Volume 94, Issue 3

Friday, June 2, 2000


I'm running: DeCicco

SOGS left out in the cold
Privatization plans continue

Exploding tuition put on ice

London takes sixth in Canada

Top-notch prof search gets $9.6M

24 ways to know you're Canadian

London getting diesel powered buses

Arena shortage solved
City approves another rink

SOGS left out in the cold
Privatization plans continue

By Aaron Wherry & Mike Murphy
Gazette Staff

A recent meeting to discuss the privatization of universities was a little too private for some interested parties.

Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, Dianne Cunningham, was in London May 18 to discuss a variety of issues, including Ontario's plan to allow private universities in the near future. Although various groups were invited to attend, Western's Society of Graduate Students did not get an invitation.

"We asked for access. Essentially, they said 'You're not on the list'," said Fern Gauthier, president of SOGS. "It was so private they wouldn't let anyone know who was invited. Not even [Western President] Dr. Davenport."

When representatives from SOGS attempted to enter the meeting they were asked to leave by the Ontario Provincial Police, Gauthier explained.

Despite not getting a seat at the table, Gauthier said, SOGS will be adding privatization to the agenda of a future meeting with Cunningham. "We'd already had a consultation scheduled with her on the [June]16 to talk about graduate issues."

Gauthier said he sees many problems with the privatization of universities. Specifically, he said he felt it will set up the possibility of a two-tiered education system and public subsidies, in the form of student Ontario Student Assistance Program loans, will find their way into the coffers of public universities.

University's Student Council president Dave Braun said a group of 14, people from business, university administration and student sectors attended the meeting with the Minister.

Braun said he was disappointed with the lack of direct communication with the Minister during the meeting. "It was run by a professional facilitator. The Minister just sat on the other side and listened. So there wasn't that much interaction with the Minister," he said

Kerry Delaney, spokesperson for the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities , said the meeting was only one of about eight meetings to be held around the province, with interested parties wanting to discuss privatization of universities and other Ministry issues.

Delaney added all attempts were made to accommodate those who wished to attend but there was not enough room for everyone. "We are trying to get as many people and views [but] it's not possible to get everyone there," she said

In addition to the topic of private universities, quality assessment boards and consumer protection were also discussed, as hour long presentations were given on these issues.

Braun added he felt constrained during the meeting. "When someone got off topic the facilitator said, 'we're not here to discuss that now'," he said. "It's clear that the Minister's made her mind up. We're not going to make any radical changes but we can do our best to make it work."

Still, Braun said he felt the meeting had its benefits. "What was encouraging for me was that the Minister and her assistant were excited about talking to students."

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Copyright The Gazette 2000