Spring is in the air - the birds are chirping, the flowers are pushing through the frozen grounds, and kinder temperatures are on their way! With that, OUSA, too, gave an early welcome to spring and held its 57th General Assembly (GA) on the beautiful campus of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. GA, which is a weekend-long policy formulation conference (or a policy party, haha!), brought together delegates from OUSA’s eight member schools to discuss and approve student-written policy papers. We were also thrilled to have observer delegates from the Ontario Tech Student Union physically join us (as opposed to seeing their lovely faces on a screen throughout the weekend). This time around, all delegations joined in-person for the first time since October, and yes, we celebrated this with warm hugs, loads of laughter, and immaculate vibes.
At the Spring 2023 GA, delegates came together to discuss, debate, and improve three student-written policy papers:
- Teaching and Assessment
- Student Accessibility and Disability Inclusion
- Two Spirit and LGBTQIA+ Students
We kicked things off with two full days of debates and deliberations in the breakout rooms. The delegates, armed with their Google docs (and coffee), had a chance to review the policy papers, offer advice, ask questions, and suggest policy changes. Later in the day, the authorship teams worked hard to incorporate the feedback they received during the day. We had some long work nights, but coffee, good food, and our determination to make a difference helped us power through and make the policy papers stronger than ever. The second day followed the same format, and the paper was prepared for the final debate and voting during the Plenary session.
Alongside working on the policy papers, all the delegates attended a workshop to unsettle OUSA and ground policies in Indigenous principles.
OUSA is equal parts work and equal parts fun; after some long work sessions, the delegates got to let loose, network, and connect. We went to an ice-hockey game (a first-time experience for some of us), and, despite Kingston’s loss, we admired the electric atmosphere of the stadium and enjoyed eating some glizzies (a cooler word for hot dogs!). The delegates also got to channel their inner competitive spirits at the arcade.
After all the buzzin' and revisions, it was time for the final showdown. All the delegates were pumped for the plenary and were ready to have a final round of debate. Even though we had a long plenary, two papers - Teaching and Assessment and Student Accessibility and Disability Inclusion were passed (Wohooooo) at the in-person plenary, and the third paper, Two Spirit and LGBTQIA+ Students, was passed during the virtual plenary (also woohoo) on March 24th, 2023. There’s nothing like the feeling of passing a policy paper at GA, knowing that it can shape the future of post-secondary education in Ontario. It is indeed a proud moment for the authors and the delegates alike.
After a long, productive weekend, we said our goodbyes and headed our separate ways. Sadly, this was the last GA for OUSA’s rockstar Ops and Comms Coordinator, Irum, whom we will all miss immensely and remember fondly.
A massive shoutout to the team at Queen’s University who helped plan and run the conference smoothly! And that’s a wrap, folks! Until next time :)