For my co-op this fall term, I had the amazing opportunity to work with WUSA as the Student Research and Policy Assistant (SRPA). While we had to work remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been a pleasure working with WUSA and everyone else involved in the projects I was a part of. Even with the distance, I felt welcomed to the team and had a wonderful time in my role!
Over the term, my work has consisted of creating surveys and analyzing their results, doing secondary research related to student safety, mental health, and collection of race-based data, among other topics, as well as help update the policies on WUSA’s website and revamp our Sexual Violence Prevention and Response policy. If you participated in the Teaching and Course Quality, Housing, and/or Accessibility surveys that WUSA has launched this fall term, they’re just a couple of examples of work I’ve done! (And as a side note – at the time this article is published, the Housing and Accessibility surveys are still active and can be completed at survey.wusa.ca!)
Below are some of the major projects I worked on!
Teaching and Course Quality Survey
The biggest project I worked on this term was WUSA’s Teaching and Course Quality Survey and Report. This survey was conducted to understand students’ experience with remote or online learning and how it could be improved. It built on a spring survey conducted by the University’s Institutional Analysis and Planning office (IAP), and was guided by the University’s Strategies for Remote Teaching.
I created the survey with some help from IAP, and summarized the analyzed results in a report, available for anyone interested to view on the WUSA website and is titled Fall 2020 WUSA Teaching and Course Quality Survey Report. This opportunity gave me real hands-on experience with primary research, something I haven’t had many chances to do before. I really enjoyed working on this project, as it was very interesting to hear about students’ thoughts and I was grateful for being able to give those thoughts a voice when putting together the report!
OUSA General Assembly Delegate
WUSA is a member of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA), which represents and advocates for undergraduate voices across Ontario. OUSA holds a General Assembly twice a year, where representatives from all member schools have the opportunity to meet and discuss policy papers that will be published and guide OUSA advocacy efforts. This past October, I had the opportunity to be one of the delegates representing WUSA at the fall General Assembly!
For a weekend, I learned about the process OUSA goes through in finalizing policy papers with delegates providing feedback in groups and rotating between the papers, before finally voting for changes and the passing of the papers on the final day, Plenary. It was very insightful to learn more about policy processes and the priorities of different delegations, as well as hear the many ideas that other students felt were important for OUSA to address in their policies. Overall, it was a memorable experience and I’m honoured to have been a part of it.
For the past term, WUSA has been working with GSA to put together a Housing Survey to understand the housing challenges students face and how we can better support you. Even before starting this term with WUSA, I knew housing has been a major challenge for many students in the Waterloo region, and was excited to learn that WUSA is working to address these issues and advocate for students’ needs related to housing. A lot of work went into this project and GSA has been a great partner to work with; knowing that GSA wanted to explore certain topics within housing that WUSA is also interested in, was a big help in guiding our focus. I look forward to seeing the survey results and how WUSA and GSA will implement students’ feedback. If you haven’t already, you can still complete the Housing Survey over on survey.wusa.ca!
Overall, my time at WUSA has been really wonderful and I’m grateful for the experiences I had. As my term comes to an end, I want to give a big thank you to everyone I worked with! I really appreciate the opportunities that working with WUSA gave me, and I won’t be forgetting this any time soon.