Policies formed at OUSA meeting
Aboriginal student issues, international student needs, differentiation and university funding were all on the table last weekend, as student representatives came together for the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance’s General Assembly meeting.
Six student representatives from Wilfrid Laurier University, including Students’ Union president Annie Constantinescu and Stephen Franchetto, VP: university
affairs, attended the biannual meeting at Queen’s University from March 28-30.
“It was a really good experience just to see the different priorities from different universities, because some do have more engagement based on what the policy paper is about, and I think just being able to speak on behalf of Laurier was a really cool opportunity,” said Constantinescu.
There were three policy papers up for discussion this round. Franchetto, who is also the VP: finance for OUSA, said that topics addressed in the System Vision policy paper—including faculty compensation, differentiation and funding formulas—would be the most relevant to Laurier.
“It would literally hit every single student,” he said.
“These are all really cool topics, really big topics that can have a huge impact on how things happen in the sector.”
For the Aboriginal students policy paper, the focus was on providing support and conducting outreach. Franchetto co-authored the paper and was able to incorporate input from Laurier’s Aboriginal support groups on campus.
“Given Laurier’s Aboriginal population and the great supports that we do have, I think it’s going to be a really good building block there,” he acknowledged.
Laurier is one of seven member universities to OUSA—a small number out of the province’s total 22 universities. It acts as a lobbying organization on post-secondary issues for all university students in the province.
Many Ontario universities also hold membership with the Canadian Federation of Students, including Laurier’s Graduate Students’ Association.
“In the end, OUSA does provide a lot more value [than the Canadian Federation of Students] … and it’s definitely a very good membership or partnership we have with them,” Constantinescu said.
Franchetto added, “OUSA is probably the most effective lobby organization, especially at the provincial level, and in terms of getting a result. We’ve seen a ton of announcements recently and being a part of those discussions at the table, getting our priorities in there, really means that Laurier does punch above its weight when we talk about advocacy.”
According to Franchetto, OUSA is trying to expand its membership from the current “tight knit” member group.
Laurier representatives felt positively about the General Assembly overall.
Reflecting on her discussions with other presidents, Constantinescu said, “It’s just interesting to see that a lot of us deal with the same issues at all of our universities, but we’re all in tandem working toward the same goals, but in different ways.”
OUSA was first formed in 1992. Laurier became a member shortly after in 1995.