Volume 96, Issue 61
Friday, January 17, 2003

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Responsible activism

Re: "USC's political activism questioned," Jan. 14

To the Editor:

Although I rarely feel compelled to respond to Gazette articles, I make an exception in the case of the recent article on University Students' Council activism. I think the article is fair and congratulate [the author] Chris Webden. I do, however, believe the article creates an impression of apathy and passivity on the part of the council that does not exist.

The mission of the USC is to enhance the educational experience and quality of life for undergraduates at Western. It is not an organization that is designed to immerse itself in demonstration and protest on behalf of wider social and political issues that are of secondary concern to Western students – regardless of the perceived importance of some of those issues to vocal special interest groups. This is not the stuff student heroes are made of, but it is the way student quality of life is impacted.

With regards to activism, which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as "policy of vigorous action, especially in politics," the USC is anything but apathetic or uninvolved. Below I've listed some of the activities the USC pursues on a consistent basis. While these activities may not block traffic, result in Concordia-like anarchy or waste money on placards that five minutes later litter the floor, they do make a difference to thousands of Western students.

Social issues include the food bank, Queerline, charity initiatives, accessibility funding, women's issues funding, daycare funding, as well as education funding.

Student issues addressed by the USC include the Student Services Committee and ancillary fee funding, provision of the Student Health Plan and bus pass, management of the University Community Centre, funding and management of Orientation, representation on Senate, Board of Governors and key committees and the provision of numerous employment opportunities for students.

Political issues range from CASA and OUSA membership and leadership, to regular meetings with university leaders in key areas of student concern, including the president, Registrar and VP-administration, and consistent and regular issues-based meetings with municipal, provincial and federal politicians and policy-makers.

I am proud of the USC's ability to address and, in many cases, resolve many issues before they reach the point where protest becomes necessary. I admit to a bias in my assessment, but I believe, that when it comes to lasting change for the better, I'll take the cooperative approach to activism over Che Guevara's approach or singing songs in the cold.

Chris Sinal
University Students' Council President

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