My name is Shawn Cruz, and I am honoured to have the opportunity to be the Vice President: University Affairs for the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union. I recently completed my Bachelor of Arts at Laurier, primarily taking courses in Economics and Political Science, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to serve on OUSA’s Steering Committee this year.
My time at Laurier was instrumental in shaping the person I am today. This is in large part due to the rich student experience and wealth of exceptional classes that the school has to offer. Laurier’s recent commitments to experiential learning, particularly its programs that create opportunities for students to work with the municipality, made me feel like I was at home. I had the chance to participate in one such course during my time at Laurier, and it strengthened my appreciation for similar community-based learning opportunities.
I started volunteering with the Students’ Union in first year, where I earned practical experience to supplement my academics. After spending several years in other departments of the Students’ Union such as in the clubs administration department, volunteer hiring team, and in the walk-home service, I took the plunge and delved into the University Affairs department. There, I held the position of Associate Vice President: University Affairs and developed an appreciation for student advocacy. My portfolio was municipal-focused, with particular emphasis on supporting university-community collaboration, as well as working with local partners to reduce alcohol and substance-related harms. In my new role as Vice President: University Affairs, I have shifted my focus from municipal advocacy, to provincial.
For the upcoming year, I would like to advocate for better protections and services for international students, who enrich the education system and are valuable members of the community. The growing number of international students at Ontario institutions demonstrates a greater need for equitable resources for these students. At my home organization, I would also like to further demystify the advocacy process to the average student and encourage them to engage with our provincial advocacy.
I am looking forward to working with our partners at Laurier as well as our OUSA Steering Committee & Home Office members to advocate for conditions that will lead to an improved post-secondary education experience.