Volume 91, Issue 23

Tuesday, October 7, 1997

frosh and go


Residence closet

The doors are closed and decisions are being made. Decisions affecting students and their overall experience at Western. So, it would seem only fair that students should play a part in this process – after all, they are the ones who have to deal with the outcome.

But once again, the administration has tried to go it alone. The new policy proposal made at last Thursday's Board of Governors meeting, to eliminate the availability of residence to Sophs and other student-volunteer positions, is just one recent example. And though it may seem like a drop in the pond for them, this decision has vast rippling effects.

First and foremost, the role of a Soph to students in residence must be examined. While residence advisors, who work for the administrative body of housing and food services, act as a service to students in need and must enforce disciplinary measures, the role of a Soph is much different. Sophs don't report to such an administrative body and therefore provide an entirely different role model for students in need of such a figure – especially in first year.

Think about it. What would orientation be without Sophs who provide enthusiastic leadership and encourage student involvement? The fact many Sophs live in residence to carry on this role throughout the entire year, makes their volunteer work indispensable. Those in administration who have never benefitted from a residence experience obviously would not know such a good thing, even when it's gone.

That is up to the student body to bring to their attention. But as it seems, the pleas made at the meeting by student representatives on the Board of Governors have virtually fallen on deaf ears. Students from residence councils were also not consulted. It appears the administration is set to go ahead with this policy decision without duly considering and weighing input from students.

The administration's argument used in favour of this policy is that being able to provide every first-year student a spot in residence is an excellent recruiting tool. This idea certainly worked out well this year but oops! – the administration didn't anticipate the overwhelming response – causing over 200 first-year students to be inconvenienced as the administration was forced to provide other means of accommodation. So much for guarantees.

And next year, Western can anticipate welcoming a whole new fresh-faced group of first-year students with a "guaranteed" spot in residence – but in exchange for what? An unbalanced sense of leadership? Unfortunately for the unsuspecting new arrivals, this is not a good trade-off.

The initiative taken by students, to raise awareness of this policy among Western's alumnui is a creative and positive response. Maybe the next time alumni is solicited by the university for donations of money, they will think twice about where their money is going.

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

Copyright The Gazette 1997