Volume 96, Issue 78
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

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Endorsement may UWgo nowhere

By Emmett Macfarlane
Gazette Staff

Western student Board of Governors representative Brian Lynch said he feels he should be able to endorse a University Students' Council presidential candidate, despite the objections of the USC's Board of Directors.

Lynch claims the USC has threatened to lobby Western's administration to shut down the UWgo network, a network and file-sharing system used by as many as 4,000 students that may contravene the policy of Western's Information Technology Services.

"The USC believes it's inappropriate and wrong that a member of the Board of Governors would endorse a candidate for president," said USC President Chris Sinal. "Additionally, Mr. Lynch is in a position to influence a significant proportion of the student body through his position as administrator of the UWgo computer network.

"I suspect students would not support [Western President] Paul Davenport or [VP-administration] Peter Mercer endorsing a presidential candidate," Sinal said. "[Lynch] is a member of BOG who has responsibilities beyond those of an average student."

"The reason why we've never encountered this problem before is because, typically, members of senior administration and the Board of Governors are wise enough and cognizant of their responsibility to not endorse people," Sinal said.

Lynch said he feels he has a right to express himself. "Although I'm an elected student and a member of BOG, I'm still an undergraduate," he said.

"I'm surprised I have to deal with negative issues coming from the body I seek to support so strongly," Lynch said. "Where does the USC's perceived authority end?

"Sinal thinks that I can influence students. I'd like to think that students are in a position to make their own decisions," Lynch said. "Sinal raising the issue of UWgo's existence shows that he's not sitting on precedent, he's leveraging a threat."

Mercer said he has spoken with Lynch and advised him that endorsing a presidential candidate might be inappropriate. Any decision regarding the UWgo network will be up to ITS, he added.

Denis Regnier, manager of technical support at ITS, said UWgo is just another variation of a program that might contravene policy. "It's quite predominant in the residence network," he said, adding he has not heard anything from administration about taking action against UWgo.

Lynch said his involvement with UWgo is only as creator, and that the network runs without his administration at Western and many other universities.

Lynch added it is a slippery slope when administration looks to cross into censorship. "If [administration] starts to become invasive, I think that would unnecessarily tie up their resources."


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