Copyright © 2020 Federation of Students, University of Waterloo operating as Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association
Preparing for the possibility of online autumn
On April 20, President Hamdullahpur’s office distributed an email asking that we prepare for the possibility of an online fall term. WUSA will stand behind the university as it determines what is best for the health of our community.
As we await that outcome, we are transitioning as many services as we can to an online format, including MATES and CAPS, among others. We’ve also increased remote access to food and staples through our Student Food Bank and would like to thank the more than 1,500 students who provided feedback in our recent survey on supporting you during this chaotic period. Despite the challenges before us, we will continue to support you with the services on which you’ve come to rely.
In partnership with the University, we also recently launched the Student Emergency Support Fund for those facing unexpected expenses. Some of our services that have always been remote continue to remain available, such as EmpowerMe's mental health hotline and tele-counselling options, our legal protection service, and the Centre for Academic Policy Support, which supports students with university petitions, grievances and appeals.
We also know students are concerned about online course offerings and the quality of education as a result. COVID-19 is leading to one of the most massive pedagogical (teaching practices) shifts in living memory. We know this is intimidating for both students and instructors, and a lot of them would prefer this not be the case. As a result, we are closely monitoring how the university is rolling out its academic programming. Current research suggests that motivated learners have comparable learning outcomes whether receiving instruction online or in the classroom, but with the rapid switch, we continue to listen to faculty student societies and you directly on how we can support student learning, and work with the university to address your concerns.
WUSA’s advocacy to the government also continues, and while we cannot give any details yet, we do know that our proposals for an income program for students not covered currently by the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) are being considered. We have made clear to government that students have both summer expenses and tuition, and no summer employment to pay for it.
As with all organizations, particularly in the not-for-profit sector, the financial impacts of COVID-19 are significant, and their extent is still being fully evaluated. We will continue doing our best to advocate for you and provide the level of service you have come to expect, but we want you to know we are taking a defensive approach to minimize deficits, ensure long-term health of the student government and its operations, and maximize the value of your student dollar. We appreciate your understanding and are grateful for your continued support during these challenging times, particularly if we must make difficult decisions in adjusting our service levels.
As we move forward, we are committed to keeping you informed on our website and social media channels. We know that right now many of you are facing struggles and are worried. At a time when we are increasingly apart, we want to thank you for being part of our community and remind you, that hasn’t changed. We are here to help, so please reach out if there’s an issue on which you think we should act or that we haven’t addressed on our website.
Matt (VP Education)
Amanda (VP Student Life)
Seneca (VP Operations & Finance)