Volume 95, Issue 83

Tuesday, March 12, 2002
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Primary concerns

Editorial Cartoon

Editorial Board 2001-2002

Primary concerns

Stolen thunder and wounded egos could be causing the University Students' Council more pain than meets the eye.

Shrouding the USC's acceptance of Housing and Ancillary Services' guaranteed beds proposal are a number of areas of contention that have led to much confusion on council.

Housing has claimed controlling interest in the proposal because most of what it proposes will take place on their turf. While they are dangling the attractive offer of 113 guaranteed beds for sophs before the gaping mouths of the USC, they are asking – not surprisingly – for something in return.

To get a bed, each soph will be required to maintain a 65 per cent academic average. Additionally, due to bed shortages, the 113 spots will include all elected members of the residence executive council, regardless of whether they applied to be sophs or not.

At last Wednesday's USC meeting, the council was stuck debating the 65 per cent average stipulation when there could have been bigger and more relevant fish to fry.

There is nothing wrong with expecting sophs – those energetic, frazzled individuals who help define the Western experience for frosh – to keep up a decent average. Very few post-graduate and masters programs require an average of less than 65 percent and, in a community defined by academics, neither should students.

There is merit to the argument that Orientation is run by students for students, but students can teach themselves how to party – sophs who drank last year's average away need not apply.

Could it be the 65 per cent cut-off is a good idea – moreover, would it have been even better if the USC thought of it first?

Three head sophs were lost this year because of poor academic performance. Had the USC been ahead of the game, a renewed focus on academic standards for sophs would have prevented this problem and – had it been the USC's initiative in the first place – done wonders for their image.

Instead of droning on about mandatory averages – a component in the proposal that will ultimately work to both Housing and the USC's advantage – the USC should be worrying about the melding of residence council members and sophs.

Housing says they cannot give more beds in order to draw a distinction between the two. Guaranteed beds for new students is Western's primary concern and, after learning their lessons from the debacle earlier this year, they're putting their foot down.

Living in study lounges and off-campus apartments can take away from a student's university experience far more than having a shortage of sophs sleeping next door.

Still, with soph applications already dispersed, debating the proposal may be a lost cause for the USC this year. Instead of representing the small number of sophs who don't meet the proposed academic cut-off, they should lobby for more flexibility with the 113 beds for next year, keeping in mind that guaranteed beds for frosh should be everyone's primary concern.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002