Local Advocacy Week Brings Light to London Issues

Local Advocacy Week is in full swing, with the USC’s advocacy team canvasing the city to meet with municipal, provincial, and federal leaders about local issues that matter to Western students. Over the course of the week, the USC Executive and undergraduate representatives will meet with 15 Councillors, MPPs, and MPs to discuss four key advocacy priorities, including transit, job opportunities, student neighbourhoods and safety, and vibrant communities.

USC Vice President Danny Chang’s portfolio leads this effort, in close collaboration with Council’s Advocacy Standing Committee. Local Advocacy Week is the USC’s annual flagship lobbying effort at the municipal level and the primary opportunity to focus on local issues. This effort compliments similar lobbying weeks at the provincial and federal level in collaboration with the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) and the Undergraduates of Canadian Research-Intensive Universities (UCRU).

 Vice President Chang and USC President Mitch Pratt have already attended ten meetings, with five more to come by the end of the week. At least one current undergraduate student also attends each meeting and participates in the discussion and lobbying. “We think it’s critical to include students in these conversations as they can speak to the direct impact these issues have on their lives as post-secondary students living in London,” said Chang, “Students are the at the heart of our organization and we always strive to provide opportunities to directly engage them in the work we constantly do on their behalf.”

 While the USC advocates with all levels of government throughout the year, Local Advocacy Week presents a dedicated opportunity to talk about purely local issues. Chang emphasized that positive town and gown relations benefit all parties – the city, the university, and students. “A strong partnership between the municipality and the university is the cornerstone of vibrant cities. A collaborative working relationship helps to enhance the attractiveness of the city, improve students’ quality of life, and build a sustainable community within the city.”

The four themes of this year’s Local Advocacy Week are highlighted below:

  • Transit

    Western and Fanshawe College account for over 11 million LTC rides per year, providing roughly half of all LTC trips. Given the student body’s extensive use of the transit system, the student voice should be considered when planning transit development.

  • Job Opportunities

    Over half of Western students without a job last summer would have preferred to work, but could not find employment. Coupled with nearly 84% of students anticipating burdensome debt after graduation, the need for student-supporting local economic development is clear. Without growing London’s economic scene, talented graduates will leave London for employment elsewhere.

  • Student Neighbourhoods & Safety

    Students are often living independently for the first time. Difficulties created by the novel living arrangements are compounded by student concerns about safety and comfort. Creating supportive, resource-rich neighbourhoods is crucial for high-quality student living.

  • Vibrant Communities

    The downtown core is an integral part of London. Improving the student connection to this part of the city benefits students’ experience in London and expands the downtown culture, activity, and economy.

Local politicians participating in this year’s Local Advocacy Week include: Councillor Anna Hopkins, Councillor Arielle Kayabaga, Councillor Elizabeth Peloza, Councillor Jesse Helmer, Councillor Josh Morgan, Councillor Maureen Cassidy, Councillor Phil Squire, Councillor Steve Hillier, Councillor Steve Lehman, MPP Jeff Yurek, MPP Peggy Sattler, MPP Terence Kernaghan, MP Irene Mathyssen, MP Karen Vecchio, and MP Peter Fragiskatos.

Students interested in these providing their input on these issues are encouraged to complete the USC’s Local Advocacy Week survey or contact vicepresident@westernusc.ca. Survey respondents have a chance to win a USC Rewards Card, click here for more information!