In light of Western’s Strategic Plan, a controversial document approved by the University Senate in late January, the FIMS General Assembly drafted an open letter at a recent meeting which calls into question the effectiveness of their student representatives. They tasked OPENWIDE Online with publishing their concerns:
The following is an official statement of the FIMS General Assembly, representing the views of those students present at the meeting, approved through a process of direct democracy.
During the debate regarding the implementation of Western’s Strategic Plan “Going Global: Achieving Excellence on the World Stage” in a meeting of the university senate on January 24, 2014, University Students’ Council (USC) President Pat Whelan stood to speak. Upwards of sixty students were at his back, holding signs protesting the implementation of budget measures implicit in the plan that would selectively invest research money in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields, while leaving the humanities to flounder without much-needed funding. UWO Faculty Association President Jeff Tennant and Society of Graduate Students President Kevin Godbout, among other senate members, had already spoken against the plan on behalf of the student demonstrators. When his turn came, our elected student representative only congratulated the senate on assembling the plan that would negatively affect so many of his constituents.
The FIMS General Assembly has concluded that this behaviour does not constitute effective representation of undergraduate students’ concerns at the highest levels of university governance. That is why, in this statement, we are representing ourselves. We believe this issue is larger than Mr. Whelan or any one person and is systemic to the representative structure of the USC. Therefore, we pose the following questions to Mr. Whelan and the USC at large:
How were students-at-large consulted by the USC regarding the suggestions for the Strategic Plan put forward by the USC?
If the USC wished to see the affordability of education included in the Strategic Plan, why did the USC president say nothing while others voiced their issues with the plan?
Why did the USC president prefer to speak strongly in favour of the plan while dozens of passionate students, representing the thousands who will be negatively affected by the Strategic Plan, demonstrated their discontent?
What relationships with administration and lobbying efforts may be in jeopardy if the USC were to speak against the Strategic Plan?