Senate narrowly rejects student budget
By Sabrina Carinci
The latest debate over tuition hikes hit a brick wall last Friday when Western's Senate narrowly voted against a motion presented by students.
The motion, which proposed drafting an alternative model budget reflecting a five per cent increase in tuition fees, was rejected by a vote of 26-25.
As a result, the Senate Committee on University Planning will not consider drafting a second budget model. Instead SCUP will bring a single budget to Senate for its approval, reflecting an average 10.8 per cent tuition increase.
"I think it's unfortunate," said University Students' Council President Ryan Parks. "The Senate voted against an option, they voted against information."
VP-academic Greg Moran was pleased with the end result of the vote and felt students had put together a strong case which had earned the respect of the Senate. "I think it was a good debate which dealt with a very important issue, however, decreasing tuition fees and a quality education are simply not compatible at this time," he said.
Senator and associate professor of journalism David Spencer said he attended the meeting as both a parent and faculty member. His vote against the motion, however, was based on his 25 years of experience. "[I have] not lived through one year where there hasn't been a budgetary crisis you can't deliver a quality education to students without the resources," he said.
Parks told senators he felt not enough attention or time had been given to the tuition issue in recent months. He said he met in February with Moran and university President Paul Davenport where the main topic of discussion was student aid, not the implications of a tuition increase.
James Deans, USC VP-communications, also said he was disappointed at the lack of time allocated for discussion of the tuition debate. "I'm upset that two hours is all that 25,000 students get." Deans added he will not be promoting Western to potential students precisely because of this issue.
In response to both Parks' and Deans' concerns about the February meeting, Davenport said the administration had put a lot of time into the topic and did not want people to think otherwise. "There is a feeling of passion here because we feel our institution is at risk."
Many members of the Student Caucus on Governance composed of student senators and Board of Governors members also expressed concern over a nine-page rebuttal which appeared in senators' packages written by Moran and VP-administration Peter Mercer, saying it was an insult.
Student senator Chris McCreery said he believed the response was written in a doomsday-like scenario which made the situation appear worse than it really is.