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March Communique

Hello!

We hope you’re staying healthy and happy. It’s been a challenging month for everyone, including OUSA. While navigating uncertain times, we’ve been working from home to advocate for students and respond to government announcements as they come in. Visit ousa.ca/covid19 to learn more about how OUSA and our member institutions are responding. 

We also made the tough decision to suspend our Spring General Assembly and postpone our annual Partners in Higher Education Dinner, which had been scheduled for April 9th, 2020. Although we are saddened to postpone these events, we want to prioritize the health of our attendees and encourage social distancing as recommended by public health officials.

 

Presidential Update:

As we adjust to our new reality, there will be more challenges. We do not know how long this will last, and we will need to reflect on how universities can continue to provide a high quality education through online learning over the summer and potentially into the fall. This requires a drastic shift in delivery and pedagogy - and one that we hope to support.

Read Cat's March Presidential Update >

In It Together 2020: Foundations for Promoting Mental Wellness in Campus Communities

 In this joint report, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, the College Student Alliance, the Council of Ontario Universities, and Colleges Ontario make joint recommendations to the provincial government aimed at improving student mental health in post-secondary communities across the province. 

Read it here.

OUSA’s General Assembly Postponed

After spending the last few months preparing for our General Assembly, which had been scheduled to take place at Western University from March 13-15, we were forced to cancel the conference amid COVID-19 concerns. Instead, we will be hosting a series of video conferences where delegates from each of our member institutions can collaborate and provide feedback on our draft policies. Delegates will then vote on whether to pass these policies at a virtual General Assembly in late April. 

Read the full statement here.

 

OUSA Calls On Provincial and Federal Governments to Provide Student Debt Relief amid Covid-19 Pandemic

 In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, OUSA wrote letters calling on the provincial and federal governments to implement an immediate grace period on student loan payments to ensure post-secondary graduates with student debt would be able to meet their financial obligations during and after the COVID-19 public health crisis. 

These letters, written in collaboration with the College Student Alliance (CSA), can be found here:  Provincial letter & Federal letter 

OUSA was pleased to hear that on March 18th,  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government would be implementing a six-month, interest-free moratorium on Canada Student Loans as part of the country’s economic stimulus package in light of COVID-19. Read our full response here.

On March 25th, the Honorable Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, presented Ontario’s COVID-19 Action Plan and an Economic and Fiscal Update. OUSA is thankful that the Action Plan included the implementation of a six-month, interest-free moratorium on the provincial portion of Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan payments in light of COVID-19. Read our full response here.

 

Student Voices on Sexual Violence Survey

At the end of February, the full results from the 2018 Student Voices on Sexual Violence (SVSV) survey were released, including responses from over 160,000 post-secondary students. OUSA is hopeful that the provincial government recognizes the severity of this issue and will use this opportunity to invest significantly in gender-based violence prevention and response at post-secondary campuses across Ontario. Read our full response here.

 

Being (the Only) Trans in the Classroom – and What You (a Cis Ally) Can Do About It

“When it comes to being an ally to trans folks, there are really three simple points to remember: allyship is a verb, and a practice you constantly engage in; be respectful; and be open to educating yourself and learning from others.”

Nathan Barnett from Trent Durham University GTA dives into being (the only) trans in the classroom and what cisgender allies can do to help. Read it here.

 

In It Together: Addressing the Student Mental Health Crisis

OUSA Research and Policy Analyst, Ryan, talks about addressing the student mental health crisis and our new In It Together report.

The report pushes for a ‘whole-of-community’ approach, where government, universities, students, and community healthcare providers all do their part to support student mental health. From a young age, students need to be given tools that help them manage stress and anxiety. They need somewhere to turn as they navigate the transitions from high school to university and into the workforce. They need peer-to-peer support services so they can connect with students who have gone through what they’re going through.” Read the full post here.

 

Diversity: It is Not Just about Race

Our latest blog features Maham Rehman from Western University, who talks about how we can foster and promote intellectual diversity in student associations so that they can support the students they represent. Read it here.