Volume 96, Issue 58
Tuesday, January 14, 2003

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USC's political activism questioned

By Chris Webden
Gazette Staff

The University Students' Council's perceived lack of involvement in student activism on campus has been called into question in light of a recent councillors' report.

Councillors spent several days examining USC policies and procedures at the USC member retreat held early in December, and subsequently created a document outlining their findings for the Board of Directors. At last week's USC meeting.

USC President Chris Sinal, gave a presentation outlining the Board's response to the report, but some of the council's suggestions were not addressed, notably, the section of the report stating that the USC should take a more proactive approach concerning pertinent student issues such as tuition increases.

"[Councillors] felt that the USC should be taking more of a stance on issues and doing demonstrations to show students' disagreement with any faculty and administrative decisions that they deem unfair," the report stated.

"Emphasis [on these issues] needs to come from the students themselves," said Mike Heilandt, a King's College councillor and one of the members responsible for the proposed initiative.

According to Sinal, organizing a student protest is similar to organizing a group of troops to go to war.

"My and the Board's belief is that protests and a lot of the things we associate with activism are valuable tools that students have at their disposal, but they cannot be used lightly," Sinal explained.

"[The Board] has been very fortunate to accomplish a lot without having to resort to protest," Sinal said, adding a lot of what the USC accomplishes takes place behind closed doors, where it is difficult for students to notice.

In contrast to the USC, the Society of Graduate Students has taken an active role in organizing protests and demonstrations in London.

"Student mobilization is important for raising public awareness and getting media coverage – and those things are really important for the progression of change," said Sarah McCarter, VP-external for SOGS.

"Despite the philosophical differences between SOGS and the USC, these are common issues that we all need to be working together to resolve," McCarter said, noting that, through the inclusion of several groups in the Western community, SOGS has organized demonstrations where both graduate and undergraduate students were represented.

"A lot of people say that Western students don't care about these issues and that the USC caters to this, but that relationship can work the other way as well," said Kamilla Pietrzyk, a second-year media, information and technoculture student and member of OXFAM.

Sinal vs. Guevara

Chris Sinal
President, USC

Revolutionary actions: Once took "a block from the middle and put it on top" during an intense battle of Jenga. In addition, recently, during a schmooze-laden lunch with MP Dianne Cunningham, Sinal is rumoured to have told her he didn't like the colour of her shoes, before resuming his usual routine of back-flips, ventriloquism and flattery.

Notable companions: Wannabe presidential successors who buzz around him like a swarm of ass-kissing bees on a mound of delicious sugar.

Image: Sinal looks like a cross between Fozzy the Bear and Willy Wonka.

Che Guevara
Cuban Revolutionary

Revolutionary actions: Guerrilla officer in the 1956 Cuban revolution – also a major player in attempted communist revolutions in other Latin America and African nations.

Notable companions: Fidel Castro, president of post-revolutionary Cuba. Guevara played his second-hand man in the Cuban government during the years following the revolution.

Image: Dark, brooding, eyes, a kick-ass beret and a beard that says "Let's all be politically active, embrace communism, and maybe destroy some capitalistic bastards at the same time."


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