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Friday, December 4, 2020

OPINION: Transparency could increase student involvment in the AS

At last night’s Associated Students Presidential Forum, candidate Belina Seare opened by stating that the fact that she is running unopposed is indicative of a huge issue with a lack of involvement with the AS by Western students.

In her own words, “Students are not finding the Associated Students representing them and they are not having access to this space, which allows them to have confidence and advocate for themselves.”

With this, we could not agree more.

This year, only two of the six AS vice president positions are competitive elections. In the last AS elections, only 7 to 8 percent of students voted. That’s down from 22 percent in 2012 and 16 percent in 2013. To us, that’s not what inclusivity looks like, and we are looking forward to see what Seare has in store to bring the AS to the student body at large.

Seare also stated that she is just one woman, and cannot know what the largest issues on campus are without constant communication with the student body. Her willingness to listen to her constituents is encouraging, and we are excited to see what avenues she opens for student input.

As Western students, we are all part of the Associated Students through fees we pay as part of our tuition. However, it feels as though there is a divide between those who work within the AS and the rest of the student body. Many students are not aware of what the AS does, let alone how they can get involved.

The AS is the vehicle for student involvement in university policy-making and therefore should be readily accessible to all. Increasing transparency and openness between the AS and the rest of the student body is key to increasing involvement, in our opinion. When students don’t feel as though they can openly see how the AS operates, they also don’t feel like they can get involved in the organization itself or contribute to the processes of student government.

Board meetings are open to all students, but do all students know that? Creating a public forum should be considered a necessity to support the AS democracy. Board meetings cover interesting topics that involve the use of student funds related to student projects — shouldn’t student voices take a part in this beyond the board members?

We look forward to fostering a more transparent relationship with Seare and the AS in the future.

The editorial board is composed of Anna Jentoft, Dylan Green, Brandon Stone and Stephanie Villiers.

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