Volume 90, Issue 64

Friday, January 17, 1997

double talk



Yesterday's town hall meeting was like a bad episode of Jerry Springer – complete with a final thought given by USC president Dave Tompkins which left spectators aching for a converter to eagerly switch the channel.

Amid the many confused students in CentreSpot who were denied a peaceful lunch, members of the USC carried out this irksome forum in hopes of getting in touch with student perception on the issues which affect them.

Student perception – if they only knew.

Tompkins' plan to play devil's advocate and present a point of view which may not have been his own, backfired. As many students passing through the community centre caught only fragments of the debate – of which they had to strain themselves to hear due to constant annoying technical feedback – the picture they received was often entirely different from what the USC intended.

The result was a number of spectators coming away with an air of disillusionment in our pompous student politicians.

Although the concept of a town hall meeting to bridge the gap between the USC and Western students and open the floor for important debate is great in principle, in practice this meeting was poorly thought out.

Had this meeting been properly advertised, maybe spectators would have a clue as to the context and topics of the discussion. Instead, while audience members tried to register events as they unfolded, USC members found themselves running around having to explain what was really happening to those who were angrily getting up to leave.

The segment of debate which centred on differential tuition fees intensified the level of audience unrest. Medicine and dentistry students dominated the conversation, only to spread the alienation felt by those not part of these two faculties.

And the seats kept emptying.

At one point, discussion bounced from one USC-type to another – offering nothing to the audience they hadn't already heard.

And guess what Western? You can expect to see more of these USC-run town hall meetings as organizer, the USC's VP-communications Jerry Topolski promises to hold one per month for the rest of the year!

Let's just hope these people have the sense to make the most of this forum. What the USC must recognize is that students don't need the encouragement to get involved in these issues – they deal with them every day – and largely due to the decisions made by council themselves.

Let students have their voice – and let that be the final thought.

To Contact The Editorial Department: gazed@julian.uwo.ca