Hi, there. I’m Cat Mercer, the president of the Waterloo Science Fiction and Fantasy Club, and I agree with Alexander Wray: democracy is a little broken at the University of Waterloo. The biggest issue I have seen is low student involvement with Feds in general (a point many Feds staff made at the GM). For example, no GM has ever seen more than 0.04 per cent of students attend. Why? My guess: cynicism and lack of information. If I wasn’t directly involved in the clubs library, I’d have had no idea that there was a GM coming up, and if I had, I wouldn’t have gone because I wouldn’t have thought my vote would make a difference.
Wray doesn’t seem to want GMs to be a place where students make decisions. If 80 students come out, then they should have an impact. When Wray ran for the board of directors, 80 students were apparently a legitimate democratic group. But when we want a library? We’re radical thinkers. Insulting people who come out to participate in democracy is no way to bolster it.
A clubs library is far from radical. Other universities have similar facilities, and since WPIRG is willing to pay in order to use some of the room, this may actually end up earning Feds money. The alternative suggested was renting off campus space, which would cost a ton of money, and make it very difficult for students to access. The SLC is for student life – clubs are an important part of that, and a library where people can come together to discuss their common interests is a great way to build community – more so than a Starbucks or a nap room, both of which would cost more money than a library. And it would build community: just two of the 30 clubs interested in the library constitute 1,600 students worth of memberships. The solution to the study space problem isn’t a room which can’t fit the 800 students that wanted more study space. The solution is to have the university stop locking its classrooms.
Despite allegations otherwise, the old library wasn’t closed for study space. It’s currently a marketing office. Wray made some other interesting allegations: that WPIRG is an external group and the clubs library group misrepresented its proxies. WPIRG is a UW group with undergraduate student members. If it wasn’t, they couldn’t have voted. And with regards to the proxies, to paraphrase the president of Feds at the GM, serious allegations require serious evidence. I’d love to see some proof for this.
There is indeed a problem with democracy at the University of Waterloo. We aren’t taking part in it enough! The solution isn’t to make GMs a rubber stamp event. It’s to attend them and get loud. There’s another General Meeting coming up in October, and if you want to be heard, attend it or send a proxy! We won some incredible battles this time with 200 people. Imagine what we could do with 2,000.
WatSFic president, 4B Systems Design Engineering