Students organize global congress

Last year, Christopher Gorman and a handful of fellow students decided that rather than simply studying political science and international relations, they would like to provide a bit of input.

Gorman, who's in his fourth year of a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History, is now secretary-general of the Commonwealth Universities' Student Congress (CUSC). Scheduled for August 1999, the congress is expected to draw 200 student delegates from 54 Commonwealth nations to Vancouver.

"Many of the issues that are being dealt with on an international level will have a major impact on future generations," says Gorman. "We belong to a generation that will be affected by decisions being made today, yet the opportunities for input into the way these issues are managed are few."

Delegates will work with a broad agenda, says Gorman, and the congress secretariat intends to draw together ideas and themes from the congress for presentation to the 1999 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Cape Town, South Africa.

Gorman is now working to recruit student volunteers to help with organizing and staging the event next summer.

Although students comprise the heart of the congress organizing team, Gorman has also recruited heavy-hitting supporters from the greater university and national business and political communities.

Gorman, nine other UBC students, UBC President's Office executive director Herbert Rosengarten, and Royal Commonwealth Society President Lewis Perinbam comprise the congress secretariat.

A national council of university students provides links between Canadian universities, and prominent university and community members. UBC President Martha Piper and UBC Alumni Association President Haig Farris, are on the council's advisory board.

Gorman has been actively recruiting support from Ottawa and abroad.

While searching for support in principle, Gorman has also been chasing funding. He estimates the congress will cost roughly $650,000 to host.

CUSC has received seed money from the federal Dept. of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, while UBC has provided office space, equipment and other support.

The project is being undertaken with the Commonwealth of Learning, a Vancouver-based distance education organization, and the local branch of the Royal Commonwealth Society.

Gorman can be reached by e-mail at Volunteer applications can be found on the CUSC Web site at Those interested in volunteering can also e-mail for more information.