And with November over, we have officially made it to the last month of 2020! November tends to be OUSA’s busiest month of the year, and even with a pandemic, this year was no exception.
This month began with the launch of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Survey (OUSS), which was distributed to students at our eight member associations in order to collect data and student perspectives on several key issues, including financial aid, online learning, employment, campus climate, and mental health. We received 5,704 responses from students across the province, and we look forward to analyzing this data and publishing a research report with our findings in 2021.
Between November 16 and 19, OUSA hosted our annual Student Advocacy Conference, where student leaders from our eight member institutions met with MPPs and stakeholders to share our priorities for the year. Though our advocacy conference typically takes place at Queen’s Park, this year we were still able to hold over 50 meetings via Zoom, sharing our priorities on student financial aid, mental health, racial equity, and quality online learning.
OUSA’s meeting with Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities, Ross Romano.
We’ve also continued to meet with students, university administration, and other stakeholders in a virtual capacity. This month we (virtually) visited Queen’s University and Wilfrid Laurier University to share our mission, goals, and priorities with university administration and student leaders. We also participated in the Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health’s (CICMH) conference, Bright Futures: Embracing Campus Wellness, where our Research and Policy Analyst Ryan Tishcoff presented a poster on OUSA’s student mental health advocacy. We met with other sector stakeholders as well, including OCUFA Executive Director, Jenny Ahn, and COU President, Steve Orsini.
OUSA is now in the process of publishing the policy papers we ratified at our Fall General Assembly. We recently released our policies on Responding to COVID-19 and A Comprehensive Access Strategy, and will release two more policies—Environmental Sustainability, and Housing, Transit, and Community Development—in the coming weeks.
As we wrap up 2020, we are getting ready for a new policy cycle and a new semester with OUSA. In the next few weeks, we will be conducting consultations and think tanks with students to prepare for our next policy cycle. We will be writing new policies on Student Health and Wellness, Racial and Religious Equity, and Indigenous Students. Our student authors will begin working on the policies in the new year.
Finally, I wanted to wish everyone well as we approach exam season and the end of the semester. This semester has been met with many challenges as we navigate online and remote learning, but I continue to admire the perseverance and commitment of students as we adapt to this new environment. As we enter exam season, be sure to take lots of study breaks, keep a routine, and check in on your friends and peers during this stressful time. Students can access many resources for mental health and well-being and online learning.
Best of luck and see you in the new year!