Volume 90, Issue 85

Thursday, March 06, 1997



Student demands USC reform

Re: USC elections

To the Editor:

Another year is slowly winding down at Western, but not without the annual USC elections. This year was no exception at the ballot box – another dismal turnout. As a remedy, at least one candidate's platform consisted of pledges to make the USC work better or make it more open to the students. Any student who has been at Western for over a year can confirm that these proposals work about as well as the federal government's job creation policy.

Whether it is a longer election day or cyber-voting, the return is constantly bad. While student apathy is always a problem, the low turnout is only a symptom of a much larger dilemma involving university politics. I agree that student representation at Western is an essential and fundamental part of this university, but I disagree at how it has evolved. At some point campus politics has passed over its appropriate mandate and has become a machine that no longer has a clear vision for campus needs.

USC portfolios have become either so vague or demanding that keeping in step with important day-to-day student concerns is impossible. A primary example would have been to ask all the USC candidates how many of them would be attending full-time during their term. The bigger-is-better style of the USC has made the council lose its best tool for confronting student issues – being a student.

USC elections have also fallen into another political trap – targeting issues that cannot possibly change. Does any student realistically think that a USC president has any hope of persuading the provincial cabinet to reconsider its decision on tuition increases? I am not discouraging acting out on such decisions, just attack it through the proper forum. Bombard the education minister with letters, petitions and faxes. Get your local MPP to bring up the issue in Parliament and most importantly, make it an issue at election time. Use the avenues that fit the issues.

The current and future councils should take a deep look at the organization and presentation of student government. Instead of the recycled, quick-fix approach, an open dialogue on student government – at which level representation can be brought in – with the most equitable and efficient manner, must be looked at. Maybe a more down to earth and focused students' council would be the solution to poor voter turnout. It can't hurt to try.

Trevor Bingler
Political Science III

To Contact The Letters Department: gazoped@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997