OUSA holds its bi-annual general conference, discussing new and renewing policies that affect students

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Graphic by Kash Patel

Over the weekend, from Nov. 2 to 4, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) held their bi-annual general assembly conference at McMaster University.

Wilfrid Laurier University was in attendance, alongside seven other member universities of OUSA, to discuss new and renewing policies.

Laurier’s representation at this conference was six delegates; a number that proportionally represents the total population of students enrolled at both Waterloo and Brantford campuses.

“It’s an opportunity for all members of the different institutions that are a part of OUSA to give their input on policies that we’re renewing,” said Shannon Kelly, OUSA’s vice president of finance.

“I’m on what we call a steering committee of OUSA, which is basically the board of directors,” Kelly said.

One of the primary missions of these conferences is communication and collaboration between the eight member schools of OUSA.

The representatives present are committed to lobbying students’ needs in the most accurate and effective way possible, by sharing critiques and creating dialogue for changes and additions to policy proposals.

Upon the success of this conference, OUSA will now go forward and begin lobbying to the provincial government for their policies and their immediate implementation.

“My role was to facilitate ‘break-out sessions,’ where members from different delegations will critique the papers in order to improve it, so we’re best reflecting the needs of students in the policies that we have.”

“The three topics that were on the ballot to renew were teaching and assessment, technology and abled learning as well as tuition,” Kelly said.

“We also decide what policies we will be renewing during the next general assembly.”

“Typically, steering committee members will offer a paper … I offered the technology and abled learning paper,” she said.

“In particular, there was a section on teaching and learning quality which we focused on effective methods of pedagogy, evaluations of teaching, as well as faculty renewal strategies we felt best served students,” Kelly said.

“A huge area that we talked about as well was something called high impact learning.”

“This also included focusing on co-curricular records and allowing students to articulate the skills they learned through those experiential learning methods and to ensure they’re getting the highest quality education ”

“We also talked a little bit about inclusive learning … this included different ways of testing students and student assessments because, as we know, sometimes multiple choice isn’t the best testing method for a lot of students, but sometimes for certain disciplines that’s the best way to do it,” Kelly added.

OUSA delegates also posed concerns about sensitivity training for faculty members “to best serve students and ensure that they feel safe and comfortable in their classrooms.”

Upon the success of this conference, OUSA will now go forward and begin lobbying to the provincial government for their policies and their immediate implementation.

“We are doing what we call our lobby conference that we do every year next week, where we have our priorities and take them to our various MPP’s at Parliament Hill,” Kelly concluded.

OUSA has scheduled meetings with several policy-makers and representatives from the provincial government for next week in order to present these new and renewed policies and move forward with their enactment.

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