Hi everyone! Although a provincial association, OUSA would like to congratulate you all on surviving the long and arduous election season this year! The new majority Liberal government will no doubt affect the landscape of post-secondary education in the province. The leaves are changing, the government is changing, and we’ve also been seeking change and innovation in OUSA’s approach in tackling student advocacy- I’m excited to share some of these new iniatives with you today.
The most pressing matter to discuss is OUSA’s upcoming Fall General Assembly, where delegates from each of our seven member associations #cometogether to debate and (ideally) pass three policy papers. This year we have Student Financial Assistance, Teaching & Assessment, and the Broader Learning Environment up to bat, and we hope that by the end of the weekend we can have each of these papers stand as official policy on which OUSA can advocate. In addition, this year we’re doing things a little differently with the policy process. Usually, OUSA releases the papers two weeks before General Assembly, but this cycle we have released papers a week earlier than usual with the intention of increasing and improving student feedback. Many of our schools will be using this week to harness both delegate and general student thoughts through holding focus groups on each of the papers. We believe this is a better way to improve OUSA’s visibility on campus, as well as give OUSA’s Home Office a better idea of what our students think of the papers before GA itself. I look forward to being able to share how General Assembly unfolds a month from now, and updating you on the discussions.
Another new project we’re working on is a “best practices” sharing event for its members. During our Strategic Conference this past summer, our Steering Committee quickly identified the need to better integrate other student executives outside of just the VP Education/External and Presidents into the OUSA community. Our idea to build those connections is to hold a one-day venue for best practice sharing, where executives will be grouped together based on their portfolio to learn about how others manage their projects and programming effectively. As this is the first time OUSA will be running this type of event, we are optimistic that it will provide additional benefit to each of our members, and encourage further partnership between some of the best universities and student unions in the country.
Lastly, I have begun preliminary work on OUSA’s “Long-Term Plan”. Every three years OUSA’s Executive re-evaluates its Long-Term Plan as a way of measuring how OUSA is adapting to an ever-changing sector, and ensuring that OUSA remains forward thinking and a catalyst for new ideas. Like our Annual Plan, our Long Term Plan will examine ways to improve student engagement on our campuses, as well as better translate our advocacy asks to strong and tangible outcomes. We will also explore the ways in which OUSA’s provincial goals are interwoven with federal and municipal issues, as well as how we interact with other provincial student organizations and stakeholders within Ontario. We think that this plan will set an ambitious direction for OUSA in the coming years, and will continue our upward trajectory of influence in the post-secondary education sector.
This week also marks the last week of work for our Executive Director Sean Madden, who is moving on to another position. Sean has been a pillar of the OUSA community for years- first as a delegate, then OUSA President, then a Research Analyst at Home Office, then stewarding the organization as Executive Director. He has worked with dedication, passion, and humour to improve student life in Ontario in each capacity, providing mentorship and inspiration to a generation of student leaders in Ontario. His absence will be acutely felt, but we look forward to seeing where Sean’s next adventure takes him. We hear that he might even come visit November’s GA- which, by our rough estimate, is his seven thousandth General Assembly (jkjk).
I look forward to sharing new updates soon- good luck on those midterms!