Vote on OUSA? OUSA who?

Comprised of seven member university coalitions, the Ontario University Student Alliance (OUSA) is a collective body that actively lobbies the provincial government to provide for superior post-secondary education, whether that be by lowering tuition fees or improving the quality of teaching.

The AMS’s membership means students pay an annual mandatory fee of $1.98 which will be increased to $2.07 next year if the AMS’s membership is renewed in the upcoming Nov. 6-7 referendum. The AMS has advocated the importance of participation in the alliance, claiming that leaving OUSA will hinder Queen’s students’ ability to lobby for change.

Another hindrance the AMS has so far neglected is that a discouraging number of students have no idea what OUSA is—when discussing its relevance in a Journal editorial board meeting, few of those present knew what OUSA was, let alone what it was for. The AMS has a lot of catching up to do to educate Queen’s population on OUSA’s mandate and why our money is a necessary contribution.

OUSA hasn’t provided much in terms of visible results in recent years, leaving room for other options to be explored. One noteworthy alternative to OUSA is the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), which has similar goals but often employs more aggressive tactics to achieve them. CFS lobbies to both the provincial and federal governments, so the AMS could technically be a member of both groups.

CFS’s predominant appeal is its numbers—86 student unions compared to OUSA’s seven. If those numbers indicate swaying power, CFS comparably has the ability to get things done. CFS tactics might be too radical for Queen’s, although it’s telling that AMS vice-president (University Affairs) Julia Mitchell said OUSA’s ineffectual reports are more in keeping with AMS “values.”

Membership in CFS has the potential, too, to polarize its members because of its somewhat antagonistic methods. Although bolder statements can garner attention, too much aggression would only isolate CFS members from its lobbyist targets.

Ideally, the AMS would have the option of actively participating in a group that ideologically represents a median between OUSA and CFS, and made recommendations through both policy suggestions and placid demonstrations. Whomever the AMS allies itself with, however, it’s vital our student government takes an active role and keeps students informed as to what’s going on.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.