For those who have taught at Western and at other institutions over the past decade or two, it is not surprising that applications to UWO dropped by 19% this past year. Nor is it surprising that the academic requirements for admission were lowered to fill the 4000 places in the first year class. What is surprising is that 4000 of you still wanted to come to Western.

Increasingly students are being shoved into larger classes where professors cannot interact with them or get to know them. Increasingly students must deal with bureaucracies because professors have such heavy demands on their time that they no longer have time for students. Increasingly students are being treated as anonymous numbers and not as thinking, feeling individuals who would like human contact in their educational environment.

So why are you here? Do you really like big classes with professors who never get to know you? Do you really like being treated like non-feeling robots?

Your response may be that you feel as if you don't have much choice in the matter. But you do have a choice.

One possibility would be to attend some other institution, where the quality of undergraduate education has not deteriorated so badly. The difficulty with this option is that given provincial funding decisions and tuition caps, only a few such options are available in Ontario.

A second possibility would be to attend university in some other jurisdiction. There are other places that value high-quality education and are willing to offer it to students who are willing to work for it.

A third possibility is to drop out for several years, with the hope that in the meantime undergraduate education at UWO and elsewhere in the province will improve. Remember, though, that it will take quite some time to reverse some of the processes that have been set in motion by the recent budget squeezes.

This condemnation of undergraduate education at UWO is not aimed at the instructors here: in general, they/we do quite well, given the expectations held out for professors at what was once regarded as a top-flight research institution. Nor is it aimed at the administration, which is clearly trying to hold together a sinking ship and generally doing a reasonably good job.

Instead, the question is why you, as consumers, are willing to accept the shoddy merchandise. With the relatively low tuition, you are getting no less than you pay for. But is this what you really want? Ultimately, the choice is yours. And you must decide what you want for your future.


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