OUSA’s new campaign — but what is OUSA?
By Laura Katsirdaiks
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
“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.