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Presidential Update - July, 2016

Hi everyone!

Hopefully you are all enjoying these summer months and are finding creative ways to enjoy this wonderful heat we are having. It is hard to believe that OUSA’s steering committee has been together for 2 months. We have been hard at work preparing for a great year of post-secondary research, lobbying, and advocacy efforts. As this year’s President, I am thrilled to be writing monthly updates to you all – giving you the “ins and outs” of what we have been up to and what is potentially to come.

A Collective Becoming: Investing in Mentorship

It’s that time of year again – the halfway point of summer vacation, where university students begin to anticipate the upcoming school year merely two months away. Soon they will be packing their bags, and university campuses will once again be buzzing with classes and events. The thought of returning to this familiar routine where I find myself balancing assignments and extra-curricular involvement, or attempting to find that healthy meal during the stress of exam season, has caused me to most recently reflect – how did I manage all of this on my own?

Strategic Planning Conference Recap

Of all the events OUSA hosts each year, I think our annual strategic planning conference (StratCon) is my favorite.

This year we held StratCon at the beginning of July. All home office staff and members of steering committee get together for an intensive, four-day work retreat up in cottage country, away from distractions. This is one of the most important events we host all year, and this year’s was particularly productive: we discussed policy matters for the upcoming changes to financial aid, decided on some possible topics for future policy review, finalized our annual budget, reviewed our operating policies, and had in-depth discussions about all other strategic and organizational goals for the year. It was a jam-packed conference and we worked pretty consistently throughout each day, but I think we all left well prepared, and with a clear vision for the year.

Introducing Leah Brockie: Steering Committee Member from Queens University

Hi everyone!

My name is Leah Brockie, and I am the Academic Affairs Commissioner in the Alma Mater Society at Queen’s University. I am the AMS’ advisory member on Steering Committee, meaning I do not vote, but I act as a resource to provide greater insight and information on academic issues. My entire portfolio is related to academics, so I spend a great deal of time reading about different aspects of the sector, and meeting with our administration to voice undergraduate needs and concerns. I am excited to use this knowledge and experience to provide informed contributions to Steering Committee discussions.

Empowering Learners, Effecting Change: Sharing LGBTQ+ students’ ideas about inclusivity in the classroom

Last Thursday, I (Danielle Pierre) had the pleasure of giving a talk with our Summer Research Intern, Lindsay D’Souza, at the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education’s (STLHE) Empowering Learners, Effecting Change conference. This was their largest conference to date with over 800 participants. Presenters shared their expertise in the form of keynote addresses, interactive concurrent sessions, research presentations, pecha kucha presentations, and posters.

Introducing Colin Aitchison: Steering Committee Member from Wilfrid Laurier


My name is Colin Aitchison and I am excited to be sitting on OUSA’s 2016-17 Steering Committee!

I am entering my fifth year at Wilfrid Laurier University, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science. While at Laurier, I’ve had the opportunity to work in student government as both a volunteer in our University Affairs department and on our student executive team as Chair of the Board & Chief Governance Officer. These experiences allowed me to talk with students about their concerns as an undergraduate. As a member-driven organization, I feel this kind of dialogue is important as it allows for us to adequately represent their interests within the Students’ Union, at the University, and at the three levels of government.

Introducing Kayla Smith: Steering Committee Member from Trent Durham

Hey everyone!

My name is Kayla Smith, and I am so excited to be part of the 2016-17 Steering Committee.

I am currently entering my fourth year at Trent University, completing my Honours Bachelor of Science in Psychology. For the sake of transparency, I have to admit that becoming part of the TDSA’s executive team was never part of my original plan, but I have always been a fervent supporter and advocate for those around me. So, when I considered what it would mean for me to be VP University Affairs, I was enthusiastic about the challenging advocacy opportunities that it would bring.

Introducing Blake Oliver: Steering Committee Member from McMaster

Hello everyone!

I'm Blake Oliver and I am so excited and honoured to be serving on this year's Steering Committee. Outside of OUSA, I am the Vice President (Education) and Corporate Officer of the McMaster Students Union (MSU).

I first set foot on McMaster's campus three years ago. It was May at Mac, the annual Spring preview day that allows newly accepted potential Mauraders to get a feel for the campus before deciding if McMaster is right for them. I knew right when I stepped on campus that Mac was where I wanted to be.