New focus on policy

The Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union is taking measures to ensure that WLU students are being governed fairly and equivalently to other learning institutions.

A new full time position has been created, the focus of which will be undertaking research into policies of the university, municipality and provincial and federal governments in order to determine how they affect the students’ best interests.

Part of the reason WLUSU felt the need for the new position were the results of last year’s extensive market research project which made visible students’ concerns on a lack of advocacy efforts on the part of the union.

WLUSU president Kyle Walker attributes this perception to the fact that they are simply not communicating these efforts well enough.

The students’ union is currently a member of two strong lobby organizations, for which students pay significant fees, he said.

The creation of this new position, among other things, will maximize the benefits received from these memberships.

Chris Hyde has been hired as the university’s inaugural policy researcher and advocacy coordinator.

Hyde brings several years worth of relevant experience to the position, most recently as deputy director of research and capacity at a think tank in Ottawa where he advocated on behalf of all Canadians.

This, coupled with Hyde being identified as a candidate who could work very well with the students’ union, made him an ideal selection for the position.
“Chris obviously [fit in with the union], he stood out from anyone. We are so lucky we got him,” Walker said.

Hyde recognizes the transition that has to be made from representing a vast number of diverse individuals to a more condensed group consisting entirely of students.

“Now my clients, my stakeholders, my focus are the students of Wilfrid Laurier,” Hyde said. “I think it’s a tremendous opportunity; I can use skills I used in B.C., Alberta and Ottawa to a micro level and make it work well here.”
In addition to research into how various university and governmental policies affect WLU students, a key aspect of the position includes how the policies compare to those of other universities in the region and nation-wide.

Through benchmarking statistics, such as institutions’ average ancillary fees, WLUSU will be able to identify discrepancies between this university and others and work to advocate policies to eradicate them.

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