Student newspapers an important part of university life

The expression of student publications is often overlooked and sometimes underappreciated, but should never be undervalued.

On May 1, University of Waterloo’s student newspaper, Imprint, received an eviction notice from the university’s student government informing them of a termination of their office’s lease after 37 years of occupation.

In discussions following the letter, Waterloo’s Federation of Students, commonly known as the Feds, said the office space is needed to accommodate their growth and student services in the Student Life Centre. Feds offered Imprint a space almost half the size of their current office, or the option to find space off campus — a severe downgrade and threat to their production process.

Despite the official reason of office space, this seems to also be a threat in response to critical coverage. In an article released by Imprint on July 2, executive editor Aliya Kanani said: “I believe, based on events in the last year, that this termination is based on Feds dislike for our media organization.”

As a fellow student publication, we can understand Imprint’s disappointment and the level in which they have been inconvenienced. A sufficient working environment is crucial for developing a unified student newspaper.

Beyond having the proper office space to allow the collaborative efforts of the entire team, it is simply vital to have a comfortable and inviting area where volunteers, writers and editors can spend long hours spilling blood, sweat and tears — the standards for forging quality news.

Developing news continuously replaces the old, stories continuously fluctuate, minutes turn to hours and hours to days, which is why the workplace must be able to host the chaotic nature of everyone constantly on their toes.

Unfortunately, closet space doesn’t quite cut it.

Additionally, as any communicative medium would, student publications tend to take on specific perspectives and views that can be considered controversial or problematic for other university representatives or officials. Student governments and administration alike may feel threatened — perhaps this was an attack because of Imprint’s growing critical coverage of the university.

An underlying issue here is that the organization is being undervalued as a student publication: their ‘imprint’ on the student experience is being disregarded. We understand printed news has taken a back seat in the charging truck of communicative technology. Social media like Facebook and Twitter may be accelerating at the wheel, but a student paper will always be a valuable passenger on the ride of information.

This isn’t the first instance a student government or organization has tried to belittle the student press. Western University’s student organization tried to reallocate The Gazette’s space — to much opposition — and the University of Windsor’s students’ union tried to cease The Lance’s operations.

Student newspapers have often been disregarded and left with little support from the very organizations meant to represent students and their initiatives.

As student papers, our combined efforts transcend words read on a screen.

We share news the way we believe it should be shared: with passion, truth and with the sincerity of students working for students. We depict situations beyond a 140-character limit.

We dive deep into the dirt and our hard work shows through every printed page. We are the unrestricted voice of university life.

If the Feds decided to reduce Imprint’s office space as a means of sabotaging their communicative operation, this accusation, along with the value of the student paper, suggests business ethics are being disregarded.

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