From the rooftop
A growing trend seems to be emerging this academic year in the way Western's administration deals with groups on and off campus and it's quite alarming it's Western's way or the highway.
After months of consultation between community members and the administration, the final product of a 400-bed residence was approved by London City Council last week with several minor changes made during the process but nothing close to a compromise with the community.
Residents of Tower Lane, the street closest to the residence, originally asked for the building to be built at another location. Administration said "no, this is the best spot for it." The neighbours accepted that the location was chosen but asked for changes to be made to the site plan of the building such as moving it farther West, away from the houses on the street and building it only four storeys tall. The building was approved at five storeys and a little farther West but not as far as the neighbours say it could be.
Granted, it has been a rush process for the administration, but that still is no excuse for alienating the university's closest neighbours. Meetings were held to consult with community members but little came as a result. One Tower Lane member even drew up totally new plans for a four-storey structure but they were discarded by administration. Sorry, forgot to mention the resident has a degree in architecture from Oxford.
The latest in efforts to push the plan through the purchase of 33 Tower Lane the house that will be most affected by the new residence's construction was something that was never mentioned originally and came up only after the site plan was approved. Sound a little bit underhanded?
By purchasing this house, administration is showing they will do anything to get their way. They didn't have to buy the house but why not spend a couple hundred thousand dollars and save some aggravation?
Other examples of administration's strong-arming have also surfaced throughout the year starting even before the fall semester did. Residents' councils and the University Students' Council were told over the summer by Housing and Food Services on a "for your information basis" that they would not be allowed to have buses to off-campus events during Orientation Week. No consultation, just "this is what we want and this is what you are going to do."
The faculty association's negotiations with administration for months came to no avail, forcing them to unionize. Now, that could have been the fault of either party or both but this is another situation where a compromise was not reached.
As the time to decide on tuition increases approaches, this trend continues. Several faculties will see deregulation next year and no ceiling on tuition, something that must have student input when it comes to setting these levels.