Letter: Financial accessibility is not trivial

We’d like to begin by thanking you for acknowledging the rise of student participation at Senate (Winders: Get a machete – Senate deep in weeds, Oct. 27).

For too long, student voices had been an afterthought instead of being an integral and appreciated voice in the decision-making process.

As mentioned in your article, Ivey Business School Dean Robert Kennedy raised the issue that we were “way down in the weeds in terms of Senate should be handling” and that the concern brought up was merely an “inconvenience” and “a small thing.”

The concern in question dealt with how the late release of final exam schedules has serious financial ramifications for the out-of-province and international students who choose to come to Western. We agree with Kennedy that Senate should focus on taking a high-level perspective, but we cannot accept a financial barrier on students as a “small thing.”

In the 2015-16 year, more than 20 per cent of the incoming class were either out-of-province or international students. This is not a small or insignificant issue. Saying it isn’t a “valid” concern trivializes the financial burden faced by so many students. Calling us “entitled” for raising the issue is insulting.

Unlike the author, we are simply not amazed just by the fact the exam schedules works. For many students, including international and out-of-province, we don’t believe it does. Many Ontario universities release their exam schedules far earlier than Western. Taking the tact that it can’t be better or that we shouldn’t even try is fairly myopic. It can be better and we should always aim higher to meet our claim of providing Canada’s “best student experience.”

If the author is so concerned with us bringing “experience” issues to Senate, we invite Western to create a better forum. Last year, a student Senator approached multiple administrators with the idea of creating a student experience committee to handle exactly these types of issues.

There wasn’t much enthusiasm.

Last year, we spent more than $2 million supporting Western International. If we really want to cultivate an environment that makes our campus a school of choice for those not in Canada, we should spend more time looking at things through their perspective.

We’re glad you appreciate a strong student voice. We invite you to keep listening.

 

Harry Orbach-Miller

Chair of the Western Student Senators and Senator at Large

Arjun Singh

Senator at Large