Volume 92, Issue 48

Friday, November 27, 1998



University Vendors' Council

Today is national Buy Nothing Day and those around campus might not be aware of it.

And why? Not because of the lack of attempt by the Oxford Famine Relief, a student club on campus, to bring the event any attention.

Last year, Oxfam staged a peaceful and thoughtful day of recognition in the atrium of the University Community Centre. The group played board games, ate homemade snacks, handed out flyers and demonstrated to passersby some of the alternatives to consumerism. Apparently, some UCC merchants had a problem with this display.

And why shouldn't they? The UCC is a place of business, where consumerism is the name of the game. A large sign proclaiming "Buy Nothing Day" is purely contradictory and harmful to business.

And the University Students' Council has listened to the poor helpless cries of the vendors.

The USC, namely VP-campus issues Pete Hill, is putting vendors on the same level as students. It's called the University Community Centre because it's intended for use by the university community. Vendors are not part of the university community, but rather the corporate community, whose interests are based solely on grabbing up students' cash. They are present to provide a service – nothing more – and should not be allowed to dominate over the student voice.

So, the compromise is to allow Oxfam to set up a booth in the atrium for Hurricane Mitch relief and distribute flyers on the side. But what would they have done with the space if the hurricane had not happened?

If it's not bad enough that the UCC, a student- funded building, is being commandeered in the interests of consumerism, a student club is also being denied its rights to expression because of those interests.

What would happen, for example, if another club wanted to promote a national day of healthy eating in the atrium. Pete Hill would have a hard time trying to find a "compromise" to appease CentreSpot vendors fearful of losing business over a large sign which read "Eat healthy and live longer." Such a statement, much like, "Buy Nothing Day," is in direct conflict with CentreSpot's fast food outlets.

Perhaps the USC would be more supportive of a "Healthy Eating Day" because it wouldn't affect their bottom line as much.

The USC is censoring the voice of students. Even though Oxfam will still be allowed to distribute flyers, the compromise offered by the USC is does not represent a true meaning to the word.

Just which side is the USC on? This question has certainly been answered.

To Contact The Editorial Department: gazette.editor@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998