Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance
|Formation||Formed 1992, Incorporated 1995|
|Jamie Cleary (USC)|
|Kraymr Grenke (SGA-AGÉ)|
VP Admin & HR
|Julia Wood (BUSU)|
|Carolyn Thompson (AMS)
Leah Brockie (AMS)
Sarah Wiley (Feds)
Blake Oliver (MSU)
Kayla Smith (TDSA)
Colin Aitchison (WLUSU)
The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is an alliance of students' unions in Ontario, Canada. Their common objective is to protect the interests of over 140,000 professional and undergraduate, full-time and part-time university students, and to provide research and recommendations to the government on how to improve accessibility, affordability, accountability, and quality of post-secondary education in Ontario.
OUSA has 3 main bodies: General Assembly, Steering Committee, and the Executive. OUSA's General Assembly meets on a semi-annual basis, rotating between member campuses. Each member association is allocated delegates based on proportional representation of about 1 delegate per 3,000 students. The General Assembly sets the macro direction of the organization, and approves all of its policies. The Steering Committee consists of 1 representative from each member association, and meets on a monthly or semi-monthly basis. Each member association designates who will be its representative on the Steering Committee, usually the Vice President in charge of Advocacy (University Affairs, Education, External etc.) or President of the association. From the Steering Committee, a 3-person executive is elected to be President, VP Administration and Human Resources, and VP Finance. The executive drive the day-to-day operations of OUSA, are in charge of all financials, messaging, and advocacy, while managing the full-time support staff.
The initial catalyst for the creation of OUSA was disagreement over the position of the provincial and national student association in Ontario on the first Gulf War. In 1992, The student associations of Brock University, Queen's University, the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, and the Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students at the University of Toronto approached the Ontario Federation of Students(OFS) to host a roundtable discussing the prospect of pushing for an increase in tuition fees. When this idea was rejected, the roundtable occurred informally and resulted in the formal incorporation and creation of OUSA.
Part-time students at the University of Toronto withdrew from the Alliance, as did Queen's Alma Mater Society, citing concerns over the organization's management in the mid-1990s. Queen's then rejoined the Alliance as an associate member in 2001 and then as a full member in 2004. As of May 2011, OUSA welcomed two new members, the Trent in Oshawa Student Association as associate members, and the McMaster Association of Part-Time Students as full members, who have rejoined after a 7-year absence. As of May 2013, the University of Windsor Students' Alliance voted through a referendum to leave the Alliance. On April 29, 2014, the McMaster Association of Part-Time Students withdrew from membership in OUSA.
Each member institution is provided with one voting member on OUSA's Board of Directors, branded the Steering Committee. Queen's University is provided with a second resource member who is non voting.
They are responsible for the overall strategy of the organization.
The current steering committee consists of the following student executives from the respective student unions:
Alma Mater Society of Queen's University (AMS) - Carolyn Thompson, Vice President (University Affairs) (Voting)
Alma Mater Society of Queen's University (AMS) - Leah Brockie, Academic Affairs Commissioner (Resource, Non-Voting)
Brock University Students' Union (BUSU) - Julia Wood, Vice President Education (Voting)
University of Waterloo Federation of Students (Feds) - Sarah Wiley, Vice President Education (Voting)
McMaster Students' Union (MSU) - Blake Oliver, Vice President Education (Voting)
Laurentian Students' General Association (SGA-AGÉ) - Kraymr Grenke, President & CEO (Voting)
Trent Durham Student Association (TDSA) - Kayla Smith, Vice President University Affairs (Voting)
Western University Students' Council (USC) - Jamie Cleary, Vice President (Voting)
Wilfrid Laurier University Students' Union (WLUSU) - Colin Aitchison, Vice President: University Affairs (Voting)
OUSA was met with early success shortly after its incorporation in 1995, when its advocacy was responsible for the creation of the Ancillary Fee Protocol with government led by New Democratic Party of Ontario with Bob Rae as its leader. This protocol meant increases in ancillary fees must be subject to a referendum, and ended the practise of universities of raising ancillary fees to circumvent the tuition fee controls set by the government. OUSA was less successful dealing with the right-wing Progressive Conservative government of Mike Harris, which cut funding to universities and significantly raised tuition fee levels at Ontario universities, including a highly controversial "deregulation" of tuition in many professional and graduate programs. Despite dealing with an antagonistic government, OUSA was able to persuade the government to establish the Ontario Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, a permanent advisory board including student and university representation in 1998, and notable improvements to provincial student financial aid (1999, 2000). Over this period, OUSA also brought together the various stake holding groups (including competing student groups, faculty, staff and alumni organizations) in the university sector for the first time. Chaired by then-Executive Director Andrew Boggs, this coalition worked on issues of common interest, including election campaigns and information sharing.
OUSA claimed credit for the four-year freeze in 'real' tuition fee levels announced by then-Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Dianne Cunningham in 2001, along with other provincial higher education advocacy groups. OUSA has had more success dealing with the Liberal government led by Dalton McGuinty, and, with the guidance of then-Executive Director Adam Spence, is credited with a number of the policy proposals included in a report on post-secondary education written by former-premier Bob Rae], particularly his call for grants for low-income students.
Beginning in 1998, under the guidance of Executive Director Andrew Boggs, OUSA began increasing its cooperation with other provincial groups to build the profile of higher education in the Ontario general election. These activities continued under Executive Director Scott Courtice, when in 2005 OUSA and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations lobbied the Federal government and the Council of the Federation. This cooperation resulted in several joint initiatives, including media events and government submissions.
OUSA's recent advocacy successes include: securing $74 million in government funds over five years in 2011 to develop a new credit transfer system that makes it easier for students to transfer between institutions, $310 million in additional funding for 20,000 new post-secondary spaces in 2010, $81 million in student financial assistance improvements in 2010, including: six-month interest-free grace period before loan repayment begins, doubling of exemption for income earned during school, 7% increase in OSAP loan maximum, implementation of Repayment Assistance Plan to cap and manage student debt, tying the OSAP maximum assessment for textbook and supply costs to the rate of inflation, successfully lobbied for $150 million investment in university infrastructure in 2009.
OUSA significantly influenced the 2016 Ontario budget, which contained several recommendations that had been raised through OUSA's advocacy efforts of prior years. In particular, OUSA had lobbied to enact the changes that were announced relating to student financial assistance programs, such as the reallocation of tax credit money towards up-front grants, the simplification and amalgamation of grant programs, and the expansion of eligibility criteria for grant programs.
Due to its moderate leanings when compared with other student advocacy groups and close working relationship with many decision makers, OUSA has faced criticism that they are too cooperative with the government. OUSA has also received criticism for a mid 1990s proposal that asked for increased government spending towards universities along with increased tuition fees, however this recommendation was reversed a few years later, and OUSA has called for tuition freezes and decreases since at least 1999.
OUSA publishes an annual magazine titled Educated Solutions, which features articles from students, faculty, administration, civil servants, alumni, and other sector stakeholders. It is distributed on all of its member campuses, as well as sent to government officials and partners.Link to most recent edition Additionally, it publishes six policy papers a year, in addition to a budget submission every January and several research papers throughout the year.
Major Policy Areas
OUSA is known for its comprehensive analysis and lobbying related to student financial assistance. It has public, standing policy on the following topics:
- Aboriginal Students
- Ancillary Fees
- Broader Learning Environment
- International Students
- LGBTQ+ Students
- Mature Students
- Mobility and Credit Transfer
- Online Learning
- Public-Private Partnerships
- Response to Sexual Violence
- Rural and Northern Students
- Student Employment
- Student Financial Assistance
- Student Health and Wellness
- Students with Disabilities
- System Vision
- Teaching and Assessments
- University Accountability
OUSA hosts several conferences throughout the year. General timelines are as follows:
- May: Transition Conference
- July: Strategic Planning Conference
- September: Campus Visits & Volunteer Training
- October: Fall General Assembly
- November: Student Advocacy Conference
- February: Spring General Assembly
- March: Partners in Higher Education Dinner
Presidents and Executive Directors
- 1998 - 1999 Kenzie Campbell
- 1999 - 2000 Basil Alexander
- 2000 - 2001 Mark Schaan
- 2001 - 2002 Erin McCloskey
- 2002 - 2003 Josh Morgan
- 2003 - 2004 Jeff LaPorte
- 2004 - 2005 Alison Forbes
- 2005 - 2006 Stephanie Murray
- 2006 - 2007 Paris Meilleur
- 2007 - 2008 David Simmonds
- 2008 - 2009 Trevor Mayoh
- 2009 - 2010 Dan Moulton
- 2010 - 2011 Meaghan Coker
- 2011 - 2012 Sean Madden
- 2012 - 2013 Alysha Li
- 2013 - 2014 Amir Eftekarpour
- 2014 - 2015 Jen Carter
- 2015 - 2016 Spencer Nestico-Semianiw
- 2016 - 2017 Jamie Cleary
- 1994 - 1996 Michael Burns
- 1997 Rick Marin (Interim)
- 1997 - 1998 Barry McCartan
- 1998 - 1999 Andrew Boggs
- 1999 - 2001 Ryan Parks
- 2001 - 2002 Bryce Rudyk
- 2002 James Meloche (Interim)
- 2002 - 2003 Leslie Church
- 2003 - 2005 Adam Spence
- 2005 - 2007 Scott Courtice
- 2007 - 2008 Chris Locke
- 2008 - 2009 Howie Bender
- 2009 - 2011 Alexi White
- 2011 – 2012 Sam Andrey
- 2012 - 2013 Rylan Kinnon
- 2014 – 2015 Sean Madden
- 2015 – present Zachary Rose
- "Newswire Press Release". Retrieved 2011-05-27.
- "OUSA Welcomes New Member". Newsroom. Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance. Retrieved 9 April 2016.