Council's $13,000 man
By Karena Walter
The University Students' Council voted overwhelming last night to donate $13,000 to the Education Party of Canada to cover costs of running a student candidate in the upcoming federal election.
The money will be used for advertising, start-up costs, signs and phone bills among other things.
The party was created by USC president-elect Ryan Parks, who included the idea in his platform when he ran for the position. "It is our attempt to seriously win the riding of London North Centre," Parks said. Michael Rubinoff, a social science councillor, is the party's candidate.
Parks said the newly-elected Board of Directors and the present Board came to a unanimous agreement that the $13,000 figure was a reasonable amount.
Justin Lalonde, a social science councillor, said the initiative is one way for students to finally see what council is doing for them."This is the best chance we have to raise some eyebrows and ruffle some feathers."
But social science councillor Nick Iozzo spoke against the motion and said students he has talked with think it is hard to justify spending the money at a time when the majority of Western students will not be in London. As well, he said students have suggested the money may be spent better in other areas.
Council President Dave Tompkins said he thought the amount was a lot of money but if council is planning to solicit money from other sources without financially supporting the party itself it will not send a positive signal. "If we go to other groups they're going to ask 'How much did the USC give'?"
Pete Hill, an arts councillor, added verbally agreeing to run a candidate without monetary support will kill the campaign. As well, one way students will be able to show they support the idea, whether they are in town or not, is by giving part of the money that went to their student fees to the cause.
VP-finance Chris Keith said council should be the founders of new initiatives. Every investment has some risk but there is a net benefit in this, he said.
But Gina Bassett, a former social science representative, said she has interviewed students and although many support the initiative they do not agree with giving funds.
Councillors are hoping the information-based campaign will attract national media-attention for student issues. Although Western belongs to provincial and federal student lobby groups which are critical about policies, the media does not focus on them because they are not running candidates, said VP-student issues Chris Walsh.
The party will ask other universities' councils for verbal and written support and possibly $200-$300, Parks said. However, there is not enough time to ask other councils for substantial monetary donations because there is not enough time to hammer out policy with the schools. The federal election is expected to be called for June.