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Report gets council's consent
By Mike Murphy
The voice of youth spoke Wednesday, as the University Students' Council's First Year Student Caucus presented its first annual report to council.
The caucus, which includes 14 freshmen USC members, offered recommendations on various student issues.
According to Perry Monaco, VP-campus issues for the USC, and co-chair of the caucus, this was the caucus' second year of operation the first in which it published a report.
"The idea was to get first-year students into a room with the president and vice-president. Last year, they just sat in a room and bitched and complained about some things and after the meeting, it was forgotten. This year we actually made them produce something," Monaco said.
Monaco added he considers the report a big step forward for the caucus. "It's really important the USC continues to listen to specialized groups within the Western community."
While Monaco stressed the report's value lies chiefly in the inexperience of its authors, he also said the caucus may not be the best commentator on issues such as the double cohort, which will see an increase in university applications when the OAC year of high school is eliminated.
"The documentation we gave them was complicated and wordy. But to their credit, they sorted through all the rhetoric and got something out of it," he stated.
Monaco added grappling with the double cohort gave the students a valuable opportunity to familiarize themselves with an issue that will effect them down the road.
Huron College councillor Chris Sinal said he was also impressed by the report. "It blew me away," he said. "I was on caucus last year and I would never have imagined anything like this coming out."
Sinal said the caucus' recommendation to alert students to the price of Orientation Week kits before arriving move-in day, was an excellent idea. Sinal was also grateful for its candid criticism of liaisons between main campus and affiliated colleges. "It says that affiliates have no idea of what's going on. That's a check on me," Sinal said. "At least I know that as much as I'm already doing, I have to move my butt even more."
Sara Chan, social sciences councillor, also approved of the group. "It automatically engages them with USC issues. It also causes them to go out and speak to other first-year students and inform them of the issues."
As for the report's suggestions on how to deal with administrative problems such as the double cohort, Sinal said some suggestions lacked insight, or proposed initiatives already undertaken.
However, he said he thought freshman familiarity with complex issues was impressive in itself. "It shows that first-years aren't ignorant of the really important things that are going on here," he said.
Julie Harvey, Essex Hall representative and editor of the report, said she's confident council will heed some of the caucus' advice.
"I realize things aren't going to happen overnight, but I think some recommendations will be acted on, if not this year, then probably next year."