Volume 91, Issue 48

Friday, November 21, 1997

party poop


Silent summit

On Wednesday, the organizer of an education summit in Toronto apologized for not inviting student groups to participate.

Thanks. So when are we all getting together for the next summit?

The conference, "Ensuring Excellence: A Summit on the Future of Ontario Universities," featured some of Canada's top brass from major banks, corporations, the provincial government and universities.

But somehow, while making up the guest list of over 100 participants, organizers let student groups slip through the invites of presenters.

In reaction, a group of students from a national student lobby group, the Canadian Federation of Students, raised a fuss, caused an inconvenience for the attendants who had to switch rooms and ultimately, nine students were arrested for trespassing.

Although a protest may not have been the most effective way for students to get their message of anti-privatization across, they were at least heard –briefly. The whole commotion could have been avoided, had organizers thought to include students in the first place.

The question is: how could students not be included in the first place? How could a conference about the future of Ontario universities not include the people attending those universities?

Western's VP- student issues for the University Students' Council, Sam Castiglione, who attended the meeting, was invited to speak after the lunch break when someone he had been talking to suggested it might be a good idea to hear from a student. While it is great he was able to get a word in edgewise, the gesture was an afterthought.

But should students be surprised they were not on the speakers' list? Looking at events on Western's campus over the past few years would indicate that students are often segregated from decision-making processes, whether it was when administration decided to limit upper-year students from residence or when voting down a motion to give students a greater voice on the university's highest governing body.

There are provincial student lobby groups which spend vast amounts of time forming policies about student issues and put great effort into coming up with affective solutions to problems existing within the education system – problems that people may not even realize exist if they are not sitting in a classroom or borrowing money for tuition.

If there is to be any real discussion on the future of education in this, or any other province, students must be consulted and they must be allowed time to speak. That is all the protesters at the summit wanted. A voice.

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

Copyright The Gazette 1997