Blog

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Presidential Update - March 2020

I’m going to be honest - writing this presidential update was difficult. At the time of my last update, OUSA was gearing up for one of our most productive months of the year with our In It Together Reception at Queen’s Park, our Spring General Assembly, the release of  the Ontario Budget, and our Partners in Higher Education Dinner. In the post-secondary sector, students were beginning to study for finals, confirm their summer plans, begin to consider their next steps after completing their post-secondary journey, and say their goodbyes as the spring academic year came to a close. Within the span of a couple of days, global society recognized the magnitude of our pandemic - and what immediate measures were necessary to ensure that we can help our communities stay healthy, and to help support our healthcare system.

Diversity: It is not just about race

In his innovative book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Friere defines education as an intimate relationship between student, teacher, and society. Learning revolves around discourse - a student is not just “taught”, they are a co-creator of knowledge. For Friere, the essence of education is to empower students with the ability to apply different perspectives and lenses to a subject or issue. This encourages them to break away from individualistic thinking and adopt a holistic approach that fosters critical consciousness.

In It Together: Addressing the Student Mental Health Crisis

Mental health is one of the most pressing issues on university campuses across Ontario, with more students experiencing depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts every year.

Being a student is a stressful balancing act. They’re under pressure to achieve high grades, join clubs, and decide what to do after graduation, choosing between a crowded job market and competitive graduate or professional degree programs. Many are living on their own for the first time and learning to manage their finances. Others are raising a family or looking after ongoing health concerns. University is expensive, too; almost forty percent of students work during the school year to make ends meet,[1] often at the expense of their studies. In a recent OUSA survey, more than half of students said working while studying hurt their academic performance.[2]

Presidential Update - February 2020

Hello!

Now that January – the Monday of the months – is over, I’m excited to share some OUSA updates with everyone. 

First, I want to congratulate students and student associations across the province for engaging in the democratic process and participating in their local student government elections. Electing strong student representatives is vital to ensuring that the student voice is not lost. 

 

Why Post-Secondary Institutions Should Prioritize Experiential Learning

A Primer on Experiential Education in Ontario

 

Today, higher education learning extends well beyond the traditional classroom to involve anything from visiting the office of a local Member of Parliament to walking through a city park or the assembly plant of a major car manufacturer! Motivated by innovation in pedagogy and a call to prepare students for the new world of work, post-secondary institutions have welcomed experiential learning across all disciplines. 

Presidential Update - January 2020

Hello and Happy New Year!

This Presidential Update marks the conclusion of OUSA’s first month in the new decade. As we look forward to a new decade of advocacy in the post-secondary education sector, OUSA’s Steering Committee and I have reflected on how we can continue to push student priorities in innovative ways and partner with our stakeholders across the province to raise student voices. Some of the work we are excited about this month include our budget submission to the provincial government, our submission to the government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, and our joint student mental report: In It Together. 

Pathways to Student Advocacy

OUSA’s Steering Committee members are some of the most passionate and knowledgeable student advocates in the province. This interview series is an opportunity to share some of their experiences and knowledge with a wider audience of future (and current) student advocates. 

Matthew Gerritts, OUSA’s VP Finance and the VP Education at the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association, is serving his second term on OUSA’s Steering Committee and can tell you more about the history of student associations in Ontario than you’d think one person can know. Here is his student advocacy story:

 

Why being on your phone makes you a better advocate (ad-phone-cacy)

As the new year rolled around, many of us took to social media platforms, be it Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook (if anyone even uses that anymore?) to reflect upon the past year and our goals moving forward. Several of us also used these platforms to talk about how politics, policies, and events across the world (the good, the bad, and the ugly) have shaped our lives, the decade, and humanity as a whole. 

For 2020, Let’s Commit to Accessibility

A few weeks ago I went for breakfast at my favourite diner (this post is not #sponsored), and while waiting to be seated, I saw something behind the counter that caught my attention: their policy on providing accessible service. We had slept in that morning and were caught in the rush of a busy Sunday morning, which gave me a few minutes to scan the document from where we waited.