OUSA: “BUSU’s single most important investment”
Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 10:10
Most students have at some point during their time in university expressed concern surrounding their OSAP funding, the increasing cost of tuition, a bad professor or a number of other education related issues. Most students, however, are probably unaware that an organization exists to voice these concerns directly to the provincial government.
Founded in 1995, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is a provincial lobbying organization that represents over 150,000 students from nine different student associations across the province. Their mission is to make post-secondary education in Ontario more accessible, affordable and accountable for all undergraduate students. Entirely through direct feedback and input from students themselves, OUSA formulates policy regarding a wide range of pressing education related issues and brings that student voice to the people with the power.
“OUSA is the most direct avenue for Brock students to speak to the government. OUSA’s research and policies are so well respected by the government that we have a direct line of communication with the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities as well as all major stakeholders,” said Steven Nicholls, Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) Vice-President, University Affairs.
BUSU was one of the founding members of OUSA back in the 90’s and has been a part of the organization ever since. This membership means that the students of Brock University have a say in the policies that OUSA brings to the government.
One of OUSA’s guiding principles is that the organization is entirely member-driven, meaning all policies and decisions made by OUSA are made by students.
OUSA’s highest governing body is its General Assembly. Two General Assemblies are held each year and student representatives from all member schools attend to discuss, amend and ultimately approve the policy which OUSA will advocate.
The General Assembly is not exclusive to student union executives and staff. In fact, most of the delegates who attend are regular students interested in bringing the concerns of their fellow students to the table.
“OUSA truly is an organization of students, by students and for students. I have been fortunate enough to be a part of the Brock delegation for two OUSA general assemblies and every time it is always a great exercise in democracy. The policy papers that are approved at the end of the assembly are the final product of hours of deliberation and discussion amongst students representing diverse interests and backgrounds from all across the province,” said one delegate from Brock.
OUSA is a far cry from a whining voice ignored by government. The organization is highly respected by the provincial government and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. Many of OUSA’s lobbying priorities have led to substantial changes for students in the province. For example, OUSA played a major role in the creation of the Ontario Tuition Grant which was introduced in January 2012. In 2010, they advocated for a number of changes dealing with student financial assistance including the doubling of exemptible income earned during the school year, a seven per cent increase in the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) maximum along with the creation of the Repayment Assistance Plan to help cap and manage student debt.
With this in mind, it is no wonder Nicholls calls OUSA “BUSU’s single most important investment.”
For more information on OUSA check out their website at ousa.ca or contact BUSU Vice-President, University Affairs Steven Nicholls at firstname.lastname@example.org.