Ontario Tech Student Union president wants students to be heard

Ontario Tech University Student Union president, Owen Davis (left) and Ontario Tech Student Union customer service Representative, Cameron van Velzen. Photo credit: Dennis Price

The focus of this school year for Ontario Tech’s newest student union (OTSU) president, Owen Davis, is to connect with students and give them a platform to voice the problems they are facing on campus.

Even though the university rebranded earlier this year, the student union president doesn’t want to stop the change there. Davis says he wants to represent students and help them with the problems they are facing on campus. An example, he says, is students felt there was not enough study space in the campus library last year. But he adds, that has been resolved.

Davis, 22, is a fifth-year Ontario Tech nuclear engineering and management student. The OTSU president’s job is full-time, he says, but presidents have the option to take one or two courses during their term. Davis decided to opt-out to focus his attention on representing students.

The OTSU’s former president and current vice-president of student affairs, Jessica Nguyen, says one campus improvement Davis is pushing for is connectivity.

“He is consistently networking and connecting with students to ensure if there are any gaps that they may be feeling,” she says.

She adds Davis is very transparent towards students and works to resolve any conflict they may face. As an example, she recalls when her and Davis helped a student who needed financial assistance by connecting them to the Student Awards and Financial Aid department.

Davis says he knew he had the ability to work in student government and decided to officially enter the race for the OTSU election in late January. He adds his motivation for running for president earlier this year was because he felt he wasn’t being represented as a student. He didn’t think that the student’s voice was involved in the decision-making process at committee meetings.

“It’s not that the previous presidents or executives have done a poor job,” Davis says.

He felt that he could do even more, such as changing the campus library’s drink and food policy, which has already been changed as of September. Students can now eat food or snacks while studying and doing assignments while in the library. Davis adds he wants to build on what the previous student union administration has done.

After Davis won the election, he didn’t feel the pressure of his new position until he sat in his office for the first time.

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Ontario Tech Student Union President, Owen Davis in the Student Union building’s board room while being interviewed. Photo credit: Dennis Price

Even though Davis is more than five months into his presidency, he already has a personal highlight of the year, which are the enhancements to the library. The upgrades to it include more seats and the renovated fireside reading room.

Nguyen says Davis brings passion to the organization.

“He has been a phenomenal president because he was able to learn and adapt quickly to his new role. He learned the ins and outs of the position in a short time,” Nguyen says.

One goal of Davis’ presidency is to build a safety committee called the ‘Public Safety Advisory Committee’ for the campus. The formation of this committee is a reaction to last year’s death of Ontario Tech student, Rhyss Glenfield, at the Simcoe-Conlin intersection. He adds that two additional incidents at the intersection also played a factor.

“So, I took the initiative with the assistant vice-president of student life (Olivia Petrie),” Davis explained. “We’re going to be addressing all those safety concerns on campus.”

Davis wants his legacy as OTSU president to be as someone who took all the student complaints and requests and did something about them, such as helping a student asks to start a new club. He wants students to know that he did as much as he could at the end of his term.