March 10, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 83  

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NEWS

USC prez Yeoman discusses year
Talks highlights, criticism and admin

By Emmett Macfarlane
Gazette Staff
Dave Picard/Gazette
... AND NOW, FOR MY FINAL ACT IN OFFICE, I WILL JUMP FROM THE THIRD FLOOR OF THE UCC. University Students’ Council President Paul Yeoman stands as a pillar of political power in the University Community Centre.

When University Students’ Council President Paul Yeoman looks back at his term in office, he says he’s proud of a year that saw its share of successes and faced more than a few difficulties.

“I think the year’s been very positive overall,” he says. “We’ve had some significant challenges — but that’s good. I think we’ve weathered the challenges well.”

Yeoman isn’t talking about weathering a little rain; in fact, the USC was hit by two tornado-like problems this year. The Wet/Dry Program was shut down in the fall after the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario cracked down, and the USC could not renew the part of its liability insurance that covers off-campus, alcohol-related events.

He admits there was a transition to be made when it came to dealing with such problems, adding it was particularly frustrating since the issues were generally beyond the USC’s control. “It comes as a shock. You’re not used to it,” he notes. “You recognize [the year] is not going to be all rosy and perfect.”

Yeoman says USC management adapted to the insurance problems well, and noted that they have worked out all-access programming to help deal with the Wet/Dry issue.

But the year wasn’t all about crisis-management, he points out.

“The one [biggest success] for me has been the Living Campus Project,” Yeoman says, adding many people weren’t sure how it would pan out, as it originated as a platform point in his campaign last year. “I’ve had students come up to me and say this is one of the best things they’ve seen the USC do.”

Yeoman says he was also proud that Orientation Week went off without a hitch, noting that he was able to give a speech in January that said O-Week is safe for next year. “For a while, administration wanted to cut back [on O-Week], but we were able to resolve [the contentious issues].”

When asked to respond to any criticisms levelled at him this year, particular by The Gazette, Yeoman doesn’t miss a beat. “I don’t think it’s a status quo year. I don’t think you could have a status quo year with a record number of votes [in the election].

“I don’t think you could have a status quo year with the freezing of student fees. I think we’ve been incredibly effective this year.” He adds that the current Board of Directors has laid a lot of groundwork for future years.

One of the specific high points in the year was introducing bursaries for sole-support parents, he explains. “It was a constituency that needed help and we responded,” he explains.

Asked for an example of a low point, Yeoman replies that he doesn’t think there necessarily were any. “I know that sounds kind of arrogant to say,” he notes, adding it reflects a lot of the hard work of USC staff this year.

Another criticism aimed at the USC this year was that it bent over to please administration, something Yeoman disagrees with. “The relationship has improved immeasurably, particularly over the last five years,” he explains. “Basically, [the USC and administration], were butting heads and not getting anywhere.

“[A good relationship] doesn’t mean we’re going to abandon our principles — we’ve just [acted] in a more responsible and mature manner than in the past.”

 

Notable quotes from USC President Paul Yeoman:

“Dr. [Paul] Davenport is very receptive to the student cause. He’s made a lot of efforts to reach out to students, and I really respect that.”
—on Western’s president

“Great, if it’s fully-funded.”
—on freezing tuition

“Colleagues. Respect. It’s been great to see strong relationships in a professional and personal way, and we may disagree on things, but we don’t damn each other.”
—on The Gazette

“We’ve still got a month and a half to go and we’re going to work hard to the end.”
—on the rest of the year

“I want to see us as the premiere student organization in the country, and we’re almost there.”
—on the USC in five years

“It was a good discussion.”
—in reference to
the two-hour council debate on the big purple awning

“It’s almost funny sometimes how easy it is when I can put the weight of my office behind something.”
—on resolving problems

“I think it looks outstanding.”
—in reference to
the Concrete Beach

“I think the big thing that happened with Concrete Beach was weather.”
—in reference to
the delays in construction

 

 

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