February 6, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 71  

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NEWS

Report Card time: evaluating the USC’s top dogs

Every year The Gazette evaluates the University Students’ Council’s Board of Directors (the president and vice-presidents), by soliciting, confidentially, an assessment from USC councillors and commissioners.

Below is the result — the annual USC Report Cards. Our news department consulted over 30 councillors and commissioners, most of whom just love hearing themselves talk as it is (thanks to all that got back to us, by the way).

We should note that councillors and commissioners have a very particular perspective on the job performance of the board members. These grades were administered with the understanding that such a perspective doesn’t necessarily allow the evaluators a complete picture.

Overall board C+

In almost any Batman movie, TV show or comic book, the villain tends to retreat to its hideout following defeat, and everything returns to the way it was before the villain set his or her diabolical designs in motion.

The same can be said of this year’s University Students’ Council Board of Directors and their impact on Western. Most classify this year’s board as status quo, where almost everything remained the same. There were no new campus-altering initiatives, no genuine risks taken and generally nothing introduced that involved far-reaching changes over the next several years.

Comments by councillors and commissioners regarding the board’s general effectiveness were sketchy and vague. Those who worked with the board did point out president and VPs worked more as a cohesive political unit. They were a group of specialists in each of their portfolios rather than a scattered group of individuals, as in boards past.

The board was said to be approachable when needed and more visible on campus — also an improvement from previous years.

While the board did perform their mandated duties competently, they had the habit of going relatively unnoticed. This board’s term was a year of status quo, linking last year to next.

Paul Yeoman President C

Batman’s two-faced foe represents what councillors and commissioners thought of University Students’ Council President Paul Yeoman. Strong criticisms and strong praise both surfaced.

Two-Face was known for making his decisions by the flip of a coin and Yeoman was perceived by many to make his decisions as a politician, rather than out of principle or conviction.

While many felt he was an exemplary leader, others converged on the opinion of him as uninspiring and unable to communicate effectively. Several criticized him as lacking authority.

However, many recognized that this year’s Board was not as top-down under Yeoman’s leadership as it was in previous years, and some found this to be a positive.

Yeoman’s Living Campus Program surprised many, turning out to be quite a success even though many had not expected it to be. In fact, Yeoman was praised for keeping many of his campaign promises.

In true Two-Face form, some felt Yeoman was not visible enough or available to students, while others praised him for being very approachable and available. Are we to regret his invisibility or thank our lucky stars that we did not run into the evil other half, plotting to take out our beloved Batman?

The polar opposites in assessments of Yeoman’s term do not mean there were no vague sentiments about him. Many expressed the opinion that Yeoman has done “just an OK job.”

Dave Ford VP-education A-

Much like his namesake, Western’s own Mr. “tuition” Freeze Dave Ford has a method to his madness.

Councillors and commissioners were nearly unanimous that Ford performed effectively in his role as VP-education, and demonstrated thorough knowledge of the two student organizations to which he represents Western: the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations and the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance.

A couple of councillors suggested that, in contrast to last year’s VP-education, Josh Morgan, Ford showed less political motivation in his office, and was praised for simultaneously keeping council aware of developments on the student lobby front.

His notable achievements this year included helping to establish a constitution for the Student Caucus on Governance and his participation in OUSA’s wall of debt campaign. Also, Ford successfully implemented the SmartVote initiative in October for the provincial election.

One criticism levelled at Ford was that he spent too much time in his cryogenics lab (i.e. CASA and OUSA), and was not as visible in the position as some would have liked him to be.

Ford’s work with individual students was not overlooked either, as many USCers noticed that he applied his experience to specific cases.

All in all, the consensus on Ford is that he managed to approach the thawing of the ice-cold mistress of student lobbying well — after all, the original Mr. Freeze had to turn to crime.

Adrienne Kennedy
VP-campus issues B-

Though many see Poison Ivy’s kiss of death as something to avoid, VP-campus issues Adrienne Kennedy instead has much love for all — minus the agonizing and painful death caused by poisonous plant toxins.

In dealing with perhaps the most emotionally-taxing of the VP portfolios, Kennedy conducted herself very well and handled complaints appropriately.

From the turmoil surrounding the Middle East to queer issues, Kennedy showed herself to be a hard worker and dedicated to her portfolio. She was considered approachable by many and a strong motivator by those who worked with her.

But like the exotic plants of her alter ego, Poison Ivy, Kennedy was seen as slow-acting and reactionary. A delayed response to issues gave rise to the perception that she lacked focus, coupled with what some labelled as inconsistency. Some also said that she needed to be more opinionated and take a less passive approach.

Accolades ranged from her doing a “wonderful job” to those who considered her performance only “decent.” Most agree that she effectively maintained the status quo, but considered the absence of any new initiatives as a negative.

However most councillors and commissioners felt her performance was commendable, especially given the amount of issues and concerns she was confronted with. Kennedy received near unanimous praise for deftly handling a difficult portfolio and truly taking the job to heart.

If anything, it sounds like Ivy took the poison out of her name — and out of the campus environment.

Rohan Belliappa VP-finance A

The Penguin is Batman’s wealthy cigarette holder-chomping nemesis. Coincidentally, he also resembles VP-finance Rohan Belliappa (though not physically).

The Penguin has a knack for keeping track of his cash, just like Belliappa. Save for his villainous schemes wreaking death and destruction on the innocent people of Gotham City, the Penguin receives very little criticism of his capability — not unlike Belliappa’s work within the USC.

Some suggested Belliappa put forth few actual new initiatives, hence the lack of criticism.

But many councillors and commissioners poured on the praise for his talent in managing council’s finances and for his organizational skills, which kept the USC’s books balanced and those working under him working in an efficient and adept manner.

This year saw the responsibility of the USC’s club system move from the VP-student affairs’ to the VP-finance’s portfolio. The switch of responsibilities meant that over 100 clubs with over 11,000 members were placed under the VP-finances’ jurisdiction along with its usual duties, a move that many point out was handled very efficiently by Belliappa.

Belliappa was also credited with keeping the committees, officers and commissioners under him well informed and up-to-date on issues.

His approachability was praised by those around him; he made himself available to residence and affiliate councils for help with their finances.

Belliappa has proven himself highly capable — much like Penguin in his efforts against Batman.

Matt Huether VP-student affairs B

Like the perpetually smiling Joker, Matt Huether, this year’s “VP-fun,” kept council laughing, often providing comic relief at meetings. Luckily, the psychotic, nutso side only really surfaced in Hueather’s wild and crazy (but lovely) hair.

Huether was a very positive mark on Western’s community with the successful organization of Orientation Week and Western Idol. Many complimented his work on O-Week, but some reserved criticism for the amount of control he allowed administration to retain over it. He also received high praise for his initiation of the Cabaret course in second term. Generally, council thought highly of his work with the various events of the “Living Campus Program.”

Huether was seen by many as a dedicated and energetic VP. He was credited for spawning many ideas and following through on them.

Although many felt he had done an above-average job as VP-student affairs, some designated him with an average mark. Many felt he did not do enough to deal with the loss of the Wet/Dry Program (although realistically, this was beyond his control).

The major criticism lodged against Huether was his availability. As the VP-student affairs, part of his job involved being available. Unfortunately, Huether was not an easy man to get in touch with this year. Despite this, a few said they felt Huether was quite visible on campus, perhaps more so than other VPs.

 

 

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