Presidential Update June 2024

Hello again!! Long time no chat ;) 


First and foremost - Happy Pride & Indigenous History Month! I hope June has been treating everyone well so far, and that you made it through Ontario’s heat wave last week. 

Welcome to the first of many (or at least 12) of my presidential updates, you’ll be able to tune in on the last Friday of each month to learn about what OUSA has been up to since we last spoke! 


To briefly reintroduce myself - my name is Michelle Wodchis-Johnson, and I’m currently also serving as the Vice-President of External Affairs at Western University’s Students Council (USC). I could go on and on about how truly grateful, excited, and honoured I am to be in both of these roles, but you can read more about my journey in my introductory blog post here


I’m looking forward to working with the entirety of our Steering Committee this year, and thrilled to be joined by Arya Razmjoo as Vice-President Finance, as well as Maya Hobbs, Vice-President Administration & Human Resources, to form OUSA’s 2024-2025 executive team. You can learn more about them in their introductory blog posts here, and stay tuned as we continue to introduce the rest of our lovely Steering Committee over the next several weeks. 


I would also like to thank OUSA’s outgoing Steering Committee on behalf of ours for all of their incredible work over the last year, and for doing everything possible to set us up for success as we take on our new roles within this organization. This would not be complete without a special thank you to my predecessor, Vivian Chiem, for her unwavering support and encouragement as I transition into this new position. We all have big shoes to fill, and I can only hope we make you proud!! 


June has been off to a great start so far. Following our Welcome Conference, where our Steering Committee first got the opportunity to meet each other and learn about OUSA’s work in late May, we then delved right into our annual Strategic Planning Conference. Here, we determined dates for our major conferences and events for the upcoming year, including our General Assemblies, Student Advocacy Conference, and the Partners in Higher Education Dinner. 


We also determined the following advocacy priorities, where, within a couple of them, we will dedicate specific attention to international students and impacts on mental health: 


OUSA’s Advocacy Priorities:

  1. Investing in Post-Secondary Education
  2. Food Insecurity
  3. Responses to Hate Motivated Attacks
  4. Housing


Additionally, we set our organizational priorities for the year which include:

  1. Improving our Policy & Advocacy Processes
  2. Steering Committee Outreach 
  3. Long-Term Planning

Myself and our executive director, Malika, also got the opportunity to consult with the Ministry of Colleges and Universities on the implementation of the recently passed Bill 166, Strengthening Accountability and Student Supports Act. We were able to offer feedback and recommendations on next steps, encouraging continued student and community consultation as the Bill comes into effect, as well as the importance of continuous and increased investments into post-secondary education. As my first lobbying opportunity in this role, I am so grateful to the Ministry for the invitation to offer a student perspective on such an important piece of legislation, and I am looking forward to continued conversations on both this Bill and other matters. 


On the Home Office front, our executive director just released an outstanding blog, discussing her experience with imposter syndrome since stepping into her role. Our Advocacy and Communications Intern, Bianca Giacoboni, has been working hard to put together an OUSA open house, which will involve some of our Steering Committee members discussing student financial aid in mid-August – more information on this to come, so stay tuned!! Finally, our Managers of Research and Policy have been working hard to publish our policy papers from this last year, all while working to prepare for work on our upcoming papers. 


All in all, a very productive month for OUSA and our Steering Committee as we work to prepare for the year ahead, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. 


Enjoy July, stay safe, and don’t forget to take in the Summer before it’s over! Chat soon.