Ahh... the sweet smell of success.
After months of diligent, well-organized and persistent protest, students have convinced Western President Paul Davenport and his crew of the importance of a substantial period of time for an Orientation Week. After the administration had persuaded themselves into believing orientation was merely a week's worth of jubilant partying, which hurt Western's rating in the annual Maclean's survey, they now see it as at least partially beneficial to the students' learning experience for now.
While the deal is not yet long-term, this was a huge step in the right direction for both O-week and, more importantly, the student voice at Western.
Congratulations to those involved. For a generation accused of nothing but indifference and apathy, Western students, alumni and concerned bodies proved all the pessimists wrong. Strong and united protest is still an effective voice of change.
Now, the question is whether or not this very positive trend will continue. While O-week is undoubtedly an integral part of a student's development here at Western, even more important and hard-hitting issues loom on the horizon. Tuition hikes, axed programs, inadequate services, deregulation and corporatization of the university are just a few of the very serious issues facing Western. Without a voice of protest, these issues will likely proceed in a way which could prove quite harmful to those affected. What do the students plan to do about it?
While protests regarding such issues have notoriously received a luke-warm response from the student population in the past, hopefully it was done out of hopelessness. Perhaps Western students believed all of their picketing, letter writing, sit-ins, flyers and advertising were merely falling on deaf ears. For the sake of this institution's future, we can only hope this was the case.
After watching countless numbers of ineffective demonstrations over the years, students couldn't help but feel their quests were fruitless. But could this event have single-handedly changed the way students react to the issues which face them directly? Not likely.
The best possible thing this successful protest could have done is inspire future protesters into believing their voices are important and that they too can make a change. When valid points are communicated in an intelligible and hard-hitting way, at least they can feel like their making a difference.
After all, that's why we should be here. Taking up space is for the furniture.