Tories questioned on BOG makeup
By Emmett Macfarlane
Concerns over student representation on Western's Board of Governors emerged last week when a pair of Ontario cabinet ministers visited Western.
Dianne Cunningham, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities and Brenda Elliott, Minister of Community, Family and Children's Services, were invited to speak at Western by the UWO Progressive Conservative Association last Thursday night.
The appearance comes in advance of a pending provincial election, widely expected to be called within a year.
During Cunningham's visit, University Students' Council VP-education Josh Morgan said he was concerned about the lack of student representation on Western's Board of Governors.
"We only have two students on a board of 25 to 30," Morgan said. "The key stakeholder doesn't have that significant voice on the [highest governing] body," he added.
"Our universities set up the rules themselves," Cunningham said. "When we reorganized the colleges last year, we said students have to be represented on the boards."
Morgan, who is also president of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, said Cunningham has been very receptive to the idea that students should have a significant voice on BOG. "Administration isn't as receptive as the government on this issue," he said.
"OUSA's actually submitting a proposal to the minister about student representation," Morgan added.
According to Western media relations officer Marcia Daniel, an amendment to the UWO Act would be required in order to increase student representation on BOG.
During Elliott's speech, the minister said she expected Dalton McGuinty and the provincial Liberals to campaign very hard, adding the pending election could get ugly. "The election will probably be held next year," she said.
"All of the services I provide are for the neediest people in Ontario," Elliott noted. "As a minister, I'm always looking for ways to provide services. We have to be very strategic in settling our priorities," she added.
First-year social science student Jamaal Myers asked Elliott what the government was doing about homelessness.
"It is not an issue that any one level of government can address," Elliott stated. "We give money to municipalities to provide services," she said, adding no government has reached the heart of the problem.
"She completely avoided the question," Myers said, adding he felt the provincial Conservatives were responsible for the problem.