In 1992, the Alma Mater Society recognized a need to be aligned with an external provincial lobby group that would be an effective advocate to the Province. Issues at stake included tuition levels, under-funding and teaching quality. At that time, the AMS was part of the Ontario Federation of Students, and recognized the importance of having a strong collective voice, rather than several individual voices. However, students wished to change the focus, strategy and priorities of that voice.
AMS History of OUSA
Thus, the AMS became a founding member of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA), making significant contributions to the writing of its constitution and policies. A referendum vote held in fall 1993 students approved AMS membership in OUSA and subsequently OUSA officially incorporated in 1994. The AMS chose to leave the organization in 1995 over financial concerns but remained entirely supportive of OUSA policies and lobbying efforts. Over the next few years the AMS reconsidered its external alignment and rejoined OUSA in 2001 as a non-voting member, and regaining full membership in 2004.
Your student fees + OUSA
As a member of OUSA, the AMS approved a membership fee, via the referendum process, for each undergraduate student – a fee that currently costs $2.85. This fee, which was normally subject to the triennial review process by referendum, was reclassified by the AMS Assembly in 2010. Due to the unique nature of the fee, the critical importance of maintaining external alignment, and the enormous expenditure of resources by the Academic Affairs Commission in conducting a referendum every third year, the Assembly voted that the OUSA fee should no longer be required to go to referendum every three years. Rather, AMS Assembly established a special committee on external alignment tasked with submitting a report each year “for each external body with which the AMS is affiliated.” Essentially in our current context, the committee would be struck to audit the work of OUSA and report its findings to the assembly no later than the Assembly’s second last scheduled meeting in the winter term.
About this committee
This committee, officially known as the Special Committee on External Alignment, is charged with reviewing the operations of all groups of which the AMS is externally affiliated with, in this case OUSA. It will review OUSA’s operations and specifically its membership structure, yearly activities, policies and financial statements. As part of its mandate, the committee will actively seek to solicit feedback from students on the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance and the importance of external alignment. In so doing, it will utilize this blog, an online survey, and discussions to be held at faculty society assemblies.
Have your say
The process of reviewing OUSA began in December and as Chair of the committee, I strongly encourage everyone to educate themselves on what OUSA does and to consider why it is important to be a member of an externally affiliated group at a time when Ontario universities are facing serious financial resource challenges. The committee will carefully review all of the feedback it receives and will meet weekly throughout the winter semester to prepare a written report for AMS assembly.
If you want to give the committee your views, fill out this quick (and fairly straightforward) survey!Take our OUSA survey here!
Thank you for your participation in this process. External lobbying is important, but remaining accountable to Queen’s students is always our #1 priority.
AMS President & CEO and Chair,
Special Committee on External Alignment