Volume 90, Issue 85

Thursday, March 06, 1997



EDITORIAL: Virtually nothing?

Western student politicians are encouraging students to virtually take a stand while sitting down.

The University Students' Council voted last night to stage a virtual sit-in – an attempt to encourage the administration to endorse six proposals which include a tuition freeze. The sit-in involves students emailing Paul Davenport, Western's president, with their concerns.

While the concept is unique and may attract local media attention, the effectiveness of such a tactic is questionable.

Recently, we have seen a growing emergence of sit-ins across the province. Six student groups in Ontario have opted to physically occupy their universitiy's administrative offices. Although the 60's revival-style protests have resulted in few changes, there has been little doubt about the passion of those who have protested.

University students who want to enact change need to have strong voices. Western's proposal is a couch potato sit-in and appears to be a whimping out from a real protest. Some may even say it is a virtual cop-out.

What's to say the administration will not give students virtual zero tuition increases?

As well, not all proposals are feasible. Both the administration and the USC have admitted the proposal to increase student representation on all government bodies to 30 per cent is not effective. Why not protest for something that can be changed.

Alas, considering the number of students who voted on-line in last month's presidential elections (34), it is strange that the students' council would rely on the willingness of students to use the Internet to promote such an important issue.

There is also the possibility of students using aliases when mailing their concepts, which could make students look less credible. Dead presidents, pets, athletes, politicians, rock stars and Betty Crocker are sure to send email to Dr. D. in the near future.

Then there is the strong possibility that Davenport will simply email Western's opinions directly into the trash in the format of an advanced technological rejection.

But the one saving grace this protest has is that it's innovative. By breaking new ground, the council may attract more media interest than had they simply jumped on the sit-in bandwagon and chanted "Hell no, we won't go!"

This is an opportunity for Western students to show their concerns about educational issues, but other than clogging up Davenport's email lines, it may not be overly-effective.

Virtual reality.

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

Copyright The Gazette 1997