Statement from the Executive Committee

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Statement Of The Executive Committee

The Executive Committee of the University of Ottawa Students’ Union is closely monitoring local, national and international developments regarding the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. As such, we are working hard to seek and provide students with updates and will continue to update students as more information comes to light. 

As we begin our mandates, the Executive Committee is excited to begin its work, advocating on behalf of and providing services to all undergraduate and professional students of the University of Ottawa. Here are a few updates on what we’ve been working on: 

The Executive Committee is worried about the effect of this crisis on students and their mental, physical and financial wellbeing. A particular concern is for international students, and the support available to them during this time. Though the Canadian Emergency Student Benefit is a step in the right direction, international students face little support as they go through the same hardships as many Canadians and face additional obstacles away from home. This is the same for exchange students who may not be able, or want to go home, due to travel restrictions, the risk of travelling or the costs amidst the economic fallout of COVID-19 in many countries. We’re committed to helping our students through the COVID-19 crisis. We’re currently working on an action plan to assist students’ needs. This would include:

  • A hardship fund which would provide additional relief to students throughout the summer in support of their studies, financial, housing and general needs. 
  • A page providing students with all of the resources available to them. This would provide information on, among others, sources of financial aid, food security, housing support and support for international students. The Executive Committee will work with the university and local government to inform students of the various options available for help.
  • An active survey collecting data on the effects of the pandemic on students. This will help the Committee in evaluating the approach and measures to adopt and to identify the various needs students may face
  • Advocating to the provincial and federal government for more funding and resources to help students in this time of distress. Though the province has a responsibility over post-secondary education, we’ve only seen action from the Federal government, which still lacks in fully addressing the challenges faced in the student community. 

The Executive Committee would also like to recognize and address concerns surrounding the collection of UOSU ancillary fees for the spring/summer semester. Ancillary fees collected by the UOSU are used to ensure the operation of UOSU and its services, and are also collected on the behalf of external groups to the UOSU, including Recognized Student Governments and student media. The UOSU was instructed by the University that it could not collect partial fees, and were given a short time frame with which to make a decision. Due to the uncertainty created, and after careful consideration for the hundreds of students that rely on services and the groups for which it collects fees, the Executive committee has instructed the University of Ottawa to continue collecting these fees for the spring-summer semester. 

We want to assure students that all funds collected will go directly back to students: both through leading by example as an employer in spite of difficult economic times by ensuring that our dedicated team of employees continue providing services remotely, and through creating a hardship fund, as mentioned above. We also recognize that the cost of tuition remains unaffordable for many students. As this pandemic is exacerbating existing inequalities while creating new ones, we will redouble our lobbying efforts to ensure education is a right, rather than a privilege, in Ontario. We thank students for their understanding, and we commit to reviewing the situation in the Fall Semester as this pandemic evolves

Though a lot of uncertainty surrounds the fall, we will continue to monitor the situation and adapt as we learn more about the provisions put in place. We’ve learned that the University is currently evaluating different scenarios for the fall, and will continue to follow-up with the University for more updates. 

We encourage our members to reach out with questions, and to get in touch with us through exec@uosu-seuo.com .

In alignment with the recommendation of authorities, the Executive Committee will continue to work remotely, and the UOSU office will remain closed for the moment. We want to encourage everyone to continue practicing physical distancing and to take the precautionary measures needed to avoid contagion, as recommended by public health authorities, such as staying home as much as you can, practicing frequent hand washing and sanitizing, and wearing a mask. 

Our sympathies are with everyone impacted by this unprecedented situation. 

 

In Solidarity,

The Executive Committee 

Babacar Faye – Président [president@uosu-seuo.com]

Nour El Huda – Operations Commissioner [operations@uosu-seuo.com]

Marissa St Amand – Francophone Affairs Commissioner [francophone@uosu-seuo.com]

Tim Gulliver – Advocacy Commissioner [revendication-advocacy@uosu-seuo.com]

Amina El Himri – Student Services Commissioner [services-commissioner@uosu-seuo.com]