OUSA releases policy paper "Student Accessibility and Disability Inclusion"
Interested in writing for OUSA? Contact Crystal Karmen Mak, our Operations & Communications Coordinator.
Content warning: References to sexual- and gender-based violence
The Student Voices on Sexual Violence Survey conducted across Ontario’s post-secondary student population in 2018 yielded disappointing results. Amongst the most startling findings were that, of the 117,148 survey respondents, 23.0% experienced sexual assault and 63.2% experienced sexual harassment since the start of the 2017-2018 academic year. Students across the province were rightfully disturbed by these statistics and continued to demand changes to their respective institutions’ sexual- and gender-based violence (SGBV) policies. In response to the survey results, for example, OUSA and its member student associations reaffirmed their commitment to addressing SGBV through policy and funding. This included advocating for additional provincial funding through the Campus Safety Grant – which was met with a six million dollars commitment from the government. The conversation on our campuses turned to how to translate this new-found attention and funding from the broader post-secondary education community into tangible action and safer campuses. Yet discussions on solutions have continued to fall short.
Reflecting back on my short and sweet time at OUSA - I was given the opportunity to balance the roles of both our communications and operations portfolios.
My name is Alexa Leitch, and I am the Vice President, External Affairs at the Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU), at Brock University in St. Catharines. I am honoured to have the opportunity to represent Brock students and BUSU as a Steering Committee Member for OUSA this year. Along with serving as a SC member, I am beyond excited to serve as OUSA’s Vice President of Administration and Human Resources for 2020-2021.
Lecture-based teaching has become the norm across universities. A professor at the front of the class, a PowerPoint presentation, and hundreds of students. Most of my classes have run in this fashion, and for the most part, the students have learned and done well. However, classes that require more practical, hands-on work, and which involve applying theoretical knowledge, need to adopt a different formula to support students’ academic success.
Hail and well met! My name is Nathan R. G. Barnett, and I’m the Vice President of University Affairs at the Trent Durham Student Association (TDSA). I’m so honoured and excited to be TDSA’s Steering Committee (SC) member for the 2020-2021 year. I’m a big fan of all things pop culture, especially Marvel, Harry Potter, and Star Trek, but I’m an especially big fan of all things queer pop culture!
My name is Julia Pereira and I am the Vice President: University Affairs for Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union. On May 26, I was also elected as the President of OUSA. I’d like to introduce myself and express my excitement for the upcoming year with OUSA and the opportunity to advocate towards a more accessible, affordable, accountable, and high-quality post-secondary sector. As incoming President, I am equally excited to lead a Steering Committee full of passionate individuals who are truly dedicated to representing undergraduate students across all of our member institutions.
June has been a busy yet exciting month as we welcome a new Steering Committee for the 2020/2021 term. Our first two conferences, Welcome Conference and Strategic Conference, were held online through Zoom for the first time. Despite this new environment, both were wonderfully productive and OUSA’s newest SC was able to plan for the year ahead, setting advocacy priorities which place accessible, affordable, accountable, and high-quality post-secondary education in Ontario at the forefront of what we do.
My name is Mackenzy Metcalfe and I am the Vice President External Affairs at Western Univerity’s Students’ Council (USC). On May 22nd, I was also elected Vice President Finance of OUSA. I recently graduated from Western with an Honours Specialization in International Relations and am excited to return to campus this year to further advocate for student-led change.
“A lot of folks without disabilities don't realize is how important accessibility measures and accommodations can be in enabling someone to have a meaningful and successful academic experience.”
Recently, OUSA had the opportunity to provide feedback to the AODA Alliance on their Draft Framework for a Post-Secondary Education Accessibility Standard. This framework is being developed to inform changes to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. For many individuals who do not have a disability, this raises the question: why do we need a legislated accessibility standard for post-secondary students and education?
My name is Matthew Mellon and I am the Commissioner of External Affairs for the Alma Mater Society of Queen’s University this upcoming academic year. I am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as a member of OUSA’s Steering Committee and to advocate for a high-quality, accessible, and fair post-secondary educational experience alongside some amazing student leaders from across the province.