What can I say that hasn’t already been said? Perhaps I can offer my perspective, having joined the OUSA team without any prior experience in student leadership.
I have to admit, when I was first hired as a Research Analyst I was intimidated by the accomplishments of those around me. Here I am, having barely participated in extracurriculars at my university (I was in the Mac Dance Club—whoot!), surrounded by those with seats on university senates, student union presidents and vice presidents, taking regular meetings with the Dean of this or that. I felt completely out of my element. Sure, I’m ambitious. But not like the student leaders who were suddenly my colleagues and would soon be close friends.
What I admired more than their drive, perseverance, and work ethic, was the amazing opportunities they had to improve the lives of their peers in tangible ways. Need a bus pass to get around the new city you’re living in? The student union does that. Need health and dental coverage because you’ve aged out of your parents’ plan? The student union has that. Worried you’re not going to be able to afford textbooks next semester? Guess what: the student union owns the consignment bookstore (#deals).
I definitely didn’t see these students getting the credit they deserved while I was a student at McMaster. I didn’t even realize what the MSU had to offer (except of course that delicious, fair-trade coffee in the Union Market).
To see that their work extends far beyond campus was even more of a trip. And it’s these efforts that truly go unnoticed. Anyone remember the 30%-Off Tuition Grant? OUSA did that. Any beneficiaries of the Ontario Distance Grant? OUSA did that too. To be so young and motivating such huge political change was amazing to me. Absolutely amazing.
Being a part of such important work, lead by truly inspiring individuals has been a great privilege.
I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of kindness in the last few days and really don’t know what I can say or do to give this back to those who deserve it.
To students at-large, believe in your student leaders and work with them to improve your experience. To all the great VP-Eds/UAs I‘ve worked with in the past and who will represent OUSA in the future: keep working, but have the courage to ask for help when you need. Change is possible. Only if we all work together and support each other.
I’ve seen it.
I’ve lived it.
Thank you, OUSA.