By Brendan Howe
Starting in the new year, Western students will see some major structural changes to the University Students' Council if all goes according to plan.
To fulfill a campaign promise, USC President Ryan Parks introduced a plan Wednesday which would bid farewell to the VP-communications and VP-student issues positions. They would be replaced with a VP-internal and VP-external in this spring's vice-presidential elections.
Parks said the new organizational structure would shift several responsibilities within the organization. The VP-internal position, which would replace the current VP-communications, would shift its focus towards student issues and events taking place around campus.
Currently the VP-communications is responsible for promotions, USC media outlets and publications such as the Westernizer and Student Directory.
The VP-external position would transform the present VP-student issues position into a lobbying and academic issues portfolio, Parks said. Its present structure includes external affairs, academic and equity issues. He added the president would take on some extra responsibilities and some positions would be created and eliminated to help facilitate the change.
The restructuring hinges on the approval of council in a vote scheduled for the start of December.
Parks said one of the important changes in the restructuring is the changing role the USC president would have. "We want the president to have more of a focus in the London community and more involvement in governance issues on campus," he said.
A communications officer would be added to the presidential portfolio to assume some of the responsibilities of the dissolved VP-communications position. The president does not currently have a defined portfolio. Day-to-day operation of media outlets and publications would be assumed by USC assistant general manager Gerry Shellington.
VP-communications James Deans said the extent of the changes were a shock to him but the new portfolios would allow next year's VPs to do a lot more. "I don't think I've had as much room to start independent projects [this year] as I would have liked to," he said.
"These changes make us more similar to other student governments around the country," said Sam Castiglione, VP-student issues. He added it is a shift to a more standardized approach.
USC general manager Jim Walden said this is not a new idea but one that has been discussed for several years. He added it is an adjustment due to the increased responsibilities of the USC.