January 15, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 58  

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OUSA’s new campaign — but what is OUSA?

By Laura Katsirdaiks
Gazette Staff

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance was in the University Community Centre yesterday, promoting the launch of their new campaign, Invest in Access, while admitting the need to promote themselves as well.

“Invest in Access targets student financial aid in Ontario,” said Adam Spence, executive director of OUSA, noting the campaign is aimed at students, parents, media and the government.

“The cost [of a university education] is greater than the amount of assistance [students] can receive,” Spence explained. “The average student living away from home pays $14,500 per year. The [maximum] amount of assistance they can receive is $13,000.

“The consequence can be crippling debt. The average university student in Ontario graduates with over $22,700 in debt,” he said, noting the impetus for the campaign also comes from the fact that more students are accessing food banks and taking out private loans.

The campaign will involve campus visits and lobbying, Spence said. “There are two parts to this campaign: we want to get students involved and we want them to be part of the process of change.”

“I don’t know how effective lobby groups can be,” said Faren Bogach, a third-year economics student, adding she spent a summer working for a lobby group and saw no accomplishments. Both Bogach and third-year administrative and commercial studies student Carley Scarr agreed they had never heard of OUSA.

“We do battle with this problem,” Spence admitted, when asked to comment on the fact that many undergraduate students do not know about OUSA.

Spence believes the campaign will be effective because it puts a face on the issue of student debt. “[As well], it is based on excellent statistics and research, [and will] lobby for change on the political and bureaucratic level.”

“[The campaign] emphasizes the fact that the tuition freeze doesn’t address all the issues of accessibility and affordability,” said Dave Ford, the University Students’ Council’s VP-education, adding tuition is only one-third of the cost of university, and the freeze does not deal with the other two-thirds.

“There are 10 years of neglect on the financial aid system [in Ontario],” Ford said, noting heightened awareness of this by both the public and the government is necessary.



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