Volume 94, Issue 70
Friday, January 26, 2001
2001 USC: A mediocre odyssey
It's report card time again, boys and girls.
DAVE BRAUN - President
"I'm very proud of our strong achievements this year."
Dave Braun makes this statement with his patented presidential smile, as he reflects on some of the achievements he and the University Students' Council Board of Directors have accomplished to date.
The security of O-Week, halting the Student Code of Conduct, the BookStore expansion, and taking control of the Student Endowment Fund, as well as creating the USC alumni scholarship plan, have been some of the highlights during his term. "There hasn't been a moment that I have wanted to be doing anything else," he said.
However, many have felt Braun's time in office has been indistinguishable and has come up short more often than not. Others have said that although Braun did not make any mistakes during his term, no new initiatives were taken outside of fluff campaign promises and the pursuance of trivial internal council issues.
Braun has also run into problems with his role. Deciding whether he could speak on behalf of council or not, has occurred a few times, resulting in a backing away from stickier issues.
The prez made a poor judgment call and should have really stepped in during alleged Board of Governors and Senate election infractions. This resulted in the delay of the emergency meeting the USC called to deal with the incident until he got back into town.
In the end, the real question that Braun has solidified coming out of this presidency is what does the USC president truly do? Hopefully the incoming president will figure it out.
ANDREA BOULAY - VP-campus issues
The campus peacekeeper, VP-campus issues portfolio is a difficult one to evaluate because it deals so much with one-on-one student situations.
However Andrea Boulay has managed to stay out of the headlines during her time in office, something her peers might say equals a successful term as VP-ci.
"I wish I'd had more time to get to more people, to more individual people," she said, adding she wished there could be four of her on the job. Having said that, Boulay sometimes tended to be invisible on campus and seemed to lack confidence in her point of view at times. 'Coming Out Week' was a complete bust with one lonely table in the Atrium and no new ideas.
But the VP did handle some of the cultural protests on campus quite well, especially during the early conflict between the Jewish Students' Union and the Muslim Student Association.
Boulay should also be commended for, what she would say is her proudest achievement the creation of the USC Food Bank, which allows every student the access to food on a strictly confidential basis. "It's been more stressful than expected, but I wouldn't trade it for the world," she said.
In the end, Boulay ranked relatively well for a growing VP-ci portfolio, and many feel the outgoing Boulay has left it in a good state for next year.
CHRIS SINAL - VP-student affairs
For VP-student affairs Chris Sinal, it has been a trying, if not frustrating year.
First there was the band cancellation during O-Week, then another band cancellation during Homecoming. Then the Homecoming bus trip was cancelled at the last minute. Then came one massive mistake.
Operation: Massive will forever live in the annals of USC history as a giant flop. The extravagant venture cost council in excess of $30,000, embarrassed Sinal and divided council.
While some of these black marks on Sinal's record were slightly out of his control, the ultimate responsibility for these mistakes must fall on Sinal.
In hindsight, most agree it is Sinal's ambition and positive attitude which have both doomed and saved his portfolio. His desire to try new things and setting his sights high are admirable but his failure to follow through on those plans has ultimately undermined everything he has done.
Sinal's greatest attribute has been his ability to keep a smile on his face during the worst of times. His good-natured attitude and outgoing personality may have saved him this year.
Tracing the roots of these problems, it is clear a lack of experience and lack of a mentor at the student affairs position (anyone remember Steve Zolis?) that ultimately left Sinal with big hopes, but no concrete plans. An 'A' for effort maybe, but without the results Sinal rates poorly on this report card.
DAVE BREBNER - VP-finance
Dave Brebner was elected as the University Students' Council VP-finance after a signigicant number of councillor ballots were spoiled during last year's internal election.
Considering this apparent lack of faith from last year's voters, Brebner has shown he is earning his mandate and silencing his former critics.
The money man has taken some good external initiative setting up Campus Advantage dealing with universities banding together for corporate leverage and Campus Trust the collective university health insurance trust.
Brebner has also been working on a strategic financial plan which should be ready in July, and he said it will be one of his proudest achievements, providing continuity from one board to the next.
The VP has kept his name out of print much of this year which could mean good and bad things considering his efforts to educate students on campus. "I've been more external than internal," Brebner said.
He could also be criticized for not firmly putting his foot down on Operation: Massive as the financial advisor for the USC too much money was at stake to not try and stop the event.
The bottom line is, Brebner's real judgment will come with the release of this year's budget at the first general meeting so we will wait to grade the heart of the VP-finance's role and see whether the corporation and Brebner is in the red or the black.
JEFF SUTTON - VP-education
The USC's man in Ottawa is Jeff Sutton.
Responsible for lobbying government agencies on behalf of students and dealing with educational issues here on campus, Sutton seems to have emerged as one of the bright lights on the Board of Directors.
But Sutton's portfolio also makes him hard to pin down. Most of his work is done behind the scenes in dark alleys with powerful politicians and at fancy luncheons with influential lobby groups. With the bulk of his performance out of the spotlight, we can only judge Sutton's lobbying efforts by the shear number of hours he puts into it.
In this case, Sutton appears to be hard-working and determined. Constantly logging air miles across the country, Sutton has been making high level contacts, publicizing the needs of public education, and rising up in the ranks of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations.
Sutton's major fault may stem from the amount of time he spends out of the office and away from Western. Student knowledge of CASA and the USC's lobbying efforts is poor, and most do not even realize they are represented in Ottawa (or that their dollars go to supporting CASA). More work must be done to educate the average student.
Also of note is Sutton's performance at recent student council meetings. Generally considered an outsider coming into the position, Sutton has established himself as one of the best spoken, most level-headed figures on council.
Finally, Sutton received high praise for his ability to handle commissioners within his portfolio.
Overall, Sutton receives high praise from councillors and observers alike, and therefore comes out on top in our report cards.
FROM THE PEOPLE
"I've been here for four years and I've never seen a single thing happen. I don't vote anymore. They have solidly maintained the services I make use of in the UCC, but that doesn't depend on who is in office."
Ian Forbes, administrative and commercial studies/psychology IV
"Operation: Massive stands out in my mind, but I'm sure they've also accomplished some good things."
Ellen Shustick history/political science IV
"I prefer to think [Braun] has achieved some groundbreaking initiatives, but there's nothing that's left a lasting impression. But I'd certainly prefer a status quo to a step backwards."
Stephen West, honours business administration I
"I pay a lot of attention to flyers that are posted and if they would advertise for things more, I think I would notice."
Mona Afshar, undeclared II
"I respect the council and members of the board for the time and effort they put into this school, but there's more room for change."
Matt Rae, history II
"They seem to have run a lot more charity events this year which is a positive."
Serena Leyes, media, information and technoculture III
Photos by Jeremy Brace/Gazette
Copyright © The Gazette 2000