PRAVDA - Address from the President

November 11, 1996.

A NEW PICTURE today for everyone, and I hope you like it. Last week’s photo was directed at some individuals on campus that don’t think I’m a sexy man, and specifically stated that they didn’t want to see me in a bikini. I know there were individuals that found the last picture offensive, and I’m sorry about that - there was no malicious or disrespectful intent - there just wasn’t time to get a picture of me in a bikini, and we improvised.

I WANT A WHOPPER can often be heard coming from my office. Although they’re not my favourite burger, they’re still yummy, cheap, and when it comes right down to it, I like it my way. Just for the record, my way is a regular whopper, hold the pickle. And until I actually just wrote that last sentence, I didn’t clue in to the sexual innuendo. That may explain why I’ve been the victim of the occasional Burger King snicker. However, this has absolutely nothing to do with today’s address - except that today’s topic is indeed a ‘whopper’.

A LESSON on campus governance may be the last thing you want to hear right now. In fact, some of you are in class and reading this to escape a lesson. Shame on you. Pay attention in class. You’re paying over 10 cents a minute to be there, so read this address later. Now for the lesson. The USC is your main representative student council, and you may have a residence and faculty council as well, but there are in fact two main governing bodies that are responsible for the entire university. Those two bodies are the Board of Governors and the Senate.

THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS is the mother of all decision making bodies at Western. The Board has the final say on a variety of issues, and some decisions made by the Senate or the USC have to get final approval from the Board. In short, the Board makes all the major legal, contractual and financial decisions for Western. The Senate focuses more on policies and Academic issues. For example, the decision to set our ancillary fees last year was made by the Board, while the decisions to make Med/Syd coed, shorten orientation week, and develop new course-professor evaluations were made by the Senate. Both of these bodies make important decisions that directly affect our day-to-day life.

STUDENT REPRESENTATIVES sit on both the Board and the Senate. On the Board, undergraduate students have 2 out of 30 seats (6.7%) while on the Senate, undergraduates have 12 out of 90 seats (13.3%). Students are unfairly represented on both bodies, and deserve more seats.

Please take the time to read the "Things Haven’t Changed?" ad at the bottom of this page.

(Yes, I know the ad isn't on the web page, but it will be soon.)

THE UWO ACT is actually a provincial law. This law has lots of juicy stuff in it (if you happen to find law things juicy) but one of the most significant parts of the Act is where it determines the composition of the Board and the Senate. So without hammering this point to death, the act is important. In the fine print of the Act, it says that the Act must be reviewed within 15 years of the date of enactment. 1982 + 15 = 1997. So this review process was started early 1996, and a committee was struck. The committee had 12 members on it, and only one of those members is a student.

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKED down the door as we eagerly made oral and written submissions to the UWO Act committee last spring. We were screaming for fairer (and increased) student representation on the Board, the Senate and their sub-committees. Furthermore, we called for better accountability measures and a better flow of communication between students and the bodies. After the submissions, all we could do was wait. On October 22nd, the waiting ended.

DISAPPOINTED and frustrated, I read the draft final report from the committee, which said no changes were necessary to the Act. All our fighting, and all our hope was shattered in one document. The reasons the committee cited for not opening up the act were completely unacceptable, some were uneducated, and the whole process was very patronizing. In fairness to the committee there were a few good minor recommendations, but they were only baby steps, when we needed leaps and bounds. I made a final submission to the committee last Tuesday urging them to reconsider and make changes to the Act, for if the act is not changed now, it never has to be reviewed again. So why did I tell you all this? Because this is important, and the next move in our chess game could be a crucial one.

A CHECKMATE is still very possible, because even though the committee has denied our requests, we still may have some options. Because the Act is a piece of provincial legislature, we could very well change the Act by lobbying the government and applying political pressure. Now I’m not saying that you should start signing petitions and grabbing placards, we’re going to have to wait and see how everything plays out, but I want you to keep an eye out for this issue in the future. We should be prepared - we don’t want to get caught with our pants down, holding our pickle.

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