Introducing Matthew Gerrits, Steering Committee Member from the University of Waterloo

Hello all, and greetings from the Federation of Students at the University of Waterloo. I am honored to be the Vice President, Education for the Federation of Students (Feds), and to serve as the Feds’ Steering Committee member for OUSA this year.

I am proud to come from an institution at the forefront of work-integrated learning and research in STEM. The differences between our institutions combined with the fact that most of us will only ever attend one university as an undergraduate student, can at times make it difficult to see the common experiences and shared opportunities for students across the province.

I got into this role because I tried to see those common opportunities for students at Waterloo, trying to see how I could serve, empower and represent students. Initially, I was focused on students in my program, but eventually I had the opportunity to represent and serve students in the Faculty of Environment. This is how I learned about the Federation of Students at the University of Waterloo, about effective advocacy, and about the amazing work that OUSA does.

Now, a couple years later I am in a new role, but my motivation is still the same; I want to serve, empower, and represent students. At the provincial level, this means I get to work with my amazing counterparts from across the province, and to learn from the struggles their students face and what solutions they have employed to help students. I’m looking forward to working with great people, and having the incredible opportunity to collaborate with them on directing advocacy, whether that means research, on-the-ground marketing campaigns, lobbying, or thinking outside the box on complex issues. But, when it comes down to it, this collaboration means that we get to tell the stories of Ontario students: their struggles, their triumphs, and what they think can make their education better. That is what I am excited to be able to do this year.

There are lots of things to be done, from advocating on tuition rates, to lobbying for mental health for students, and so many more things that affect students every day. There is a lot to learn this year, and a lot to do. I’m looking forward to it.