October 21 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 28   

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NEWS

Conference orgasmic for policy nerds

By Dan Perry
Gazette Staff

While you were sleeping this weekend, your student fees were hard at work - more than 40 Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance minions descended on Western to discuss policy recommendations for the organization at its fall general assembly.

"A lot of the stuff we're looking at in this conference is surrounding access," said OUSA executive director Adam Spence. The discussion at the conference focused on tuition fees, international tuition fee concerns, student financial aid and pre-paid tuition plans.

"What's important about this weekend [is] having positions backed by facts and stats, not just rhetoric on a page - then you can have more constructive dialogue among the students and you're better able to articulate your position to government. Otherwise, [OUSA lobbying] is a faith-based system," Spence said. "Without doing these kinds of forums, we'd be doing a disservice to the represented students. In the past, [policy] statements were adhered to, but we need the information necessary to back them up."

Raveel Afzaal from the University of Waterloo Federation of Students attended the conference. As an international student from Pakistan, he said he came to discuss international student issues.

"In Pakistan, profs don't have the respect or the money that the professors have [in Canada]; and here, students still want to improve. It's inspiring. It's nice to see how people are motivated. And [OUSA] has very comprehensive policies - everything I thought about as an international student was covered," Afzaal said.

The conference also featured guest speakers on Saturday, including Alex Usher from the Educational Policy Institute and Windsor-St. Clair Liberal member of provincial parliament Dwight Duncan. Usher spoke about financial aid and low-income students and Duncan informed the delegates about the newly elected Liberal Party's platform.

"It was a success. We brought forward more policies than we historically had," said University Students' Council VP-education Dave Ford. "All these policies were created with the new Liberal government in mind. [OUSA] will take these policies to Queen's Park in November to lobby the Liberal government."

USC president Paul Yeoman, who has attended several OUSA conferences as a delegate in the past, called the policies reactive and proactive. "The Western delegates managed to choose a new policy direction. The policy sessions were great [and] the speakers were relevant. It's the best [OUSA] conference I've ever been to," he said.

-with files from Anton Vidgen

 

 

 

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