Being elected as a Western delegate to attend the 2019 Winter OUSA General Assembly for the first (and last) time was an absolute honour. Besides being able to meet new people and work alongside equally-passionate, like-minded peers, having the opportunity to actually put our advocacy work into practice and develop effective, strong policy on issues critical to and for students helped legitimize to me the importance of student government.
The three policies chosen to be published this GA were LGBTQ+ Students, Financial Aid, and Student Employment and Entrepreneurship, three topical areas that are facing increasing difficulties in today’s political climate. The potential erasure of LGBTQ+ voices and student groups, OSAP grants and independent student statuses, and the lack of meaningful student employment opportunities during and post-graduation in the era of the Student Choice Initiative enhanced the sense of urgency of publishing strong policies on these areas for our OUSA Steering Committee to lobby the provincial government with. From months of consultation and research with students (in particular the amazing work of our own student organizations at Western: PrideWestern, Allyship Network, and Spectrum, to three full days of debate and breakout sessions, working collaboratively with other diverse voices of different student organizations, the OUSA body was able to pass these policies and, for me, doing so is a sign of true political collaboration in spite of our differences.
I’m going to be honest. The OUSA GA was not easy. Trying to negotiate along with other student organizations, some of which you may find it hard to establish common ground with, is challenging. However, being able to pass these papers indicates to me that “working across the aisle” is an actually attainable goal. Unlike what we are told by the government, student unions are not all the same. But what is the same is our passion for our students in trying to make their voices and their concerns heard. I think that we did that this weekend and I think that the continued work of OUSA is necessary and critical in ensuring that the student voice is not forgotten.
If you are passionate about equitable opportunities for all students and ensuring that the voices of those most marginalized are not lost in the fray, student politics is meant for you and I encourage you to take a chance and run for an OUSA delegate position. Thank you to those who inspired me to run for this position and to those reading this blog, I hope that it inspires you too. Please do not hesitate to contact me about the delegate selection process, OUSA, or student politics at Western in general. I’m more than happy to meet with you and answer any questions you have if it means that one more person has become politically engaged.
— Chris Anthony, Kings Councillor, Political Science Student
Click here for the full OUSA General Assembly recap.