Volume 90, Issue 88

Wednesday, March 12, 1997



Protest expands

By Karena Walter
Gazette Staff

The virtual protest staged by Western students has entered into its second phase with new tactics and a campaign information blitz launched yesterday.

"There's very few ways to get [Western's president Paul] Davenport's attention," said Dave Tompkins, University Students' Council president, as he addressed about 120 students gathered in the University Community Centre atrium.

The USC began a virtual sit-in March 6 to protest rising tuition. Students can log onto a website and send a protest email to Davenport.

However, Tompkins said the council's demands were not being met following a meeting with Davenport Monday.

Tompkins outlined reasons for the protest at the gathering and explained council's six demands of the administration. "When bumping into an average student at least one of these things will hit home," he said.

The requests include a freeze on tuition, increased representation of students on Western's governing bodies, an end to the push for deregulation, open administrative committee meetings, a student endowment fund and a continuation of the current orientation program.

"We have to get this information out to the rest of the student body," said VP-communications, Jerry Topolski, who asked the group to distribute 2,000 pamphlets about the protest. "Hopefully, we can spread the message about what's going on."

All comments submitted to council from upset students will be sent to members of Western's Board of Governors and Senate, Topolski said.

Another initiative council is taking is to videotape students' messages and send them to every television station across the province. "One thing this university fears more than anything else is bad publicity," Topolski said. TV Western will set up cameras tomorrow at noon on the concrete beach and students can record their frustrations.

"We have to show [Davenport] that students are no longer going to be numbers at this university," Topolski said.

Student senator Scott Graham suggested students also jam Davenport's fax machine with messages – an idea that received approval from those gathered in the atrium.

Sydenham representative Holly Campbell had a message for all students who attended the information-gathering. "Could you please prove the administration wrong when they say students can't stick up for themselves?"

Throughout the week Davenport has said he sympathizes with the necessity for student aid and is actively pursuing an improved loan program. He has also said he will not get involved in any protest decision students make as it is not his role.

To Contact The News Department: gaznews@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997