It’s hard to believe that September has already come and gone. For many students, this month marked a stressful time as they returned to their studies in a new and unfamiliar online format. OUSA has been hard at work continuing to support the challenging transition to remote learning. Our latest campaign, which aims to collect student feedback on the quality of post-secondary education during COVID-19, is now live. Please share how COVID-19 has affected your learning experience here.
Early in September, OUSA supported MPP and NDP Critic for Colleges and Universities Chris Glover’s petition for pandemic relief for post-secondary students. Students have continued to struggle with the affordability of their education, facing high tuition fees and cuts to OSAP, as well as job loss and insecurity due to the pandemic. OUSA believes that MPP Glover’s proposal, which includes a provincially-funded tuition rebate of $1,000 for full-time students and $500 for part-time students, would provide direct and immediate financial relief to students. We also participated in MPP Glover’s roundtable discussion about students’ concerns as they return to school this Fall. I shared OUSA’s perspective on behalf of our eight member associations, and we also heard incredible student testimony from our own Steering Committee member Malek Abou-Rabia, who highlighted the northern student perspective of online learning, including the lack of sufficient broadband internet access.
OUSA also continued to meet with stakeholders, students, and MPPs throughout September. In meetings with MPP Glover and MPP and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Colleges and Universities David Piccini, we shared OUSA’s priorities for the year—student mental health, racial equity, student financial aid, and quality of education. Additionally, we kicked off our annual campus visits by “visiting”’ Western and the University of Waterloo. Though our campus visits have gone virtual, we were still able to have productive meetings with university administrators and student leaders. We also presented at WUSA and USC’s virtual student council meetings.
OUSA also launched two important publications this month: our 14th edition of Educated Solutions, as well as a research report authored by our former intern Zamir, titled Post-Pandemic Pedagogies: What COVID-19 Can Teach Us About Blended, Distance, and Emergency Online Learning in Tomorrow’s World. Educated Solutions, which focuses on re-imagining post-secondary education in the age of COVID-19, includes contributions from sector stakeholders and OUSA alumni, as well as a foreword written by MPP David Piccini. Post-Pandemic Pedagogies draws on student voices using a variety of primary survey data to identify challenges that post-secondary students continue to face while they receive emergency online education. Both publications are incredibly timely and important as it becomes clear that online learning measures are no longer temporary, but rather a long-term solution as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking forward, October will be a busy month preparing for our Fall General Assembly, which will be hosted entirely online between October 28 and November 1. This month will be full of consultations, hosted by each member institution, to gather student feedback surrounding three policy papers: Environmental Sustainability; Housing, Transit, and Community Development; and A Comprehensive Access Strategy. The General Assembly will also be presented with an interim COVID-19 response policy paper to ensure students continue to feel supported with relevant policy recommendations throughout this pandemic. Stay tuned for updates on the outcomes of the General Assembly!
Until next month,