Student Advocacy Conference: Recap for 2020
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Hey everyone, My name is Fawziyah and I’m serving at the Vice-President Education for the McMaster Students Union for the 2020/21 year. I am excited to be sitting on the OUSA Steering Committee this year and I am hopeful for the advocacy wins we can bring to undergraduate students.
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Updated: June 15th, 2020
Hello, aanii, bonjour!
My name is Malek Abou-Rabia and I’m the Vice-President Education of the Students’ General Association (SGA/AGÉ) at Laurentian University.
I’ve called Laurentian home my entire life. From being a swimmer for the Laurentian club for nearly ten years, to having all my family members either work or study here, I have spent my whole life surrounded by Laurentian culture and academia. In this time, I’ve grown a passion for this campus, its gorgeous environment, the five lakes surrounding the University, and the tight-knit community that makes Laurentian so special. You can only imagine how excited I was to finally be a student here and live on campus when I started last fall. I’m currently entering my second year of Entrepreneurship in Business Administration.
It feels a little surreal to be writing my final OUSA Presidential Update. When I started out in student government - about four years ago now - I could not have expected the places it would take me (quite literally - as a proud Newfoundlander, I feel grateful to have seen so many parts of Ontario over the past few years); the opportunities and growth it would offer, and the challenges the years would present.
Hey there! My name is Zamir Fakirani and I’m beyond excited to be joining the OUSA team as this summer’s Research Intern.
My passion for the post-secondary student experience arose from my time working at the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities. Here, I was able to witness first-hand how the relationship between students, post-secondary institutions, and the various levels of government interact to influence students’ academic and interpersonal wellness. My time at the Ministry affirmed my commitment to student advocacy and I have been passionately involved ever since.
On March 12, in response to the global pandemic, Western University President Alan Sheppard issued a statement indicating that all classes would be transitioned to online-only effective the following Wednesday.1 Western was not the first, nor the last, post-secondary institution to make such a decision. Although these decisions were fundamental to ensuring health and safety of the communities in which post-secondary institutions are situated, the sudden move to online learning resulted in a tumultuous transition for administrators, faculty members, and students across the province, especially because it happened alongside social distancing, isolation, and returning ‘home’. As the President of the Social Science Students’ Council at Western, I have been, and continue to be, a point-of-contact for students in my faculty who require assistance navigating these changes, as well as a liaison to the Dean’s Office for our students. I would like to share some of what I’ve learned from this unprecedented situation to shed light on the experiences of Western and Ontario students generally. I hope that university administrators and government officials pay attention to student experiences and adapt their approaches to similar situations in the future.
Since beginning my journey in the post-secondary world, April has always felt bittersweet. It is the start of spring, the period of final exams, and also for many students, a time to say goodbye and see you later to the friends we’ve made, professors we’ve admired, and lessons we’ve learned. It’s probable this chapter - whether it is your first or fifth year of studies - is not closing as you expected. Therefore, I urge you to reflect on what you are grateful for; reach out to connect with those you may be apart from; and take some time to celebrate all that you’ve accomplished this year. If you recently finished your final examinations and projects - congratulations! If you still have a couple days left, know that everyone here at OUSA is cheering you on.
E-cigarettes, juuls, e-pipes, vape pens - whatever you may call them, they are quickly becoming very popular among university students as a presumably healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes.
Even at the best of times, April is a tough month for post-secondary students. Many are writing exams, looking for a summer job, or waiting on grad school acceptances. Others are figuring out what they’ll do after graduation. COVID-19 has made all of this even more challenging, and students have a lot to worry about — where they’ll live, how they’ll pay their bills, and what universities and the job market will look like moving forward.
I had the chance to chat with one of our Steering Committee members, Rayna, who is not only the Vice President University Affairs of Trent Durham Student Association and a communications major but she is also a part-time healthcare worker at Northumberland Hills Hospital in Cobourg, Ontario.
Given the events of the past couple of weeks, healthcare workers have been working around the clock to keep our citizens healthy. The provincial government has also announced changes to aid Canadians, including students, in this difficult time. Because she’s been affected as a student, student leader and as a healthcare worker, I wanted to ask Rayna a few questions and get her perspective.