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Caught on Campus
Davenport addresses USC
By John Intini
Western president Paul Davenport was forced to perform verbal gymnastics last night, while answering questions from members of the University Students' Council.
On a number of occasions Davenport, who was the third member of administration to visit the council this year, told the student representatives the provincial government has yet to provide information regarding the operational grants they plan to distribute.
"We're urging the government this is the year to push [grants] up," he said, adding over the next 10 years, experts have shown demand for a university education are expected to increase by 40 per cent based on the double cohort, among other demographic issues. "We can't deliver quality simply on the basis of tuition increases."
Huron College councillor Chris Sinal asked the president his opinion of how well the general public is aware of the double cohort the enrollment problem universities will face when high schools eliminate Grade 13. "The understanding is not great but it is spreading like wild-fire," Davenport responded, adding the support of students is necessary to insure this possibly destructive issue is dealt with properly.
In response to VP-education Mark Kissel's question regarding setting long term tuition rates, Davenport went back to the issue of not having the numbers. "We don't know the operating grants for this year, never mind next year," he said.
Faculty of engineering president Jason Goodhand asked why the four engineers suspended earlier this year for vandalizing campus residences were said to have agreed to pay for the damages when, in fact, Goodhand said, they were not even allowed into the discussion. In response, Davenport said based on the severity of the actions, the final decision the university reached was a fair one.
During the discussion, Davenport also put his support behind the faculty of arts, explaining all students need a liberal arts grounding in order to be successful.
He added efforts must be made to increase enrollment in that faculty.
The issue of the school's reputation was raised by Rory Capern, a representative for Western's Richard Ivey School of Business, who asked the president his view on the Maclean's annual university rankings.
Davenport said it is vital for students to look at the indicators set by the national magazine, adding although a number are of concern, many have little if any relevance. "A number of the indexes [Maclean's] uses do not even make sense," he said.