On May 17, Queen’s secured an executive position in the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA).
Julia Göllner, ArtSci ‘19 and current AMS academic affairs commissioner (AAC), was elected OUSA’s vice-president of administration and human resources (VPAHR) over her opponent, a steering committee member from Brock University.
OUSA—which advocates for the collective interests of Ontario’s undergraduate students—was one of 2016’s key players in recommending that the $365-million tax credit be repurposed into student grants for low income families.
“I think it’s incredibly exciting,” Göllner told The Journal. “I’m excited that Queen’s now has the opportunity to involve themselves further within OUSA and be there for more of the decision making.”Julia Göllner (middle). Supplied by: AMS Communications
Previously, only the AMS vice-president of university affairs (VPUA) could run for the position. However, the nature and responsibilities of the VPUA position makes running for an executive position within OUSA unfeasible.
In 2016, AMS VPUA Carolyn Thompson and AAC Leah Brockie submitted a recommendation to the AMS assembly suggesting the executive vote automatically given to the VPUA be transitioned to the AAC.
“They felt that [an OUSA executive position] really prevented the VPUA from completing their duties properly here on campus, because it meant that the VPUA would be away a lot,” current Vice-President of University Affairs, Munro Watters, said in an interview. She added that Thompson suggested this recommendation to her successor Palmer Lockridge.
“Palmer was transitioned on it, however he elected not to follow through with that,” she said. “He decided it would be better for him to maintain the vote, whatever his reasons were for that.”
While Watters wasn’t transitioned on the recommendation, Göllner approached her with the idea.
“Julia came up to me and we had a conversation about it, and from there I thought, honestly, this makes a lot of sense,” Watters said.
Göllner believes her role as the AAC will help her succeed in her role as the VPAHR.
“I think that the nature of my position here at [Queen’s], dealing with academic grievances, makes me well prepared to deal with those same kind of issues within OUSA. Most of my transition for the AAC role was reading policy, and I was unknowingly preparing myself for this decision by reading the bylaws,” she said, adding that she read the bylaws four times before she knew she was going to run for vice-president.
Excited for her new role, Göllner said “anything that’s important to the students is something worth advocating for”, but has a special interest in advocating for open educational resources.
Reflecting on British Columbia’s success in introducing free course material, Göllner said it’s made “a huge difference for students in terms of their affordability of post-secondary education.”
“It’s something that Queen’s has been paying a lot of attention to,” she added. “I’m hoping that, through OUSA, I can further that process.”
This article has been updated to reflect that Göllner is not the first Queen’s student to be elected to OUSA’s executive.
The Journal regrets the error
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