This article was originally published in OPENWIDE back in 2015, and was written by Melissa Peterson
I would fairly compensate our contract academic staff and teaching assistants, the individuals who are on the front lines of our Best Student Experience—a sadly radical idea. The recent scandal involving Dr. Amit Chakma’s extravagant salary and the egregious mismanagement of public funds has sparked outrage amongst faculty and students alike, resulting in a petition with over 4000 signatures declaring non-confidence in our President and the Chair of the UWO Board of Governors, Mr. Chirag Shah. Every time I refresh that Change.org page, more people have participated in expressing their frustrations with the university secretariat.
Why does this matter? What does this have anything to do with me?
Well, I’m your (acclaimed) incoming FIMSSC President—not because you decided I was the most fit to represent your interests on the USC or the most capable of directing a student council that would act self-reflexively in best serving its constituents – but because no one stepped up to offer an alternative.
Some may argue that we have a political climate on campus brimming with apathy, but I’m inclined to disagree. The widespread collective action against the Chakma administration, or even the ongoing controversy regarding the USC elections both seem to indicate a high level of political interest. People, faculty, and students alike do care about something. Whether they take issue with income disparity at the university or the structures that inform (our) oppression and ensure the continued marginalization of groups with dissenting voices, they care.
Why then did almost every faculty student council, with the exception of the Social Science and Science Students’ Council, have an acclaimed president? Why did no one else extended their candidature to lead their own student government, a mechanism that exists to ensure popular representation?
Perhaps we shouldn’t be pointing the finger at the students who seemingly don’t care, instead turning our attention to the student governmental bodies that are no longer engaging said students. An event that yields no attendees is just as communicative of student expectations as one that incites a protest in retaliation.
A year may be a short period of time, but in my term as President I’d like to give you a reason to care. I can’t promise to single-handedly incite a revolution—nor do I necessarily believe that we need one within FIMS—but with the help of the incoming FIMSSC I will work to revitalize our faculty internally and strengthen our campus presence externally.
I feel it is of the utpmost importance to make (campus and greater) politics more accessible, to ensure our undergraduate student body has the information they need to make informed decisions of their own regarding issues of contention. We don’t all identify as countercultural liberals and this is more than okay.
While there is no mould for the typical FIMS student, that doesn’t mean we have nothing in common. This past year we tested our knowledge at trivia, danced in business casual, borrowed our professors’ books, and mingled in a museum—and we had a damn good time. The foundation has been built and I plan on mobilizing the FIMSSC to continue to foster a more inclusive faculty culture while we navigate the increasingly bureaucratized delivery systems of knowledge. If not social events, then I hope to unite us in our academic passions rooted in critical pedagogy by building upon the initiatives of councils’ past. We can talk to profs, sure, but can we present research like one? I’d like to provide the means for students to succeed in their academic pursuits, coursework related or not. Although the university is not a place for vocational training, it is the duty of the FIMSSC to allocate resources to provide a well-rounded experience catered to student needs.
I am but one person working alongside a dedicated cohort to best serve you and a thousand other undergraduates. If we’re going to have a year that surpasses the efforts of years past, I’m going to need your help. As a student representative, I see it as being my responsibility to listen long enough to my fellow students to discern what it is that you care about, but to do that I’m going to need someone to listen to—on the walk to class, at the FIMS General Assembly, and in our council meetings, which are open to the general public!
We’re fortunate enough here in FIMS to be surrounded by critical, thoughtful, and passionate individuals. So, for this upcoming year, I invite you to share your experiences, issues, hopes, and dreams. Finally as your FIMSSC leader and student representative, I request of you to hold me accountable. We can only Be Extraordinary if we work together.