Breaking down the 2006-07 year in news at Western

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Huron food strike

Joyce Wang

STRIKE A POSE. Of all the news stories at Western this year, the Huron food services strike may be the freshest in our minds, but many other zany, controversial stories arose this year on campus.

Since the school year is almost over, The Gazette decided to recap what made headlines at Western this year.

A topic of debate from the 2005-06 school year, the status of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights as a Western club, carried over into this year. Last September, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights was officially de-ratified by the University Students’ Council. The club appealed the decision but was denied.

Another hot topic from the past resurfaced this year, involving Western Professor Philippe Rushton. Rushton was in the spotlight in past years for controversial research on links between race and intelligence.

Last September, Rushton revealed new research on links between sex and intelligence and was met with criticism.

Also in September, Western and several other universities made headlines by pulling out of participation in Maclean’s annual ranking of Canadian universities. Western pulled out after claiming Maclean’s misused the school’s data.

Maclean’s filed Freedom of Information requests to obtain data from most of the universities that withdrew. However, Western made the data Maclean’s needed available online to the general public. When the annual survey was released, Western slipped slightly in the rankings from past years.

At the start of the school year, London Police Service launched Project Speakeasy, an initiative aiming to curb problems in student neighbourhoods. The project focused primarily on noise and alcohol violations. Murray Faulkner, London’s police chief, proposed special drinking fines and a registry for keg purchases.

Some big names visited Western during the year. Federal NDP leader Jack Layton, Liberal MP Belinda Stronach, Liberal leader Stéphane Dion, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, Provincial Conservative leader John Tory and Federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May were among the politicians who spoke at Western this year.

The face of campus is changing, with several high-profile construction projects in motion. Construction of the new recreation centre is well under way. As well, Weldon library received a facelift. Also, The Wave, the USC-run University Community Centre restaurant, will close for the next four months for a $1.2-million renovation.

The USC delivered a new long-term plan this year, "Built to Lead." The plan sets a blueprint for the organization’s future direction. It addressed environmental policy, the job descriptions of various positions on the Board of Directors and much more.

The USC also reduced its student fee by $46.08 in its annual budget.

Waiting time to see a counsellor for mental health issues at Student Health Services and Student Development Services was a recurring issue this year. It was exposed last fall and re-emerged after the suspension of USC VP-campus issues Pedro Lopes revealed his struggle with depression last month.

Huron University College’s food court graced the front pages more than once this year. First, two students were arrested for breaking and entering after being found on the roof of the food court at the end of October.

Starting March 26, striking Huron food court workers obstructed the Huron parking lot in an effort to draw attention to their demands for fair wages.

Crime touched Western campus personally when 18-year-old health science freshman Kulvir Grewal was charged with second-degree murder. Grewal was charged in the slaying of Atinder Singh at a party at 10 Ambleside Dr. Jan. 27.

Near the end of the year, Ontario campuses began taking action on social issues important to students. Queen’s University announced it would divest from any companies connected to the Sudanese government and genocide in Darfur. The University of Toronto divested from tobacco stocks, while the University of Guelph stopped using eggs produced by caged hens.

The Gazette also wants to make special mention of the black box, gracing the UCC atrium throughout the year, which helped give exposure to important issues on campus. The black box was clearly the newsmaker of the year.

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