University Budgets and the Case for Fairer Cost Sharing
Interested in writing for OUSA? Contact Chisanga Mwamba, our Communications & Operations Coordinator.
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.
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, 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.
In my dream world, every classroom would be covered in rainbows and trans flags, filled with trans and queer students like myself and, frankly, taught by queer and trans professors. However, I live in reality, and, for me, reality often means being the only trans person in a room – and the classroom is no different.
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.
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.
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.
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 Gerrits, 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:
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.
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.
This might come as a surprise, but some students use alcohol and drugs recreationally — GASP! Who would’ve thought that a bunch of teenagers and early-twenty-somethings living away from their families for the first time would do such a thing?
You may have noticed a hint of sarcasm just now. After all, students using drugs and alcohol isn’t news. According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction and Stats Canada, 83% of 18-24-year-olds had used alcohol in the last year, and 26% of 20-24 year-olds had used illegal substances. What might come as a surprise is that students often avoid going to the hospital — when they need to go — because they’re worried about academic sanctions for underage drinking or illegal drug use.