Independent media essential to campus
University of Western Ontario’s (UWO) student news- paper, The Gazette, has been put in a critical spotlight ever since its ongoing struggle with UWO’s Student Council. The fundamental problem is that The Gazette is at the mercy of the university and its student council. Some of the ongoing issues are rooted in this close connection between the two bodies in which The Gazette is unable to accurately report on the council or the university’s governance. When the paper rated the student government with a B- in April of 2012, for example, mass amounts of the paper’s edition disappeared.
Increasing tensions reached a breaking point when representatives from the student council called for cut- ting the paper’s budget as well as sitting in on editorial board meetings. This came just before the student council downsized The Gazette’s office space that’s been their home for 40 years. While the student council argued the space was needed to expand a multi-faith resource centre, their real intentions are difficult to decipher. Such an extreme case of tensions on campus illustrates the vital need for a university to have a student-run and owned newspaper that exists independently from the institution and its governing bodies.
The basic function of a newspaper is to act as a watchdog for the thousands of students who are impacted by the university and its decision-making processes and outcomes. Such an obvious right is often taken for granted, especially with leftover copies of The Cord strewn all over campus. However, it is important to recognize the fundamental need to have an organization that protects the interests of students before the need to protect the university’s reputation.