I was already planning to attend the University Affairs standing committee last night. It wasn’t because of Pat Searle’s expressed enthusiasm over the Access Copyright discussion, or because Jon Silver has this strange habit of making Gazette members feel like welcome, wanted participants at standing committee meetings, rather than “those scary journalists who take notes in the back of the room.” No, the reason I wanted to go to this meeting came from a brief mention at the last USC meeting of a “third party” requesting “funds” that was passed to the UA committee. Sounds juicy.
The “third party,” Big Brothers and Big Sisters of London and Area, kicked off the meeting with a presentation about all the good they do in the community and a request the USC put a referendum to students asking for a $2.00 levy on their student fees to help support this organization.
Wait a minute. Haven’t we been here before?
I wasn’t the only one suffering from déjà vu. After thanking BBBSOLA for their time, the committee started discussing the moral implications of the USC even posing such a referendum. The same moral implications the USC wrestled with during the SRP referendum debacle.
But, didn’t we already deal with this? Turns out a motion for a change to the bylaws outlining specific procedures for third-party groups seeking referenda was passed at the first council meeting of the year on March 30. The changes were sent to the bylaw committee and then…nothing. UA agreed Silver should talk to the by-law committee to get an update on the changes, since yes, we did already deal with this.
After that was sorted out, the other big news was indeed Access Copyright. It’s a complicated situation that’s difficult to slog through in any medium, and this post is definitely not the place. As a general synopsis, Access Copyright is a group which acts as a middle man between post-secondary institutions and publishers. Over the past year, changes in their fees have caused many post-secondary schools to end their affiliation with the group and seek other ways to gain copyrighted materials. So far, Western hasn’t opted out, but they have made changes in the fee they collect from students and are waiting for Access Copyright to finalize some decisions before they know how much money they owe.
For details and updates on the intricacies of the university’s contract and user fees, stay tuned to the Gazette news section where they will be keeping an eye on the situation and breaking it all down.
Or talk to Pat Searle. That’s not a joke, he’s done a lot of research and currently sits on a board representing you, the students, to work out what the school should do with regards to Access Copyright. Send your questions and concerns his way, he’s a veritable expert on this sticky situation.