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Advocacy Unveiled: An Intro to OSV Recap

DAY 1: SUNDAY, MAY 26TH 2024


In this session we will talk about pre OSV. This will go back to the very first meeting that a group of student leaders had with Colleges Ontario in April 2021. We are going to stay as high level as possible to not get into the weeds. For this we will focus on the Implementation Committee, the first year and a half of OSV and then into our future goals for OSV. This will help delegates to get a better understanding of where OSV has been and where it is heading. 


The group learned about the Current political layout in Canada. They also dove into the different types of advocacy at the federal, provincial, municipal and institutional level. This was in order to set the foundation for the work that OSV can do at the provincial level. They then learned about current student advocacy that is being done in ontario and how we can leverage these groups.

Olami then presented on the topic of advocacy priorities and prompted the question:  What is impacting students and Student Unions? He then showed the group what OSV’s priorities have been for the last two years: Tuition / housing / student financial aid / mental Health / food insecurity / International Student Support. The group was then tasked with selecting 3 priorities at this conference and then we will select our final two in July at the Policy conference.

There was then conversation regarding the benefits of Qualitative group associations in advocacy, it can provide us with a deep understanding of the issue and create targeted advocacy. This may pose the question of, what’s done with it?

  • Data collection and analysis

  • Narrative analysis

  • Prioritization

  • Strategy development

  • Implementation and evaluation

The group then went into an ideation session where they were “speed dating” to learn more about the various advocacy topics that they are each faced with on their campuses. This led to the group putting sticky notes under each of the five questions: what does an ACCESSIBLE Post Secondary Education in Ontario look like, what does a HIGH QUALITY Post Secondary Education in Ontario look like, what does an AFFORDABLE Post Secondary Education in Ontario look like, what does PRIORITIZING Student Success in Post Secondary Education in Ontario look like, If you could fix one thing in PSE, what would it be?


During this session we engaged with membership to receive feedback on the draft 2025-2028 strategic plan. Nelson led the group through an interactive session where they focused on each of the pillars in the draft strategic plan. Each group went through and put a long-term goal with a metric for each of the following pillars: Governance, Advocacy, Research, Membership, Public Relations, and Fiscal Responsibility. This information will be compiled for the board to review and take into consideration before approving the 2025-2028 Strategic plan.


Whether internally or externally, giving presentations can be a big part of a communicator’s world. But speaking in public is also one of the most common fears, and it is natural to feel anxious about putting yourself out there.

This session digs into this natural fear, and finds ways to help participants feel more comfortable when giving presentations.

At the end of the session, we aim to make public speaking a little less scary, and a bigger part of your overall communications toolbox. 

(Feel your fear and do it anyway)


  • Skill for leadership/advocacy and career development

  • Regularly required

  • Key to influencing decisions

  • Enhances your professional image

How to deal with anxiety during public speaking:

  • Mental prep

  • Physical preparation

  • What you where - dress for success

  • Posture matters

  • Contextual preparation


  • P = Practice

  • A = Adjust

  • R = Rehearse 

Performance Prep - record yourself / you don’t look at nervous at you feel

  • What should you say

  • Where to start - everything flows from:

  • Objectives

  • Key messages

  • call(s) to action

Research and organization

  • Build a strong base

  • Organize your info

  • Adapt your speech 

  • Ensure info is relevant

Speech Structure

  • crafting compelling intro and hooks

  • Powerful quote/ surprising statistic / intriguing question

  • Connect the hook to main theme

  • Tap into audience emotions / interest

  • Establish the tone

  • Building body

  • Break into 3-4 sections

  • Use data / examples / anecdotes

  • Mix narratives/facts/interactive context

  • Incorporate visuals (reinforce your messages)


We hosted roundtable discussions on membership, communications and campus advocacy. This provided all attendees the opportunity to provide us with feedback on these 3 key areas. Over the next year we hope to offer more tangible membership benefits, provide regular communication, and focus on our advocacy efforts. Some of the key takeaways from these conversations were that delegates would like more of these opportunities to just connect with other student leaders, a digital place to connect, a resource library where OSV provides documents that Student Associations can share with their students but also a place for student leaders to post their bylaws, policies, and other relevant documents, more training sessions, and coles notes of issues that are impacting students.

DAY 2: May 27th, 2024


Uncover the inner workings of OSV’s policy creation framework and our approach to advocacy development. Engage in lively discussions as we ideate and solidify our advocacy priorities for the year. The group started by having conversations with their student associations to discuss what topics they thought were important and what they wanted to see OSV advocate for this year, based off of the ones that were created in the session on Sunday: 

  • Tuition + Student Aid

  • Enhancing quality and teaching standards

  • Academic Flexibility and Accessible Learning

  • Student Health and Wellness

  • Food Insecurity

The group then formed two larger group where three student associations came together to discuss each of their thoughts on advocacy, there were lots of discussion and negotiations happening. Once the two larger groups felt most comfortable they went forward and put their monopoly money in the five advocacy priority boxes based off of what they wanted to vote for. The money was then tallied and 3 of our 5 Advocacy Priorities were selected they are: Affordability (Tuition & Student Financial Aid), Student Health & Wellness (including mental health), and food insecurity).


The board hosted the 2023-2024 AGM where members voted in the new board of directors for the 2024/2025 year, approved the bylaw amendments, and approved the 2023 financial statements.


MaryLiz Warwik moderated our Fireside Chat with Panelists: Sean Kennedy (President of Niagara College) and Sischa Maharaj (Senior Consultant, Business Development and External Relations for Devant group) on "Empowering Post-Secondary Students: Unleashing Potential and Strengthening Support Systems." They explored the transformative power of holistic development, career readiness, innovation and research, diversity and inclusion, and community engagement in shaping the educational journey of post-secondary students. From mentorship programs to community service initiatives, discover how these support systems enrich students' experiences, preparing them for future challenges, and contributing to a more inclusive and innovative society. 

The following are the questions and answers from the session:

  • Question 1 - How do you think post-secondary institutions can better encourage and support students during their academic journey?

  • Close work between student unions and the college regarding student initiatives

  • Collective energy and resources (approach)

  • Breaks down silos 

  • Stays up to date on student concerns

  • Powerful from advocacy perspective

  • Go as a partnership to take on initiatives - united front

  • Work on the relationships

  • Monthly meetings

  • Talk through issues

  • Make students feel like they are not a number

  • Student need different things based on the year they are in

  • More career pathing into the syllabus - what career paths do people have based on curriculum

  • Skill development based on reflection of self

  • Give students something so they better know where they are headed even if the jobs haven't been created yet

  • Have same language and capabilities

  • Adjust how people learn and how they are tested

  • Question 2 - What role do you see for college presidents in advocating for policy changes that benefit post-secondary students at the provincial level?

  • Role of president is a “chief-storyteller”

  • Constantly telling the story of the value of graduates and programs to the success of the economy, industries, etc.  - value of ontario colleges

  • How you connect and do federal lobbying - how to figure out how we are lobbying provincially to federally 

  • Leverage the student experience

  • Question 3 - How can institutions collaborate on research and data sharing to better understand and address the needs of post-secondary students?

  • Look at if we have limited resources, how do we spend it for the best outcome. Working together with students to figure out where they need the support. Leverage student knowledge and experience for allocation.

  • What is the career intervention international students need?

  • How to we leverage technology to better students groups

  • Allocate and innovate to better avenues for investments

  • Question 4 - How can colleges collectively address common challenges faced by post-secondary students, such as mental health issues and financial insecurity

  • Reflect on and check out other college styles/resources

  • Ministry of Colleges and universities and mental health association convened to address student mental health - that should happen again

  • Ontario government had Ontario Trust for Student Support - helped in getting donors to fund student scholarships (2-1 / 3-1 matching program - for everyone dollar donated, the government matched it)

  • We should try to bring this program back to make a difference

  • Question 5 - How does Devant assess the needs and challenges faed by post-secondary students

  • Assist college career centers

  • Storytelling / resume / cover letter / job interviews assistance / modules / job boards (Kibi)

  • free weekly events to assist students that are important to you - mostly career topics

  • They use data / analyze it to see what is most impacting students

  • Conducting research for student needs (life and professional) 

  • Audience connections 

  • How to rebuild relationship with executives

  • Work with the broader team and find someone who is open to working with the team

  • Invite the president to events so they can meet with students

  • Leverage connections

  • Break bread together - start with an informal meeting and build a connection - have fun together


CASA’s Executive Director, Wasiimah Joomun presented on what successful advocacy looks like. She provided delegates with a better understanding of how advocacy works and how they can engage with government officials in order to create meaningful change. She went over people & behaviours, what works?, lobbying, closing the deal, and how to get the most out of your meetings with MPPs. She was able to explain what government relations is: Government relations is a complex, interwoven series of connections that broadly influence all areas of governance as it relates to public policy, programs and a government’s budgetary priorities.

She took delegates through the decision making process which includes 5 steps:

  1. Precontemplation - issue not on their radar

  2. Contemplation - Issue on radar, decision makers aware

  3. Preparation - Decision makers open to ideas/ options

  4. Action - Decision makers take preferred option

  5. Maintenance - Option is implemented

The advantages as students: youth vote (every party wants your support), wins (Governments invest in education), Alumni (student politicians become real politicians), Issue Consistency (Student financial aid as a constant issue helps keep it on the agenda.

Disadvantages as students: Capacity (some part-time student and leaders and limited staff), reputation (Bad press on student unions is bad politics), Consistency (Different Approaches year-over-year), turnover (blink and your term is over).

Approach to public policy, 3 things you should remember when advocating to government: tell good stories, provide feasible solutions, and adapt to a window and make it relevant to them. Also important to have decisions ready to solve problem: Stress the importance of your policy library otherwise you risk losing credibility (Can’t fix every problem with a hammer just because you have a hammer). When it comes to the ask you have to make sure that it is politically relevant, resonates with the audience and that it advances your objective. 2 tips: make sure you are speaking their language is it budgetary or regulatory?

When it comes to lobbying there are 3 T’s for Execution: Targeting, Timing, and Tactics. Cycles of influence help you figure out how decisions are made. It’s the behind the scenes action for public announcements and changes: Budgets, Elections, Terms, Sessions, and Reviews. Relationship building is key! Wasiimah also went over the steps to have a successful meeting. She then broke the group out into smaller groups to have mock meetings.


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