I want to first acknowledge and show my gratitude for the tireless efforts of our volunteers, coordinators, staff, Board of Directors and Executives. It is each and every one of you who collectively form the backbone of this Students’ Alliance, both on the frontlines and behind the scenes. Each day, these amazing selfless characters keep me on my feet and serve as a constant reminder that I am in this position only by the privilege of your continued support and that no matter how much we do, there is always more to be done. I accept that not as an obstacle, but as a unique and enthusiastic challenge.
Our student movement does not exist without you, so my promise to you is that your Students’ Alliance will always put you first. We exist to represent the majority while protecting and advocating for the oppressed minority. As long as are there are students to keep this movement alive–students who fight for accessible and quality education, students who believe in their rights as learners, and students who believe in their own power to shape a world far better than what was left for us–then there will always be an Alliance that has your back.
It’s no secret that this has been a wild year for the UWSA. While those of us working for the UWSA know what really happens on the inside, there is the unfortunate reality that sometimes our actions don’t always translate positively to those outside of our seemingly encased window. It can seem like, with every election comes another controversy. With every drama, comes another reason to distance yourself from the UWSA; to call it corrupt, to call it useless, to call it self-serving and ignorant of what the students truly want.
And you know what? All of these things are true. But they are only true from an outside perspective. And when we are a Students’ Alliance that is supposed to be driven and led by students for students, then the only perspective that matters is yours.
I’m in my second year, but this is now my fourth position within the UWSA. So, coming into my first year, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to give back to the campus community, and that was through the UWSA. Although, unlike many of my fellow Lancers out there, I’ve never before heard about or seen the UWSA from outside eyes. Not until this year.
Throughout this past term, we as a Students’ Alliance have lived, learned, and grew. Lived, as we went through a reality of having no President and no General Manager while watching our executives take on both roles simultaneously. Learned, as we saw the pros and cons in dealing with the many challenges that came our way. And grew, as we’ve pressed forward and thrived despite those challenges. Our Students’ Alliance is only as strong as the students who believe in our student movement…who see themselves as the core and driving force of our campus community. You are our identity. We, as students, don’t need to ask anybody for permission to enact change. We don’t need to take the power to change. We already have that power. It is you the everyday student who gives the most to this university, that shapes this Students’ Alliance. You don’t need a title or position to have a voice, or to advocate for yourself in a culture that is a constant subject of phobias, oppressions, and discrimination. One voice is all it takes to implement change.
I want to leave you with a quote that I live by every day, by the renowned Dr. Angela Davis: “I’m no longer accepting the things I cannot change…I’m changing the things I cannot accept.” As I close our chapter together for 2017-18, I put this to each of you: what will you accept before you embrace your power to change?
Most Presidents would conclude with the timeless tradition of “it’s been an honour and privilege.” This unparalleled journey has meant more to me than words can describe. To put it simply, it has been an extraordinary blessing to have served as your 2017-18 President and to continue serving as your President for the 2018-19 year.
Stay frosty friends, and see you in the new year.
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