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.
My journey to this role was kind of an accident: when I applied to university out of high school, I was offered a conditional acceptance into the Regular Officer Training Plan for the Canadian Forces as an Aerospace Control Officer, on the condition that I successfully complete Aircrew Selection testing. Needless to say, I was unsuccessful. Coming from a multi-generation military family, my plan was to earn my degree from Laurier and re-apply as an Infantry Officer. My career outlook has significantly changed after my experiences here.
There were two significant moments that impacted my outlook on student advocacy: my first meeting as a volunteer with Laurier’s Vice-President: Student Affairs, David McMurray, and my second meeting as a volunteer with former Kitchener Centre Member of Parliament, Stephen Woodworth. I was surprised by their willingness to listen to an undergraduate student about their concerns and I knew that I had found something I was passionate about.
Since discovering this passion, I have been involved in numerous discussions on various advocacy topics at Laurier. Some of my favourite issues to advocate for are student financial aid and ancillary fee regulations. At Laurier, I am working on providing an educated student voice for Laurier’s governing bodies, fighting for a permanent Fall Reading Week, and pushing for the implementation of mandatory indigenous studies courses at the institution.
Advocacy is a long-term project. When I started I was surprised by my new responsibility for projects my predecessors began years ago. Realizing that the work you put in throughout the year may not be accomplished by the end of your term is something that is tough to understand. It is important for individuals in roles similar to mine to remember that no matter what happens at the end of the year – whether we have massive wins like last year or just slowly make progress towards significant issues - that we are part of a long-term process that benefits students across the province.
This year should be an exciting year for our Steering Committee! I’m looking forward to building upon the milestones that OUSA has had in the past and ensuring that we, as an organization, are one step closer to providing accessible, affordable, accountable and quality education for undergraduate students across Ontario.
OUSA Steering Committee Member
Vice President: University Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union