With the release of the highly skilled workforce report and a significant focus in the sector on work-integrated learning, I feel that there are two things missing from these conversations that need to be addressed.
I really wanted to celebrate Black History Month this year--you know, #BlackFutures. I really wanted to write an informative blog and empower people to learn more about Black history in Canada. But I’ve been doing research. And in thinking about what I wanted to write about and trying to come up with something that would be relevant to the post-secondary sector and informative to readers, I kept coming across this saddening assertion:
Black people in Canada are a heterogenous, disparate group brought together by the shared experience of racism and discrimination.
“Political Science Internship Opportunity…” the subject line catches my attention as I scroll through my inbox. As a fourth year student, graduating in just a few months, the question of what I will do after graduation still has no answer. Excited at the mention of a potential opportunity to gain relevant experience, I click on the email.
So the time has come, today is my last day at OUSA. It’s been almost 10 years now since I have graduated from high school and started my undergrad education at the University of Lethbridge (still the best university by the way). I have had so many wonderful experiences and most of all, I have met so many interesting, passionate, and kind people along the way.