Filling big chairs
In the midst of the hustle and bustle of mid-semester activity on campus, you can hear the whisper of candidates vying for a seat on the Board of Governors. You can hear them if you really want to listen.
And you should. The Board of Governors is the highest governing body for the university and student representation within this body is scarce. There are 28 members on the Board, including the president of the university and the mayor of London, but only three are student seats, two undergraduate and one graduate. With this in mind, doesn't it seem obvious that the strength of this representation is an issue of prime importance especially when the Board makes crucial decisions regularly which affect the overall experiences of students at Western?
Take the recent issue of giving Sophs the boot from residences next year. This was a BOG decision. However without the student voice to react to this policy, the decision would have fallen into the laps of students unchallenged. Although it was still passed, student Board representatives made their opposition heard.
Yet year after year, voter turnout for elected seats on the Board of Governors is extremely poor. Only eight per cent of eligible voters came out last year.
Why is that? Why do students speak out when decisions are made which affect them and which they don't agree with, but when it comes time to make a very important decision of their own, by choosing their representation, they are nowhere to be found?
Is it because they don't feel comfortable voting when they are not educated on the issues and ignorant as to the function of the Board? If this is the case, it is the obligation of the voter to educate themselves. Today's open forum in the University Community Centre atrium is a good place to start. Ask the questions you want answers for. Give your own voice a try and then vote for those candidates you believe are likely to listen and address these concerns in their new positions.
The candidates also have an obligation to speak to their voters. They must promote themselves and make an effort to educate students on the issues at hand. And considering these people must represent the student voice among the big shots of university administration, alumni and municipal government, they have a pretty significant job.
Vote for those with the ability to make their voice heard. Because if they don't have the ability to speak to the students, how can they effectively face a Board who have their own interests in mind and where they are vastly outnumbered?