VP Education Reflects on Waterloo OUSA General Assembly

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Matthew Gerrits
Vice President Education
Tue, 03/26/2019 - 12:45

Guest blog from Vice President Education Matthew Gerrits. Photo credit: OUSA.

At the beginning of this month, I was proud to partner with the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance [external link] to hold their spring general assembly here at the University of Waterloo. It was a great honour to invite undergraduate students from across the province and my fellow OUSA Steering Committee colleagues from the other seven OUSA schools.

A general assembly (GA) is an inspiring experience. OUSA’s advocacy is based on policy, and OUSA’s policies are approved by delegates from each member school; for Waterloo, that means putting policies in front of ordinary students. It's always amazing to see the comments that our first time delegates bring to the policy discussion.  

This was not an ordinary OUSA GA for me; beyond the fact that we hosted the assembly, this was my fifth GA. Two and a half years ago, I was a new student councillor when I first heard the word OUSA. Feds was looking for students to apply to go to a GA, and of their three papers, one was Rural & Northern students. I am a rural student, and I thought I might be able to lend a voice to that paper. Little did I know that I would soon be hooked.

At that GA at Western, I met what were then towering people to me, seemingly impossibly well-informed and revered students who were speaking to policy recommendations. But even from the first day of GA to the second, I found that I grew to know the lingo, and felt more confident contributing. And now, after Western, Laurier, Laurentian, McMaster and Waterloo GAs, inspired by OUSA’s advocacy work, I am now Vice President Education of Feds and a Steering Committee member of OUSA.

I’ve had a chance to meet so many amazing people, within Feds and from schools across Ontario. I’ve had a chance to explore most of OUSA’s policy library, including policy on issues affecting Indigenous students and ancillary fees, and have now written OUSA policies on Student Financial Aid and on Tuition.

But when I started, I had none of that in mind when I wanted to just lend my voice on a single paper I was passionate about. Even just from one General Assembly, I had the chance to have my voice heard.

It's been an amazing opportunity to be involved in this organization and to write and critique policy that OUSA will lobby on to make Ontario a better place for students. I hope that many more will apply to do the same.