Each year the WUSA Executive team puts together a plan for work they wish to complete. This year we put together an ambitious plan during a year of great uncertainty. While we worked hard to complete or set the stage for work within the organization, there is work still left over or ongoing. This summary provides some reflections on the work we’ve done this past year directly connected to our Annual Plan goals. This is not an exhaustive list of the work we have completed.
Institutional Racial Equity Reform
This year we focused much of our work on making long awaited changes to WUSA and recommendations to the University. Most of our work can be found in our EDI Update released this week but here is a highlight of some work tied directly to our Annual Plan promises:
- Equity Supports & Training – The President worked with full-time staff and external consultants to add mandatory training for all full-time staff and mandatory training for governance volunteers (Executive, Board, Council). In addition, the President worked with full-time staff to pilot new strategies for equitable hiring practices which will be solidified over the next year. More work is expected to be done to further train volunteers in other aspects of the organization (clubs, marketing, student-run services).
- Holding the University Accountable – More work is needed here. We struggled to get seats on university bodies, which we now have and have filled. There was a lot of confusion surrounding PART for our executive which only recently was cleared up. We look forward to seeing impactful work over the next year.
- WUSA needs a strategy for consulting with students and data collection within the organization. Students experienced survey fatigue this year and focus groups are not always safe places for students to share their thoughts. While this was a goal we hoped to put in place, we look forward to seeing movement from full-time staff over the next year as we work to improve this.
- We secured regular meetings with the interim AVP HREI and have worked collaboratively over the last year. Additionally, we were part of the review of the HREI office to share concerns we heard from students over the spring term.
- Equity Fund – We were unable to complete this. However, we have paved a path forward. In discussion with the Internal Funding Committee (IFC) and staff, the best way forward for this is to adjust the Enterprise, Opportunity, and Innovation (EOI) Fund to add an equity initiatives component. The changes to procedure will be reviewed by the committee and staff and brought to the May meeting of Students’ Council for approval.
- We did secure up to $10,000 in funding for equity initiatives run by students and financially supported RAISE’s XChanges conference in March as part of our commitment to funding equity and anti-racism events on campus.
This work is ongoing. While our team hoped to make larger strides, the work we have completed has laid the groundwork for our full-time staff and incoming executive team to continue to work towards an improved organization.
COVID – 19
- Covid19 Fiscal Responsibility – We have cut costs and the VPOF closely managed our budget over the year to ensure that our cash flows remained at an acceptable level. The real measure of this work will be demonstrated in the FY2022 budget actuals in the Spring term.
- Mental Health Supports – While work must continue to support the growing and upcoming needs for students, the work completed this year by the President showcases some additional supports for students:
- StudentCare expanded coverage of EmpowerMe to 24 countries to better accommodate international students gaining access to counselling,
- The Committee of President’s worked with the WUSA President to pen a letter to UW Counselling Services requesting more support for BIPOC students on our campus; and
- WUSA supported the WUSA club BASE through proposal and hiring process of the new Black Student Support Counsellor.
- Teaching and Course Quality in Response to COVID-19 – We have yet to receive results from the university’s winter term survey. We’ve also had the opportunity to highlight some excellent instructors through our WUSA and OUSA teaching awards.
- The long-term impact of COVID-19 on student mental health is yet to be seen. We must continue to monitor the needs of our students as we transition back to on-campus care.
- Member Management System – This has been created and is currently being used to facilitate payment for the GRT Post-Secondary term pass and certain other fees. The functionality and use in other areas are being assessed and will be rolled out as needed.
- New student transition – The WUSA Box initiative was a huge success last summer as a strategy to increase engagement and welcome our incoming first-year students. We look forward to seeing this initiative grow and evolve over the next year.
- Implemented an online Services Fair and Clubs and Societies Days to ensure students have access to new clubs and services online!
- WUSA Town Halls – This year we piloted 3 town halls with the executive team. This project is now part of the regular operations of WUSA and we look forward to future success.
- Volunteer retention – While work was completed in this area, much is left to be done over the next few years. An area of significant strides was the creation of a Students’ Council engagement strategy which will roll out over the next year to highlight the volunteers in the governance portfolio. Significant work is still required in this area.
- WUSA will continue to improve our student engagement strategies as part of the Long-Range Plan! We look forward to seeing many successes.
- Representative Survey Platform – The VPEd has worked tirelessly to move this project forward. While there were many roadblocks, Megan has worked through them with our staff to set the groundwork for an improved survey platform to improve our research capacity.
- Race-based data – The VPSL has worked closely with the equity data advisory group to monitor the progress of data collection on our campus. We look forward to seeing the organization make use of this data, once it’s available, to better support the needs of students.
Student Support and Spaces
- Bomber Space Lounge – We are currently working on the financial plan for this space. The buy-in necessary from University personnel has delayed this process. This is an item that your new VPOF is transitioned on and our staff are working diligently to move forward. Please check out the proposed plans on our website!
- Rewarding Student Roles – We have hired a number of new co-op roles over the year. There is also currently a plan that will be going to Board that allows more co-op involvement in our commercial areas. Covid was a significant barrier to assessing existing roles and hiring new ones, but our staff have been involved in this process and are committed to this item.
- Effective Clubs Support – The VPSL worked hard, with our staff, to improve clubs support. We are at the second iteration of the Clubs Admin System. A long term plan of desired updates has been laid out. The Clubs
- Manager is working with IT to track progress.
- Fed Hall Review – Students’ Council voted to postpone this discussion to next governing year. The referendum was delayed and no work was conducted.
- Student space review – This goal was not started. A review is still necessary but is not a priority for the organization at this time.
Expanding Our Network
- Alumni Engagement – The President met on multiple occasions with Advancement to discuss long-term goals for partnership. This project will continue to grow and be supported by our full-time staff.
- External Advocacy – This year we saw many advocacy wins (and some losses). Here are some highlights:
- Federal Budget 2021 – Federal Budget Recommendations 2021
- Ontario Budget 2021
- Ontario Budget Fall 2020
- Mental Health Supports – Provincial Government
- Police Funding Announcement
- Expanding WUSA services beyond the SLC – The Campus Life Department is working on making our events and student-led services accessible. Due to the events of COVID-19, there has not been progress of expanding our services to the satellite campuses.
Thank you to our staff, volunteers, and membership for supporting our goals this year. We look forward to seeing the work of the incoming team in action as we work to bring all students back to campus.