Talking in circles
By Sara Marett
With hopes of forming a united student voice, representatives of universities and colleges from across Ontario met in Barrie late August for the first Roundtable of Ontario Schools. The meeting proved to be an effective forum for discussion, but produced no immediate plans of action.
The purpose of the conference was for schools to rise above political affiliation and unite in an effort to bring a stronger student voice to the provincial government, said Sam Castiglione, University Students' Council VP-student issues and Western's representative at the meeting.
"Western really wanted to address the issue of governance in hopes to improve the number of student representatives on our Board of Governors," Castiglione said, referring to the two student members of the BOG at Western. "Unfortunately, our agenda wasn't dealt with to the extent we anticipated."
Other issues addressed at the conference were student aid, student life and services on campus, government funding and tuition fees, added David Young, president of the University of Windsor Students' Alliance.
Young said the roundtable concept has great potential and he is confident another meeting in January will result in a more detailed plan of action. "It was the first time in a long time a large group of students actually sat down and talked," he said, adding now that issues have been addressed, student leaders can work on the next stage sending a united message to the provincial government about needed changes to post-secondary education.
It may be difficult for both colleges and universities to form a united front when we may disagree on certain issues, Castiglione said, adding the January meeting must be more successful in moving forward with a plan of attack. "Together we could run a very strong media campaign but lobbying is more difficult with different agendas."