What is the Affordability Taskforce?

The Affordability Taskforce is a joint committee led by the OCAD Student Union and OCAD U Administration. The Taskforce is committed to finding viable solutions and compiling actionable resources to combat financial stress for OCADU Students through a number of initiatives and advocacy.

Through student feedback, funding, and strategic partnerships, the Affordability Taskforce implements new and strengthens existing short-term solutions, while simultaneously developing long-term strategy and advocacy to accommodate students in need of assistance. In 2022, the Affordability Taskforce acquired funding from OCAD University. The Student Experience Fund is currently being used by the various Sub-Committees for their projects.

Who is in the ATF?

Mehnaz Mia Lamia, Executive Director of Academic Affairs

Sabrina Benoit , Executive Director of Graduate Studies

Sarah Franzoi, Executive Director of Campaigns and Advocacy

Sina Hojatzadeh, Executive Director of Operations

Nancy Correia, Executive Director of Diversity and Equity 

Marine Musaelyan, Food Services Coordinator 

Deanne Fisher, Vice-Provost, Students & International

Alan Simms, Vice President, Finance & Administration

Miriam Kramer, Executive Director, Government & Community Relations, and Public Policy

The Sub-Committee

The Affordability Taskforce is divided into three sub-committees that aim to meet bi-weekly. The sub-committees were formed following a student survey canvasing the most pressing financial stresses for OCAD U students. These sub-committees include:

1. The Food, Materials & Student Experience Committee

This sub-committee seeks solutions and builds resources regarding food and material insecurities. The committee includes Deanne Fisher, Sina Hojatzadeh, Marine Musaelyan, Nancy Correia and Sarah Franzoi.

2. The Housing Committee

This sub-committee seeks solutions and builds resources to support students in housing concerns and student accommodation. The committee includes Alan Simms, Dillon Waldron, Sina Hojatzadeh and Sabrina Benoit.

3. The Tuition, Financial Aid & Employment Committee

This sub-committee seeks to alleviate mental and financial stress connected to tuition and other fees and payment options. The committee includes Miriam Kramer, Mehnaz Mia Lamia, Sina Hojatzadeh and Sabrina Benoit.

Affordability Taskforce Values

1. Student Engagement & Feedback

Student Engagement and Feedback are extremely important for the advocacy and initiatives that the Affordability Taskforce develops. The joint committee takes in feedback when necessary (through surveys circulated in the student body) and on a rolling basis. The latter is done through meetings with students, concerns raised by Student Senators, and through the contact form below.

2. Meaningful Employment

We understand meaningful employment on campus as employment opportunities that allow students to grow in their roles, create connections, and develop and practice core skills that are in demand in the job market. We advocate for jobs that are meaningful as this increases productivity and motivation, giving students a feeling of purpose and a sense of pride as they contribute to the greater OCAD U community.

Reports on current activities & extra projects

From The Food, Materials & Student Experience Committee

This committee develops viable solutions for tackling food and material insecurities on campus while bringing the OCAD U community together. Through the development of the SU’s Food Security Plan 2022-23, the Committee has successfully introduced a Community Freezer, alongside the already existing SU refrigerator and pantry at 100 McCaul.

The committee is currently focusing on a few sustainable long-term initiatives, including progressive food systems such as a Community Garden and an Indoor Vertical Gardening System. The committee has successfully installed their first pilot indoor gardening system in Lambert Lounge and have harvested our first "crop.” To help with the research phases, the committee has employed an international student Research Assistant.

Projects to-date:

Community Freezer (completed): This year, the Student Union advocated for food security on campus to lessen the anxiety of food barriers. Following the positive response to the Community Fridge investment, it was imperative that we build off that momentum with the introduction of a community freezer. The community fridge is key to building a stronger sense of community at OCAD post-quarantine centered around mutual aid. The freezer makes access to food easily approachable and less intimidating for students due to the visibility of food items. The funds used for this project was $4,122.

Community Garden and Vertical Food Gardens (in progress): The committee is working on a sustainable project to battle food insecurity on campus. In consideration and under development are long-term food initiatives such as a community garden and indoor vertical gardening spaces. These projects will also promote healthy food options and collaborative learning environments for OCAD students. The committee is in the process of building a prototype for the indoor gardening system and the Research and Development Assistant will help support the committee with the design and technical details.

Transportation (in progress): Following feedback from a Student Senator, the Affordability Taskforce is looking into ways to alleviate costs for students commuting to campus. So far, a university TTC pass has been ruled out as the TTC does not have flexible options and a shuttle bus is too expensive. The Affordability Taskforce is currently looking into PRESTO Vouchers, BikeShares, and other transportation services.

Emergency Food Support (complete): Since March 2020 and prior to the inception of the ATF, OCAD Student Union has fulfilled over 2,581 requests for emergency food support. The COVID-19 Emergency Food Support provided aid throughout the Fall 2022 term at a reduced capacity to support students with disabilities and those supporting immunocompromised individuals. Since striking the ATF, the funding of the COVID-19 Emergency Food Support comes partially from the Taskforce. The funds used for this project by the Taskforce are $4,500, which allowed the SU to continue fulfilling weekly requests during Fall 2022.

Student Art Fair (in progress)

From The Housing Committee

This committee is canvasing viable solutions for affordable student housing through partnerships and investments that are compatible with OCAD University’s budgetary restrictions. OCAD U admin is working on advocacy with the City of Toronto, Province of Ontario and Government of Canada to explore how students can be included in the definition of affordable housing, as well as ways that we could collaborate and leverage various existing programs to enable affordable student housing.

Projects to-date:

Purchasing a Building (in progress): The committee is exploring options for developing proximate affordable student housing. In the course of this, it assesses the parameters of what affordable housing means in the post-secondary context and a strategy that will be financially sustainable for the institution, as well as its students. This project links directly to OCAD U’s Strategic and Academic Plan that sets out establishing student residencies as a goal.

Student Housing Call (in progress): While affordable housing solutions are long-term projects, this committee is launching a Student Housing Project that will elicit lived experiences in accessing safe and affordable housing in the GTA and be used in our advocacy efforts. The project will provide participants with a one-time stipend that can assist with meeting monthly living expenses. Budget for this project is $5,000.

HOUSE Canada Partnership (completed): The committee explored a partnership with HOUSE Canada an incorporated non-profit dedicated to developing student-controlled and permanently affordable accommodations across Ontario. The committee did not deem HOUSE to be the right fit for a number of reasons, mainly that the partnership would entail a sizable student levy. The Student Union, however, has tabled a potential partnership with HOUSE for the future. Since HOUSE is a relatively new organization, the SU wants to ensure that the HOUSE Board and structure is functional and sustainable before continuing the conversation further.

From The Tuition, Financial Aid & Employment Committee

This committee is exploring ways to make tuition and fee payments more accessible for students. Additionally, the committee is strategizing how to increase financial aid for international students through strategic partnerships.

Projects to-date:

Guaranteed Tuition Model (in progress): The committee is in the process of setting up conversations with Brock University to explore whether their guaranteed tuition model will work for OCAD University. This structure allows students to have the same rate of tuition over all four years of their study, without being subject to increases that happen during this time frame.  

Tuition Research (in progress): The committee, with the assistance of the Student Monitor, is gathering information about what other universities around the world are doing to ensure that tuition fees and payments are accessible and flexible for students.

On Meaningful Employment

Since the formation of the Affordability Taskforce, we have hired two International Student Monitors—an Administrative Assistant and a Research Assistant for The Food, Materials & Student Experience Committee.

We therefore aim to protest against the Board of Governor’s decision of raising international tuition by 3-5% for 2023-24 and following years. This can only be achieved with your support. Please fill out the survey and share your experience with us!


For more information, questions, requests, and feedback—please reach out to Camila Salcedo at ocadsu@ocadsu.org

Additional Resources

Here is a list of external bursaries, scholarships, and awards students at OCAD U might be eligible for. Please read the eligibility criteria for each VERY carefully before deciding to apply. In this channel you will also find a couple of popular scholarship search engines. For internal scholarships and bursaries at OCAD U, please consult Awards Spring.