Queen's just says no to OUSA
By Mark Brown
Students at Queen's University appear to be content to go it alone after voting down a question to join the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance in a referendum on Wednesday.
The question was narrowly defeated with 50 per cent of students voting against and 45 per cent voting in favour of the question while five per cent of students spoiled their ballots, said Ted Stanley, president of Queen's Alma Mater Society.
While Stanley was in favour of joining OUSA, a provincial student lobby group, he said he was not completely confident the students would support it. "There is a strong feeling [with students] that Queen's could go it alone."
Some of the reasons why students did not support the AMS's push to join OUSA could have been the indecision displayed by the council, the mandatory fee of $1.95 per student, misinformation about OUSA and the attitude that 11,000 students can represent themselves, Stanley explained.
"I don't think we can go it alone," Stanley said. He added lobbying alone puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the AMS.
"I had a feeling it was going to be close," said Andrew Boggs, executive director of OUSA. Some students at Queen's were concerned OUSA would not be able to represent the different faculties equally which is not the case, Boggs explained. "We were not successful at getting that point across."
Queen's pulled out of OUSA in 1995 because of the way the organization was being handled at the time, Boggs said. Currently, the AMS is not aligned with any lobby group.
Milan Konopek, academic affairs commissioner for the AMS, was also disappointed with the outcome of the referendum. "The whole issue of alignment has been debated at Queen's since we pulled out of OUSA."
Konopek said he was encouraged by the strong support from the residences which indicates first-year students support alignment with a lobby group.
While Queen's did not support OUSA, the AMS has no intention of turning to the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario as an alternative, Konopek said. "I wouldn't consider them a viable option."
Nick Iozzo, VP-education for Western's University Students' Council, was also upset by the outcome of the referendum at Queen's. Iozzo was at Queen's earlier this week to answer questions as a representative for Western, who is a member of OUSA. "When we left the meeting it seemed that the questions were answered and appeased."
Iozzo added Western will continue to work with Queen's but it would have been good if there was a formal link.