Hey Badgers, it’s Alyssa, BUSU Vice-President, External Affairs! I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe that we are already at the end of semester one and that winter break is just around the corner. Time really does fly when you’re having fun (apologies in advance for the cliches sprinkled throughout this post).
This has been a whirlwind of a semester for me as I look back on all of the work that I have done; it feels like just yesterday that I saw all of your smiling faces returning to campus after the summer break (authors note: a highlight of my year was seeing how much fun everyone was having at BadgerFest).
Although I’ve done a lot on campus this semester, the bulk of my job and advocacy work happens outside of the university and in collaboration with the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) and the student leaders from its nine member schools who, alongside myself, make up OUSA’s Steering Committee (SC).
This semester, I have been working with my fellow SC members on a number of projects related to improving the accessibility, affordability, attainability, quality, and safety of post-secondary education in Ontario.
We started off the advocacy year at Strat Con, where we decided what our advocacy priorities for the year would be, and what policy papers we would be authoring (spoiler alert! This year I am authoring the Student Health and Wellness paper and the Gender-based Sexual Violence Prevention and Response paper).
Then, after spending the entirety of Strat Con together, SC took the advocacy priorities and policy directives back to our home institutions to start working on these so they would be ready in time for when we got back together again for OUSA General Assembly (GA).
Although BadgerFest is a favourite on-campus memory of mine this year, I really love OUSA GA! This is where I get to bring Brock students with me to meet other students from universities across Ontario. GA is also where students get the power to decide the direction of the OUSA policy papers up for debate. However, I think the main reason I love GA so much is because I get to see the Brock students who come with me shine; I see their interest and passion for student advocacy come through and it makes me proud to see how committed they are to improving the post-secondary experience of their peers!
One thing to note about GA is that it is a long weekend full of breakout rooms and author re-writes, which typically ends in a 14-hour plenary, where the authors (finally) get to celebrate all of their hard work that led to the passing of their policy paper and the adoption of this paper into OUSA’s policy library. This may not sound like a big deal but believe me… it is because once a paper is in OUSA’s policy library, the values and recommendations housed within it help to guide the amazing advocacy work that this organization does.
OUSA GA ends with me, once again, saying goodbye to SC, but our time apart doesn’t last long as we still have OUSA’s Student Advocacy Conference (aka Lobby Week) to look forward to!
Lobby week is where SC, along with another representative from their home institution, takes on Queens Park. Throughout this week, I got the opportunity to meet with several government Ministers, Parliamentary Assistants, and MPPs to discuss the advocacy priorities that were decided at Strat Con. This year, our priorities revolved around housing and transit, sector sustainability, food insecurity, and mental health. These were chosen by SC as the priorities for lobby week as they are pervasive issues impacting students in many different ways across all of our campuses.
Although this is only a Sparks Notes version of all the OUSA and advocacy work that I have been doing this past semester, I am looking forward to seeing how the rest of my year goes!
That’s all for now Badgers! Happy Holidays and I will see you all next semester!
Till then, Alyssa