My name is Jamie Cleary and I am thrilled to be serving as the 2016-17 OUSA President.
I recently finished my four years at Western University, attaining my Bachelor of Medical Sciences with an Honours Specialization in Physiology. Outside of the classroom I found a passion for advocacy, which drove me to run to be the University Students’ Council Vice-President. Advocacy, for me, means representing and supporting the needs and beliefs of students. It’s an opportunity to influence real and tangible change. However, none of these changes happen through the work of one individual. Advocacy requires a dedicated team working together towards a cause, and helping to create the change that their delegates deserve. I am so excited for the opportunity to be OUSA President, helping to lead a team with the ability to generate many positive impact for the future of all undergraduate students in Ontario.
OUSA has offered a hugely important platform for much of the change we experience as undergraduate students today. For me, OUSA has been instrumental in defining my out of classroom experience. It has enabled me to broaden my scope of learning to many diverse fields such as the world of policy, provincial lobbying, and government relations. I believe that this organization has defined what it means to be a true advocate and how to best represent the voice of our students. OUSA places students at the forefront of all of their efforts, letting them guide our policy processes and lobbying efforts. As this year’s President, it is my goal to make sure that this continues, collaborating with our students to best represent what they want and need from the province.
Over the years, OUSA has accomplished many incredible milestones, most recently, we saw great improvements and restructuring to our student financial aid systems. The reallocation of provincial tax credits into upfront financial aid is seen as a huge triumph for the post-secondary sector and I’m so excited to see the benefit that this will bring to students struggling to access higher education. I am very eager to be involved in the implementation of the new financial aid system, and working with the province to uphold the new sense of affordability we are providing.
It is very important for me, for this upcoming year, to help bring all of the member schools together to collaboratively decide on our priorities for the year. It is our collective voices that drive this organization forward. I am pleased to say that the OUSA Steering Committee has already started these conversations about our priorities. We are thrilled to begin conversations surrounding the province’s funding formula and tuition framework. We believe that this is a huge opportunity to once again improve the accessibility and affordability of being a student.
An old friend recently told me that he foresaw that this year is going to be a crucial one for post-secondary lobbying efforts. I am hopeful that this is true and looking forward to getting started. This year is going to be an important journey for our Steering Committee, hopefully filled with many further insights about what it means to be an undergraduate student, and about some of the harsh realities that many undergraduate students face. I hope that we continue to see great improvements in our sector and that OUSA continues to have the strong voice that it is known for. I am thankful, and proud to say, that I am very optimistic.
President, Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance
Vice-President, University Students’ Council of Western University