Tensions between the USC and some of the bigger clubs on campus have been simmering for a while, and recently that strain has led to the formation of the Student Organizations Union (SOU).
USC shafted the campus clubs by not only kicking them out of their space, but also then not providing them with an adequate replacement.
When the USC did come up with a space — a room in the basement of the UCC — the room couldn’t actually be used because it was assigned for commercial use. After more than six months of being asked for a space, the USC finally gave clubs a room on the second floor of the UCC. Let’s see how long this one lasts.
Then there was the so-called food “policy," which is basically not a policy since it really isn’t written down anywhere or passed by any USC body; it's more of a 'best practices' measure. The policy limits clubs from catering their events from anywhere except The Wave and The Spoke on campus. For clubs like the Muslim Students' Association (MSA) who look for Halal catering for their events, this was a big problem.
Then there was the miscommunication. Both the clubs and the USC have different stories. SOU co-chairs Robbie Cohen and Hassam Ansari are sure they tried their best to communicate with the USC. USC student programs officer, Allie Adamo, tells it differently — a story of unanswered emails and offers of a food policy exception.
For a group like SOU to come together at Western is remarkable. But despite the built up frustration, its difficult to see how the SOU will sustain itself. In many ways, its goal to advocate for all student organizations is basically duplicating the USC’s role. SOU made its role too broad to be sustainable, and its long-term viability is questionable.
While the group has come together to endorse a presidential slate, and the diversity of the “union” makes it all the more admirable, we have to wonder what happens to the SOU when the founding partners differ in, say, the next election? Will there be no collective endorsement? Who makes decisions for the group when there's a split?
SOU should have publicly presented tangible solutions that it wants to see. One can sympathize with those who have to deal with the USC's red tape, but the SOU needs its own manifesto stating its immediate goals. Presenting direct demands and ways they wish the clubs' system could be reformed would have made the organization stronger and more transparent.
Instead, they've planned a long-term organization whose sustainability will be questionable once the current leadership changes hands.