Western and Fanshawe students may soon be able to contribute their voices to municipal politics in London, but the question remains—what exactly is this going to achieve?
On the surface, it seems like a wholly positive proposal. Students will sit on the advisory committees and represent the interests and perspectives of the youthful and the academically-minded of London, allowing for student interests to receive more attention—at least, that’s what it should be in theory.
Yet, the students sitting on city hall advisory committees will only possess speaking rights—not a vote. This means that despite the appearance of importance, the opinions of the students on these committees will carry little to no real weight, and can be easily overlooked.
Furthermore, the students sitting on the advisory committees will only have one-year terms, hardly long enough to enact serious change. Combined with ever-morphing class schedules that may make it difficult for some to attend these meetings—which operate on a professional schedule, not an academic one—it seems like permitting a student to participate may be a purely token gesture. So what’s the point?
There are lots of municipal issues facing students residing in London—issues that are currently going unaddressed. These include a lack of exposure to London culture outside the Western bubble, frustrating bus schedules, and, perhaps most importantly, the inability to find gainful employment. While these issues might seem obvious to the average student, it’s unlikely they are being discussed with much vehemence amongst municipal politicians.
Also, the city is concerned with ways to keep students in London. Perhaps allowing them to participate in the political goings-on of the city is the perfect way to foster a serious investment in London from not only the students sitting on the committee, but also those they represent.
Thus, a student voice may prove important in conveying the oft-overlooked interests of students to municipal politicians, albeit without the voting power to enact change themselves. While the actual impact these student advisors will have is likely going to be negligible, it’s still better than nothing, and may serve to enact some measurable and positive change.
— The Gazette Editorial Board