Ah, the start of a brand new year. I can’t help but notice a lot more people have flocked to the Minto gym, and my friends are eating much healthier than usual. And why not, it’s time to get started on those New Year’s resolutions.
But why hog all the fun? Why don’t we make a few resolutions for the powers that be on campus, to make this year better than the last one?
Let’s start with the university. 2017 was a busy year, and there’s a lot to improve on as we toss out our old calendars.
The Fulcrum’s first outgoing New Year’s resolution is for the U of O administration. We recommend resolving to improve the university’s accessibility policy in the coming year. For example, looking into why certain buildings have no elevators, and finding ways to make campus a more accessible space for students and staff with a variety of physical and mental abilities, including those which aren’t so visible. This means ongoing consultation with groups such as the Centre for Students with Disabilities, and providing training materials to professors to better adapt to the diverse needs of their students
Our second recommended resolution for the university is to make it easier for students to access crucial services on campus. This means revamping our mental health services and fixing problems like long wait times. A Jan. 9 policy paper by the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) report highlights the importance of implementing a more effective system for dispensing mental health services and advocates for more action on the issue. It cites deeply troubling statistics from National College Health Association, that “44.4 per cent of surveyed students reported that at some point in the previous twelve months they felt ‘so depressed it was difficult to function’” and that “13 per cent had seriously considered suicide.”
Easier access to services also includes more academic services like academic advisors, and online course tools. Students and teachers on the university’s Board of Governors are already saying the status quo is unacceptable, and it’s time for a change.
While we’re at it, we also have some resolutions for the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO).
The first resolution is to release the most recent version of their constitution to the public. The SFUO has actually done a good job lately of making their meetings more accessible by live-streaming them, so why not seize on that momentum this year? The most recent version of the SFUO constitution posted to their website was last updated in 2016. Not only were there some mistakes that exist in that document that will be fixed in the new one, but a lot of motions have passed in the SFUO’s Board of Administration in the past two years, many of which were constitutional changes, and it’s important to have them reflected in a way the student body can see.
It seems a bit audacious to assign resolutions to other people, but the fact is that the university administration and SFUO have real power to solve problems that have been plaguing students for years. What better time than the fresh slate of a new year to get the ball rolling?
Hopefully, long after the Minto gym crowds have thinned out, and my friends have caved and started eating junk food with me, we will still be working hard on these necessary policy resolutions at the U of O.