Volume 95, Issue 37

Wednesday, November 7, 2001
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USC to build off-campus voice

Editorial Cartoon

Editorial Board 2001-2002

USC to build off-campus voice

Oh, that crazy University Students' Council – what sort of madcap adventures will they get into next?

The USC has been talking about representation for off-campus students for a long time, but now, it seems, the wheels are setting into motion.

Currently, OC students are represented within the USC by the off-campus commissioner, but according to officials, this person is solely responsible for Orientation week programming.

After O-week, many OC students tend to fall through the cracks and disappear out of the USC's reach.

This new representative body would address the everyday concerns of OC students not already met by the USC and make OC students feel more at home in the Western community.

So far, an informal committee has begun to lay the foundations of this new representative body. But, they surely find themselves in a difficult position for they are charged with figuring out just what this council's mandate should entail.

Is this just another council or will it actually accomplish something concrete? More pointedly – is there a need for a new council to specifically represent off-campus students?

It is true that for students living off-campus, there are few places to voice concerns or ask questions about student-related issues besides the USC, a prospect that can be very intimidating.

Moreover, there is often a feeling of isolation among those who don't live within Western's gates, especially if they are in first-year. While many Western students develop close bonds with the people they live day-in and day-out with in residence, a large majority of the off-campus student population returns home nightly to their parents' house.

This feeling is most evident during O-week. And if a large percentage of OC students do not participate in O-week, how can the USC expect them to participate in an off-campus council?

However, if they did participate, perhaps OC students would feel like they were more a part of the university community. Considering the imminence of the double-cohort, this initiative may be all the more necessary.

It has become obvious that a large number of students will have to live off-campus even if they do not necessarily wish to, especially as Western can barely house the amount of students presently requesting residence accommodation.

It is a strong possibility that an OC students' council is a good initiative for the USC. But the USC must properly promote the council in order for it to be successful.

They need to work with Western's administration, housing and various other bodies in order to make this council a success and they need the co-operation of OC sophs to encourage frosh to participate in the council.

They will also need to be patient. This council may not flourish right away, but, in time, it could rectify the on-going problems faced by OC students.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001