Admin agrees to restore O-week
By Becky Somerville
After weeks of recent protest and student activism concerning a shortened Orientation Week, Western's University Students' Council and senior administration reached an agreement yesterday for a Monday move-in day.
Members of the USC Board of Directors met at the bargaining table Oct. 9 with Western President Paul Davenport, VP-academic Greg Moran, VP-administration Peter Mercer and registrar Roma Harris to discuss the fundamental arguments behind the USC's plight to salvage O-week.
Ultimately, the talks between USC President Ian Armour and Davenport lead to a proposal from Davenport who recommended a Tuesday move-in day with a five-year lock-in to replace the established Wednesday move-in day.
Armour took the proposal to Wednesday's USC meeting whereupon the council negotiated the position in confidence. "They voted overwhelmingly to reject the proposal and to continue to pursue a Monday move-in," Armour said.
In a meeting yesterday morning to negotiate a counter-proposal, talks between Armour and Davenport reached a conclusion and Davenport agreed to a Monday move-in, although he would not agree to a five-year guarantee.
"It's my hope that Monday will stay the move-in day," Davenport said of his refusal to commit to a long-term agreement.
Moran said the new Orientation Week situation is a stable one. "I don't think any of us feel that we'll have to go back on this again," he said. "I don't want to constantly be fighting a battle about O-week."
Davenport explained administration had reconsidered O-week after the students had raised points and arguments which administration had not considered. "Student leaders effectively made the point that a Wednesday move-in was impractical for students and their parents on logistical grounds," he said.
"We listened," Moran said. "If the argument is a good argument, a solid argument, it's important that previous positions be reconsidered."
Armour explained the collaboration of students, alumni and the USC made a point and proved to administration that O-week was something which needed to be preserved.
"[Wednesday] night the USC took a stance and that stance was that we weren't going to back down on something we truly believed in," he said. "Council gave me a directive and I followed it. I pushed for Monday and we got it."
Although Armour fruitlessly urged Davenport to consent to a five-year lock-in, Armour said he was pleased the students got what they wanted and if the issue of O-week arises again next year, Western is prepared to deal with it.
SzeJack Tan, orientation officer for the USC, said although he was happy about the victory for the student voice, he was sorry the deal was not long-term. "We wanted to see a long-term deal and until we do, the issue is not dead."
Tan added he hoped the end of apathy at Western was near and felt the progress made on O-week will encourage students to begin the fight on tuition.
"Thanks to the emails, petitions and alumni support that we were getting, I think we really had [the administration] on the ropes," Tan said. "They're saying they're listening to students, but we made ourselves heard this time."