Broughdale, UWOFA and Freedom of Expression – Senate, Oct. 19

The large student gathering that took place on Broughdale Avenue at the end of September, during what has come to be known as “FoCo,” was among the chief topics of discussion at the October session of Senate, with issues of student safety, communal efforts towards solutions and the “protection” of Homecoming emerging as main concerns.

Lynn Logan, Associate Vice-President (Finance & Facilities) said, “We believe ideally this is a community full-court press” that requires the attention of the university, emergency services, the city and the community.

“The media is feeding (the issue). It is called Broughdale, not FoCo, and it has become a spectacle. The larger you make the spectacle, the more people want to participate in it,” she said.

Finger-pointing of blame and responsibility does not help, she added, and the university needs to better educate the community on what it can and cannot do in response. Western is working towards a statement that will explain how the university will proceed.

She added there’s consideration of sanctions against offending students under Code of Conduct rules. One complication, she said, is that police haven’t yet identified to Western the students who are charged or the landlords facing tickets.

Western President Amit Chakma likewise expressed the potential of discipline being “one of the tools” the university can apply in addressing the Broughdale issue.

When student senator Justin Kim asked about moving Homecoming back to September as a corrective measure, noting the university’s effort to curtail student partying by moving the celebration to October has not been successful, Chakma agreed that the decision didn’t “have the desired outcome,” but has had a positive effect on Homecoming celebrations and the experience of alumni.

“We feel that we have separated Homecoming from Broughdale and we have protected Homecoming,” said Kelly Cole, Vice-President (External), echoing Chakma’s sentiments.

Law professor Sam Trosow said he is “appalled’ with the city’s finger-pointing at Western but also with the university’s response to the city and neighbourhood community.

“There’s something very deeply wrong with how our near-Western community exists,” he stressed, adding landlords around campus are doing a disservice to the university and Western needs to bring community associations to the table when looking at ways to address these community issues.

Logan stressed the solution to Broughdale will have to come as a result of a wholistic approach.

“This is not going to be an overnight success story. This (student partying) is not a Western-specific issue; it is a North American issue. Western cannot get into a community policing role,” she said.

David Simmonds, BA’07 (Political Science, former Alumni Association President and this year’s Homecoming Chair, noted the university has a leadership opportunity at hand and encouraged Western to “build citizenship” in the community.

“This is not a party; it is a phenomenon that’s very dangerous to the 15,000 students and the community that lives there,” added Andrew Hrymak, Provost and Vice-President (Academic).

“Linking together is the only thing that’s going to stop the phenomenon of these street parties. We are looking at what policy tools we can bring to the mix.”

UWOFA protest

Prior to the Senate meeting, Western’s Faculty Association (UWOFA) distributed flyers and buttons informing attending members and members of the public of its concerns about  job security for contract faculty, compensation issues  – and UWOFA’s contention some of the surplus should be allocated to resolving those two issues. UWOFA and Western negotiators have been working since June towards a new contract. UWOFA is urging the university to “reinvest in its core mission of high-quality teaching and research.”

Freedom of expression policy

Following a number of campus community consultations, the Provost’s Ad Hoc Committee for Freedom of Expression reviewed feedback, establishing a Draft Policy that was presented to Senate for deliberation and comment. Committee chair and Arts & Humanities Dean Michael Milde noted Senate will need to pass a version of the policy at the November meeting in order to meet the provincial government’s mandated deadline of Jan. 1. The committee has looked at policies drafted by other universities, he said, adding whatever Western drafts cannot be a standalone policy. Western’s process in drafting one has been the most consultative in the province, Milde added.