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Reflecting on OUSA

Time to say goodbye.

      - Andrea Bocelli

                  - Jason DeRulo/Nikki Minaj/Willy William

                                                              - Colin Aitchison

I was initially drawn to OUSA as an undergraduate student due to the organization’s active engagement with its membership. From the Blue Chair campaign to the Gender Pay Gap campaign, OUSA actively worked with students on their member campuses to highlight and discuss key concerns affecting undergraduates across the province. Now, after 7 General Assemblies, a year on OUSA’s Steering Committee, and a wonderful year and a half as a staff member here, I have had the time to reflect on the impact this organization has in Ontario’s post-secondary sector.

Having joined OUSA’s home office team immediately after my tenure on our Steering Committee, I was unprepared for the amount of growth I would have during my employment here. From visiting all of our member campuses and engaging with everyday students to conducting interviews and learning about the challenges and barriers affecting mature students in Ontario, I can confidently say that every conversation I have had with a member of OUSA has taught me some sort of lesson.

The passion and engagement of our members are inspiring. Whether it be the students who heavily critiqued a policy paper at a General Assembly, or the students tweeting out about our campaigns or advocacy efforts, OUSA’s membership has never been afraid to stand up for what they believe in. It is this drive and engagement that has helped OUSA create a positive reputation, resulting in politicians, stakeholders, and bureaucrats all taking the student voice seriously.

Before I end this, I just want to leave a few pieces of advice:

To the everyday student attending university: Make your voice heard, and don’t be afraid to reach out to your student union executives if you like, or even dislike, a decision that has been made. I can confidently say that the student leaders I have worked with genuinely care about the opinions of students on their own campuses, and hearing about both their successes and potential areas for improvement will help them grow in their roles.

To student leaders: Make sure to take time for yourself. During your term, it is easy to think that every single issue needs to be addressed immediately, but if you neglect a healthy work/life balance you will not only be doing yourself harm, but you will also be impacting your ability to adequately represent and serve your students.

To the staff supporting student leaders: At times our jobs may be challenging, but the reward of seeing student leaders grow and develop over the course of their term is worth it. Ensuring that our organizations remain student-driven is what will continue to provide both individual student unions and groups like OUSA with the credibility they require to best serve and represent students.

And to the stakeholders, politicians, and university administrators: Continue to give students a seat at the table, and actively listen to their voice. Without students, the higher education sector would be irrelevant. It is important that we actively engage the individuals who are directly impacted by any changes that are implemented in our sector.

To everyone I have had the pleasure of working with over the past year and a half, thank you. I have enjoyed every minute of my experience at OUSA. I am looking forward to seeing what this organization and its members continue to do in the months and years to come.