Another successful General Assembly (GA) is in the bag for OUSA! This fall GA, we gathered at Wilfrid Laurier University in Kitchener-Waterloo where student leaders spent four intensive days discussing and approving student-written policy papers. The conference brought together all of our member schools in person with the new addition of the Ontario Tech Student Union, taking our membership slate to represent nine schools and over 160,000 students in Ontario! The excitement from seasoned GA delegates and some of the nervousness of 1st time-goers made for a riveting weekend with laughter, hugs and inside jokes.
At the onset of GA, we had the pleasure of participating in a session hosted by Zanab from our EDI consultant, Bettering. Delegates were walked through different case scenarios on how to employ an anti-oppression lens in their policy analysis, an important aspect of all the work OUSA does, and something we are working on improving through our writing and feedback processes.
The three policy papers at hand for this GA were:
- Student Health and Wellness
- Housing, Transit, and Community Development
- Rural and Northern Students
GA has three main components to ensure student voices from each delegation are maximized on our policy papers: breakout room sessions, authors rewrites/review, and plenary. We started the conference with two days of breakout rooms where student authors from Brock, McMaster, Waterloo, Queen’s, Ontario Tech, Western, and Laurentian sought feedback from delegations across all our member schools to ensure the papers accurately represent students’ concerns.
Following the breakout rooms, student authors go into long evenings of rewriting with our Research and Policy Analysts and Executive Director to address delegate comments so the papers are ready for review the next day and ready to be voted in at plenary. As always, we uphold the “equal part fun, equal part work” motto, and so author rewrites were accompanied by fun socials. This included a Halloween Karaoke Party; WLUSU truly stole the moon [in Gru’s voice] this time with one of the best group costumes.
We also had the honour of listening to Tanja Curic, a senior policy planner from the City of Waterloo, talk about city planning and community development as we continued to develop the Housing, Transit and Community Development policy paper. Come Sunday, plenary day, we headed into debate and long discussion.
After 12 hours, some emergency coffee and pizza orders, and an immense amount of patience from our Speaker, Sean Madden, we passed all three policy papers on October 29th, 2023! The joy of passing the final paper can not be better expressed than this picture below.
Needless to say, we made the friendship bracelet, took the moment, and tasted the hard work of student-centric advocacy but nobody is on their own in this journey. A massive thank you to the team at Wilfrid Laurier University Student’s Union for organizing such a great conference and ensuring all delegations were cared for and well-fed!
And that is the end of our Fall GA tail! Planning is already underway for Spring GA in March 2024 at McMaster. See y’all there!