Happy beginning of the 2016/2017 school year! For those of us in the post-secondary education sector the greatest time of the year is upon us. Students are returning to campuses across our province with great enthusiasm for the year to come. In just a few days the lecture halls, campus lawns, and residence rooms will be alive with excitement. Our OUSA members are very ecstatic to welcome the class of 2020 to our institutions and I personally want to congratulate you on taking this next step in your lives.
OUSA has seen a great past month as we prepared for our year ahead. Our steering committee brought together our respective boards and executives to McMaster University for Best Practice Sharing Day. This provided a great opportunity for individuals from our institutions to network and collaborate together to improve the work that we are all doing. I’m eager to see many improvements throughout the year that will come as a result of these new found partnerships.
We have also been hard at work meeting with many MPPs and Ministry staff. It is great to see the passion that individuals have within our sector and I am so excited to continue these conversations in the year to come. Personally, I was really honoured to have met with former OUSA SC members and now government staffers Howie Bender and Paris Semansky. These meetings provided the opportunity to engage in many of OUSA’s priorities for the year. Blake Oliver, VP Education at McMaster, and myself shared the privilege of attending a ministry roundtable on non-financial barriers to post-secondary education. This was an amazing discussion surrounding early outreach for minority and marginalized groups, and I am delighted to see the government making this a priority.
This month, OUSA will be visiting all of our member campuses and I can’t wait!! Please come visit us to talk provincial advocacy and perhaps get some free swag. I personally am very excited to converse with students about issues facing them and their ideas for how to best improve their university experience. OUSA is dependent on student feedback to ensure pertinent advocacy!
September is such an exciting time for us and university is an experience like no other. It allows for self-discovery, scholarship, the attainment of society, and so much more. Students will meet lifelong friends and partners, embark on opportunities to expand learning beyond the classroom and get involved in ways never before imagined. My biggest piece of advice to you students, whether your first or fifth year, is to challenge yourself. What place other than university can you join an inner tube water polo team, sing in an acapella band, or play Quidditch like it’s a normality outside of the campus climate? Make value of that degree you are working towards over the next four years. I can tell you first hand that it wasn’t the memorization of the glycolytic pathway that defined my university experience, but rather those times where the unexpected and amazing happened. The undefinable. The magical moments that are unique to each.
No matter if you’re returning to campus for the last time or coming for your first, don’t limit yourself. This place is yours and make it so. Don’t try and carve a straight path because the twists and turns are way more fun.
"It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team. When the check is paid and you stay at the table. When it’s four a.m. and no one goes to bed. That night with the guitar. That night we can’t remember. That time we did, we went, we saw, we laughed, we felt. The hats." - The Opposite of Loneliness, Marina Keegan