March 10, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 83  

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NEWS

Makeup of council to change?
Council to vote on who gets to vote

By Anton Vidgen
Gazette Staff

A motion to dramatically alter the membership of the University Students’ Council will be facing a vote tonight, but some councillors are worried the change will actually hurt students.

Residence and off-campus councillors, senators, the Board of Governors representatives and the four VP positions could all lose their voting privileges if the motion is passed, though they would still retain speaking rights.

The number of faculty councillors will increase to offset the lost votes and ensure proper representation, explained USC President Paul Yeoman. There will be a net drop in voting seats, however, Yeoman said it “won’t be more than 10.”

But some residence councillors are upset that the needs of first-year students and those that live in residence will not be met by the proposed arrangement.

“I don’t think faculty councillors can accurately represent first-year students because we face issues that are outside the academic realm,” said Desiree D’Souza, a first-year student and Essex Hall’s residence councillor. “The vast majority of first-year students need to be represented by their residences, and not by their faculties, which can’t meet their specific needs.”

D’Souza also said that speaking rights do not go far enough in giving students who live in residence a decisive voice. “When you take away [our] vote, you’re alienating first-year students,” she said. “Ultimately, if I don’t have a say in what happens, I’d be less enthusiastic.”
The mover of the motion, arts councillor Julia Rady, had a slightly different opinion. “I am a huge supporter of first-year students,” she said. “But you have to be fair.”

Rady explained that giving senators or residence councillors voting privileges creates a system of double or even triple representation where some undergraduate students — such as those that live in residences — are represented by more than one councillor. “My approach to this motion and to this council is one of equity.”

The current motion is based on a similar motion that last year’s council debated, but ultimately voted down by a close vote.

The difference with this motion, Yeoman said, is that residence councillors become first-year liaisons that are explicitly listed as ex-officio members of the USC with speaking rights. “These positions are created specifically as communication links with the rest of council.”

Calling the change “responsible,” Yeoman said it was part of the USC’s evolution to better serve students. “The purpose of the motion is to chart a new direction of governance.”

Bevan Earhart, the president of Saugeen-Maitland Hall and a vocal critic of both the current and past motion, said the new arrangement pays “lip service” to the important role that first-year students and residence councillors play on council.

 

 

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