In defense of gown

By Jason Winders
February 27, 2014

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I know you have heard it. I certainly have.

When compiling a list of London’s Greatest Hits – those topics people love to complain about in this city – it comes in at No. 3: Weather. Terrible drivers. Western isn’t doing enough for the community.

Whether hand-wringing over the lack of a gargantuan presence downtown, complaining about students being too tightly sealed inside a ‘Western bubble’ or placing out-of-proportion economic impact expectations on the university’s back, Londoners love to complain about Western.

WIC

In a way, I get that. It is the same in most university towns. When you are the 800-pound gorilla – or, in London’s case, among a small pack of 800-pound gorillas – every move is cause for debate and complaint.

But to me, town-and-gown relations are about more than economic development or industry partnerships. They are about offering a different quality of life – one not all communities are blessed to have. They are about using the university’s strength – its people – to make the city – our city – a better place.

And you would be surprised how often that happens.

Western’s students, staff and faculty enthusiastically participate in countless community engagement activities every day across the city. The breadth is quite incredible.

In this special issue, Western News tells the story of just a small sampling of the programs, organizations and people on this campus who contribute to the wider community Outside The Gates. Our list is far from exhaustive. Thanks to the Western Journalism students who reported and wrote these stories, you’ll get a brief window into what this university and its people add to the community.

Some stories you may know by heart; others you may be learning about for the first time. But these small stories add up to a large impact in the community.

Hope you enjoy.

Jason Winders
Western News editor























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