I am very excited to introduce myself as the new President of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance. My name is Spencer Nestico-Semianiw, and I’ve just finished my third year of McMaster’s Arts & Science program. Over the last few years I’ve had the privilege to involve myself in student life here at McMaster, and I hope to extend this experience and passion to PSE across the province.
For those of you familiar with OUSA, I’m not exactly a new face to the organization. Last year I served as the four month summer intern in our downtown office, and had the chance to work with our full time staff on a variety of issues. Representing OUSA at Queen’s Park, meeting sector stakeholders, working on policy papers, and conducting research were all part of the job, and these phenomenal experiences were many of the reasons for why I wished to return to the organization. Moreover, as a research assistant and External Affairs commissioner within the McMaster Students Union, I’ve participated at three of OUSA’s general assemblies, as well as their Partners in Higher Education Dinner (affectionately termed PiHED). Thus, when being elected as the Vice-President (Education) for the McMaster Students Union in April, I had a very good sense of the value that this organization provides, and believed it was time for the MSU to take a leadership role as President. It is with this spirit that I am very honoured to be serving OUSA in this capacity.
The student voice is important, and the way it’s used can determine how post-secondary education continues to develop in our province. For many years OUSA has championed the diverse needs of students, and has worked with universities, government, and stakeholders to ensure that students are always heard in the decision-making process. We are successful as well – the province’s most recent budget is an example of how OUSA’s stances of financial assistance can lead to real change within the sector. As President I will strive to continue making these differences, and to continue positioning OUSA as a leader in post-secondary education.
Lastly, OUSA is nothing if not for the hard work, dedication, and persistence of its student leaders. As President my job is facilitative, and it is the leaders from each of our seven schools that truly propel our organization. During our Transition Conference we have already begun to discuss our priorities for the year, and are excited to engage in the consultation for the tuition framework and funding formula, as well as looking in to furthering the mental health aid for students, improving the quality of teaching and assessment, and looking into career and coop services as well as experiential education.
If the past is any indication, this will be a year of challenge and reward for OUSA. I look forward to engaging in it fully, and to working with a team of talented individuals to ensure post-secondary education meets the needs of students.