Volume 95, Issue 78

Wednesday, February 20, 2002
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Promises, promises

Editorial Cartoon

Editorial Board 2001-2002

Promises, promises

In the strategic plan released by Western's administration last fall, Western president and French knight Paul Davenport reiterated his promise that no student will be forced to leave university due to financial reasons.

The plan states that "in all our undergraduate programs, we maintain the commitment of the University of Western Ontario, that no qualified student will be unable to attend Western or will be required to withdraw from any academic program at Western for financial reasons."

In making the promise, administration demonstrates that Western is committed to ensuring post-secondary education is accessible to all students.

It's important to note this is not a new program or fund for needy students – the university will instead help research all financial aid possibilities for students who come forward with a financial need.

This is definitely a bold statement on the part of the university. The promise goes a long way to improving the image of Western. It's quite unlikely Davenport would make this sort of statement without monetarily backing it up and, so far, he has done a good job of being open about the message.

If nothing else, the guarantee helps make the university community atmosphere a little warmer. Considering the barrage of tuition increase protests on campus and disgruntled tuition freeze rants, it's definitely a step forward for student/administration relations.

The commitment appears to be nothing more than a smart move for everyone involved – administration's image gets a much-needed polishing and students know the almighty dollar will never force them out of our 'post-secondary country club.'

There are, however, a number of unanswered questions and areas of concern.

What will happen to those students who choose, for whatever reason, not to ask the university to put action behind their words, but instead seek off-campus employment? Is it not possible these students will take so much time away from academics in order to fill work obligations that they may be forced to leave the university for academic reasons?

Though this policy is not new, many students still don't seem to know about it. In order for the commitment to be of any value to students, they must be informed of its existence. There may be many students in need who don't bother looking for financial assistance because they believe they don't have access to funds.

It's important for us to note that 30 per cent of tuition increases go to funding financial aid. In essence, we are often times fighting tuition increases that administration needs to help keep their promise at a more than just meaningless rhetoric level.

There may also be an increased possibility of students abusing this promise. Weeding out the abusers will be an important task for administration.

Financial aid abusers however, represent a small percentage of those using financial aid – most students receiving funds genuinely need it.

In a time when everyone seems to be talking about how difficult it is to make ends meet, it is nice to see Western's administration promising to do their part and help those in need.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002