USC councillors must ask VP candidates tough questions

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

After last night’s Annual General Meeting: part one, Western’s University Students’ Council is one meeting away from picking its next Board of Directors.

The race for VP-university affairs is garnering the most attention, as both candidates for this position possess a wealth of USC experience both within and outside the portfolio.

Greater competition for every position would be preferable but, given the current state of undergraduate education in Ontario, the university affairs portfolio could have the most significant impact on Western students in the near future.

With the modest funding increases for post-secondary education in the McGuinty government’s “Reaching Higher” plan, institutions like Western have additional funds to make beneficial changes like lowering the student-faculty ratio.

As outlined in Western administration’s “Engaging The Future” plan, the school also plans to accommodate Ontario’s strategy to expand its graduate enrolment by accepting more students over the next five years.

Both strategies raise interesting questions, such as how much tenured faculty will be expected to teach undergraduate courses while taking on increased graduate supervision.

As the VP-university affairs position adopts a more internal lobbying role, students will be able to see the results of their work in the future, especially with the assistance of a full-time policy analyst.

With this in mind, voting council members should take time before Sunday’s meeting to learn about the issues pertaining to education. That way they can ask the candidates meaningful questions.

Rather than being asked “what their feelings on tuition” are, both candidates should be grilled with pointed questions Sunday to see who has been keeping informed and who will do the best job speaking to Western’s administration and government officials on students’ behalf.

With so much at stake for both the portfolio and education at Western in the near future, it wouldn’t be right for either candidate to win without truly being tested on their grasp of the position.

So before going out for St. Patrick’s Day, if you have a vote on Council, devise difficult questions for both candidates to test their knowledge of the portfolio rather than their ability to be witty or humorous on the spot.

And, if need be, write those questions down to ensure the green beer you consume Saturday won’t make you forget them the next day.

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