Queen's students to go to referendum on joining OUSA
By Dave Yasvinski
After withdrawing three years ago, Queen's University students will vote next week on whether or not they will rejoin the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance.
"Being non-aligned doesn't really produce results," said Milan Konopek, academic affairs commissioner for the Queen's Alma Mater Society. "Going alone, representing only 11,000 students, doesn't hold a lot of sway with politicians. Joining 120,000 students adds impetus to our voice and theirs," he added.
Konopek said in 1995, the executive director of OUSA was not forthcoming about their budget and financial records and Queen's students felt they had to pull out of the association. "It wasn't policy or philosophy but financial mismanagement which in our opinion has long since been rectified."
Konopek said he was unsure which way the referendum would go. When the question was initially brought to the assembly, there was a lot of indecision because of lack of information, but this is changing, he said.
"People have become swayed towards OUSA and alignment. Queen's can't do it alone. Hopefully, the rest of the student body will see it the same way."
Andrew Boggs, executive director of OUSA, said Queen's would make a valuable addition to the association's membership. "Queen's has been fairly effective in lobby efforts as a non-aligned school. It's an opportunity for us to have access to their information and them to have access to ours."
Boggs said the operational concerns which prompted Queen's to leave OUSA three years ago no longer exist. "I can say they have since been dealt with and entirely cleared up."
Although unsure which way the referendum would go, Boggs said he is confident heading to Kingston next week. "I'm confident if we do a good job of getting information to people, they will rejoin," he said.
A big reason for rejoining is how difficult it has become for an individual student council to deal with provincial issues alone, said Nick Iozzo, VP-education for Western's University Students' Council.
"The Tory government has changed [the Ontario Student Assistance Program] three times in the last nine months. You need a professional lobbyist just to keep up with the changes," he said.
"OUSA looks for objective goals and works with those who yield power," Iozzo added.
The referendum will be held on Nov. 11 and 12. A majority vote would make Queen's associate members of OUSA until next fall, when they would obtain full membership status.