My name is Catherine Dunne, and I’m the Vice President of Western University’s Students’ Council this year, as well as the incoming President of OUSA. I also recently graduated with an Honours Specialization in Political Science, with a concentration in International Human Rights. This program helped me to see the value of an undergraduate degree to develop key skills in critical thinking, an in-depth understanding of our political system, and develop research skills.
I am so excited to get working for students this upcoming year with our partners in higher education to make gains towards a more accessible, affordable, accountable and high quality post-secondary sector. Throughout my various university experiences from working in student government to Residence Don to being an everyday student, I have witnessed the diverse experiences of our students, and how we must continue to work to reflect their experiences into our post-secondary landscape in order to shape our goal. It is the concerns of students I learned as a peer that have framed my passion and commitment to student advocacy.
I first got involved with OUSA as a delegate in my third year of university. At the time, we were working together to develop our policies on the topics of accountability, system vision and Indigenous Students. Here I witnessed the passion that drives our organization to develop evidence-based recommendations to make a fundamental difference in the lives of post-secondary students and improve the university experience.
Last summer, I was fortunate to work as the Advocacy and Communications Intern at OUSA to further my commitment to student advocacy. I helped get out the student vote and increase students’ understanding of how to get to the polls. I also got to learn best practices for government relations, and public policy writing. Now that I am an elected member myself I can’t wait to present the concerns our students care about to our partners in government and higher ed and continue the great work of previous steering committees. Additionally, I am looking forward to working with my fellow steering committee members to piece together the common and distinct concerns of our students to ensure we can best represent the Ontario post-secondary landscape.
At this moment in the post-secondary sector, it is essential our organization revisits what fundamentally encompasses our vision for a strong system. With broad changes to universities, this can be a catalyst for us to re-imagine what a best-practice post-secondary landscape might look like, and how we can work with government and other stakeholders to achieve a system that accomplishes our goals of being more affordable, accessible, accountable and high quality.
When I’m not going down a rabbit hole of best practices in #pse, I enjoy running and going on hikes, trying new recipes, and ranting about getting more women in leadership positions.
Until next time,