Conference orgasmic for policy nerds
By Dan Perry
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
"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
"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