Message from your WUSA President and Vice-President

Published: Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Message from your WUSA President

Season’s Greetings and Important Updates from WUSA! 

Dear University of Waterloo Undergraduate Students, 

As the holiday season approaches, we hope this message finds you well and in good spirits. As we are all preparing for a well-deserved break after we get through this exam period, we wanted to take a moment to update you on a small handful of exciting developments here at the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association. 

WUSA Nomination Period: November to January 

WUSA is pleased to announce the commencement of the WUSA nomination period, which started in November and will extend until January 15th. This is an excellent opportunity for passionate and dedicated individuals like you to step forward and contribute to the enhancement of student life at Waterloo. Your involvement is crucial to shaping the future of our community. Now is the time to go out and start collecting signatures, you only need 25 to run for a director or faculty senator position, and 100 to run for the at-large senator, Vice President, or president position.  

Want more information? Join the Student Leadership E-mail List to get regular updates on everything you need to know about nominations! 

Goose Statue Developments 

We understand the significance of the iconic Goose on our campus, and we are thrilled to share that there are exciting developments underway. The Goose has long been a symbol of our collective spirit and resilience, and we are committed to enhancing its presence on campus. Keep an eye out for upcoming announcements and events related to the Goose statue as we work to make it an even more integral part of the student experience. 

Ombudsperson Office Updates 

Ensuring the well-being and fair treatment of all students is a top priority for WUSA. We want to inform you about the ongoing efforts to implement the Ombudsperson Office, which serves as a resource for students to navigate the complicated systems of the University. A posting has been made and we are in the final stages of selecting an appropriate space for their office. From there they will be available to support every student on campus.  

Student Lounge Space Plans 

The Student Lounge is a central hub in SLC (Student Life Centre) for students to relax, socialize, and engage in various activities. WUSA is actively working on plans to enhance this space, creating an environment that fosters community and supports your diverse needs. Talk to any alumni and they will bring up nights spent at The Bomber. A lot has changed with the space, but we are still dedicated to renewing and improving the space going forward. More updates will be coming soon.  

Insights from Roundtable Discussions 

Throughout the year, we have had the privilege of engaging in meaningful discussions with students. Your insights have been invaluable in shaping our approach to addressing the challenges and opportunities within our community. We are committed to continued dialogue and collaboration, ensuring that your voices are heard, and your concerns are addressed. 

As this semester comes to a close, I once again wish to reiterate my call in my annual plan letter to students in which I called on each and every one of you to get involved in your University of Waterloo community in any way that you can – whether that be through clubs, societies, or running for a position in WUSA. Good luck with all of your exams and I wish you a joyful and restful holiday season! 

Warm regards,
Rory Norris
President, Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA)

Message from your WUSA Vice-President

Seasonal Greetings, Advocacy Achievements and Future Initiatives 

I would like to take a moment to update you on the significant advocacy efforts and accomplishments that WUSA has been actively engaging in on your behalf. Your support and involvement continue to be crucial in driving positive changes for our student community. The biggest thanks to our tireless volunteers, contract, part-time, and co-op students, and staff members for assisting with work, clubs, and services on a day-to-day basis.  

WUSA Advocacy Initiatives 

  1. Off-Campus Housing Advocacy: 
    After developing the WUSA Housing Report in 2021 which indicated a plethora of challenges our students face in acquiring off-campus housing, we developed a new Off-Campus Housing Stance that will be available soon on our website. We will use our Off-Campus Housing Stance to take directive action to address affordability, tenant rights, and securing housing challenges faced by our membership.
  2. Educational Quality & Experiential Education:
    As mentioned in the 2023-2024 Annual Plan, one of WUSA’s top priorities is to advocate for high quality post-secondary education. With recent developments on Co-op and Experiential Education policies, one of our main goals is to develop an advocacy stance that targets experiential learning and education. Through this stance, we can advocate for quality post-secondary experiences and immersive experiential learning opportunities.
  3. Transit & Transportation:
    As students, we are heavily dependent on efficient and reliable public transit service. At WUSA we also believe in effectively advocating for frequent, reliable, and affordable transportation and are developing an advocacy stance on transit and transportation. 

Provincial Advocacy with OUSA 

WUSA is an active member of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA), and our collective efforts have been focused on several key areas within the last term: 

  1. Housing, Transit & Community Development: We’ve contributed to comprehensive papers addressing housing, transit, and community development issues, and advocating for policies that benefit students across the province of Ontario. These papers are evidence-based policy papers that are ratified at general assemblies held at member institutions.
  2. Rural & Northern Students: WUSA is committed to representing the unique needs of students from rural and northern communities. Through OUSA, we have identified barriers to accessing post-secondary education that rural and northern students face and aim to develop policies that these barriers and recognize their unique experiences.
  3. Student Health & Wellness: Advocating for student health and wellness has been a central theme in our provincial initiatives. We’re striving to improve mental health resources, enhance healthcare accessibility, and create a supportive environment for students’ overall well-being both here at the University of Waterloo and through policies that address:  
  • Inadequate and fragmented mental health care 
  • Gaps in medical accommodations and health care coverage 
  • Barriers to sexual health support 
  • Inadequate supports for substance use 
  • Barriers to physical health and food security 

OUSA Consultations: 

During the Winter Term we are aiming to conduct consultations for our next series of policy papers, including Gender-based and Sexual Violence Prevention and Response, International Students and International Education, Addressing Racism and Religious Discrimination. 

At this time, we have been dedicating our efforts to collecting data and information from our institution that can be used to advocate for institutional change as well as provincial change. 

OUSA Student Advocacy Lobby Week: 

Our most recent and successful advocacy efforts occurred at Queens Park from November 26 to November 30, 2023. During our student advocacy conference, we worked alongside student representatives and OUSA staff to lobby MPPs for changes to housing, transit, mental health, food insecurity, and sector sustainability.  

You can find these successes through OUSA’s social media platforms: 

Federal Work with UCRU  

WUSA actively participates in the Undergraduates of Canadian Research-Intensive Universities (UCRU), engaging in federal advocacy efforts. Our recent pre-budget submission reflects our commitment to addressing the unique challenges faced by Canadian university students, including recommendations on mental health, international students, financial aid, and housing.  

Municipal Advocacy at the City of Waterloo 

Our engagement in municipal advocacy through the Town and Gown Committee has yielded several positive outcomes: 

  1. Student Accommodations Report: This comprehensive report outlines key recommendations to improve housing options for students within the city and provide statistical data detailing numbers of purpose-built student housing, the cost of living, safety, and challenges in acquiring student accommodations.
  2. Working Groups for International Students and Food Security: The Town and Gown Committee has established working groups to address challenges specific to international students and to enhance food security initiatives within our community here in Waterloo. 

Looking Ahead: 

As we move forward, WUSA is gearing up for another lobby week in February to further advocate for student interests. Your involvement and support continue to be essential in driving positive change for our university community. 

Thank you for entrusting us with the responsibility to represent your interests. Together, we can make a lasting impact on the student experience at the University of Waterloo. 

Wishing you a restful winter break and a successful end to the semester. 

Sincerely,
Katie Traynor
Vice-President, Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA) 

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