Blouw, Lambert address concerns

Photo by Will Huang

Photo by Will Huang

A public meeting between the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union and student group Laurier Student Voices took place Thursday night to discuss any questions or concerns about recent staff cuts and budget issues.

The meeting was a follow-up to an impromptu meeting on March 10 between the two groups when students “occupied” the Students’ Union office following the announcement that 22 positions at the university were cut.

Laurier president and vice-chancellor Max Blouw, Students’ Union president and CEO Sam Lambert and incoming Students’ Union president Olivia Matthews were all in attendance, along with some Union board members and concerned students.

Lambert opened the discussion at the meeting about the Union’s position when it comes to administrative cuts.

“It’s not our job or part of our mandate to represent faculty and staff. It is however our job to advocate with the administration and to make sure that in situations like this that the student experience isn’t impacted in a negative way,” he told the room.

Blouw also explained in the meeting Laurier is in a “financial position where it was necessary for the cuts to take place.”

“I think it’s very important that we recognize that we did communicate to the extent that we thought we could prior to the actions that were taken,” he said.

According to Blouw, Laurier’s revenue is declining because of a low number of students applying to the faculty of arts. He also attributed the decline to the demographic dip with university-aged students in Ontario.

“There are fewer university-aged students in Ontario than there were last year and there will be fewer again next year,” said Blouw. “So in order for Laurier to grow, it needs to attract a number of students.”

When asked about the Milton campus, Blouw said he believes the investment will help the university grow. The town of Milton is one of the fastest growing communities in Canada, he continued. “If Laurier doesn’t establish the task, someone else will.”

Afterwards, Lambert said he believes the meeting was helpful for looking into how the Students’ Union can improve their communication with students.

“We’re continuing to work to figure out what our next steps are and how we can figure out how to communicate on behalf of them and the rest of the student body going forward,” he said.

Connor Young, a fourth-year student and a representative of LSV thought the meeting was productive for their group.

“I think after the meeting ended, we’re looking at a Students’ Union and a student body next year that will have a lot more agency and they’ll start advocating on their own behalf,” he said.

Young felt having Blouw in attendance was a good opportunity to get more answers.

“At first, I wasn’t particularly happy because we didn’t know and we were coming in there with questions prepared for WLUSU, so I was a little bit shocked he was there, but then I realized like, okay this is about getting answers,” he said.

During the meeting, Young asked the Union about the two interpretations of data available to students — one being from the Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association and the other from the administration. Young requested that the Students’ Union interpret the data and provide students with the information.

“That way we actually have a student perspective on it and how this is going to affect students,” said Young.

Overall, Young felt the Students’ Union held a productive meeting.

“They were really receptive to what we were saying, but at the same time they weren’t getting too much because obviously they sit under a bureaucracy and they have to follow certain rules.”

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