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- Gazette Investigation -
The "Movie Night" saga
By Jessica Leeder
While the Undergraduate Engineering Society was outraged over the cancellation of last weekend's "Movie Night" on short notice, it would appear the controversial event was a topic of debate as early as this past spring.
Documents leaked to The Gazette indicate Western administration and the University Students' Council expressed concern about the activities of engineers including the "Movie Night," originally planned to be held in Orientation week in a series of closed meetings this summer as part of the Orientation Governance Board.
"As early as April, administration told us 'Movie Night,' as a part of Orientation week, could not happen," said UES president Nancy Wigmore.
Western's vice-provost and registrar Roma Harris, who was present at the May 14 and July 14 meetings of the OGB, said the administration made their concerns about the event very clear.
"My advice to the UES executive members that I met with in the summer was that the university had serious concerns that had been expressed to the UES for a long time about ["Movie Night"] and that we wanted to discourage them from putting students at risk," Harris said.
The OGB also discussed such "risks", including "engineering hazing practices" and the possibility of moving "Movie Night" to "the convention center with some faculty members attending."
Harris said there was discussion at the meeting about the UES holding an event separate from "Movie Night" would be endorsed by the UES and the faculty of engineering, though there was no set date and she was under the impression it was not "officially" going to happen.
Despite this, Wigmore said the UES did not leave the meeting with the impression the event was dead in the water. The UES went ahead and planned "Movie Night" for Homecoming weekend.
Wigmore said the UES came under unexpected pressure by administration in the days leading up to the event to be held in Lucan and was forced to cancel at the expense of approximately $6,000.
Two days before the event was to occur, Peter Mercer, VP-Administration for the university, sent a fax to Justin Fidler, facility manager of the Lucan Community Centre, informing him:
"[Western] refuses to grant permission for the event entitled 'Movie Night' or 'Festivas' [sic] to be held at your facility. Accordingly, you are further advised that this event, currently scheduled for this Saturday, Sept. 29, is cancelled. [Western] does not and will not allow an event of this sort to proceed."
According to Wigmore, the events of the past week are indicative of a larger bias toward engineers at Western.
"We always feel like we're a little bit targeted," she said. "Administration decided [that] it wasn't happening."
with files from Kristina Lundblad