Don't ruin it for future Mustangs
Re: O-Week changes on the way, Feb.4
To the Editor:
The depths to which the gurus at Stevenson-Lawson have descended regarding residence life is truly disappointing. Orientation Week has undergone so many changes since the animal house days of the '80s, it is difficult to find justification in the latest move to limit the number of rez council execs and Sophs in the residence system. Surely it can not be a lack of space for first-year students the number of students coming to Western with higher secondary school marks is evident, but to destroy the fabric of residence life by limiting their interaction with upper-year students does not contribute to a tolerant, open and interactive campus community.
When I entered Delaware Hall in September 1990, I was unsure of what to expect. I came from high school with its cliques, prejudices and easy-going life to a university in a new city, with people of all ages, experiences and backgrounds and I was looking for an education. Part of that education was realized through life in the campus community around me. Unlike many other students, my own residence advisor did become a great friend, despite his sometimes paternalistic enforcement of noise and alcohol rules. My Sophs on the other hand, provided us with guidance, leadership, camaraderie and support.
The other second and third-year students were equally important in creating an image of Western and providing us first-hand experience of the real Western. They showed us the ropes like a platoon leader helping the baby-faced GI's through the jungles of Vietnam (at least that's how campus can appear to a fresh-faced 18-year-old). Rez Council provided structure to the daily grind events, activities and interaction beyond the hallway of my third-floor wing.
To weaken this system of Sophs and rez councils that has done so much for so many students (and with so many positive changes over the last decade) is to do a grave injustice to the campus community. And Susan Grindrod's intimation that the university will move toward a more faculty-based orientation does not make things any better. The option for a common first-year program means choices across faculties. Interaction with students of other disciplines in particular, through residence life and especially through the eyes of upper-year students, is a key element of finding direction in what can sometimes be an otherwise directionless environment. Residence life means interaction, learning, the breaking down of barriers and the opening of one's eyes to the reality of social differences.
Celebrating these differences is what allows students to grow in and outside the classroom. There is a new recruitment slogan for Western postered across Toronto. The slogan reads 'Major in Yourself.' That strikes a chord for me and sends a signal about finding yourself at university. Community life from residence through to graduation is a key element of a positive undergraduate experience. For the sake of the future, let's not forget the past and the lives it has shaped.
Class of '94