As I went around gathering information and facts on the Undergraduate Commerce Society (UCS) and their Biz Frosh fiasco (re: UCS under fire for Biz Frosh chants on the front page), it surprised me to find so much animosity and ill-feelings between The Medium and various student organizations on campus.
A couple of months ago, I learned that our campus radio station, CFRE, never got along with us editors at The Medium. Apparently, past articles written by editors some five or six years ago which were slanted against CFRE did the damage. Ive since attempted to repair bridges with our media counterparts, citing that whatever happened in the past didnt involve anyone currently at the paper and vice-versa. Thankfully, CFRE reciprocated with a mature stance, and all is now well between us, on the surface at least — we publish CD reviews for them, and they liaise regularly with our A&E section regarding any notable music events on campus.
A few days ago, I realized UCS shared a similar sense of bitterness towards us student journalists. The reason? I honestly dont know. Whatever it is, I cant begin to think its in any way justifiable. Ive been an editor at The Medium over three years now, and I cant recall any dealings — good or bad — with the UCS community.
When I approached both the UCS president and Biz Frosh coordinator for comments, I was responded to with a rather hostile no. To elaborate in further detail, they felt we had no business printing their affairs in the campus newspaper. Well, this is campus news, I replied. We have to cover it. Why? was the repeated question thrown back at me.
Well UCS, Ill tell you why.
When something occurs during a campus event that stirs controversy and is dealt with on an administrative level, then that is news. When a student files a complaint because he or she has felt discriminated against or even uncomfortable with the goings-on of a campus event, that is news. When the Student Union is involved, simply, that is news. There is no inconsistency here. A few months ago when The Medium printed the word fag in the now defunct blurb section of the newspaper, that became news — sensational news that circulated all around campus I might add. Remember when everyone —students and faculty who had never read the newspaper prior to the incident — began picking up the issue from the stands that week? I remember that whole incident well. I also remember the barrage of letters I received following the debacle, and of course having to apologize the following week.
So why should UCS be any different? Why should they feel themselves exempt from not only apologizing and recanting their actions, but also from adopting a policy implemented to eradicate such lewd and suggestive behaviour? According to Dr. Hugh Gunz, Chair of the Department of Management at UTM, its been said that the chants are considered important because its always been part of the UCS culture. Aside from wondering why UCS execs would regard such — and Im just going to be blunt here — lame cheers to be a proud part of their culture, Im also wondering about the notion of that particular culture itself.
As mentioned earlier, the blurb section of the newspaper — the random ramblings in tiny font under the editorial — has since been done away with. For as long as I can remember, the blurb has always been a tradition of The Medium. And I say tradition here in the same sense that UCS refers to their culture.
Many have lamented over my decision to remove the blurb, past editors have even berated me for being so arrogant: How could you cease tradition? While its sometimes difficult to answer that question directly, my stance on the matter is clear. If The Medium is moving towards as high a level of professionalism as possible, then there is simply no place for such a thing. Besides, this way, theres less chance of getting into trouble, I usually add.
If year after year, complaints are filed against the chants and cheers occurring at Biz Frosh, why wont the UCS council do away with them? Its not as if theyd have to revamp the entire cheer repertoire, its only two or three chants that are considered offensive. Why is tradition and culture so important that we often feel so disinclined to change it? Especially when that tradition simply doesnt fit in with the sign of the times. Seriously, quo bono? Past editors and Frosh leaders who no longer have a stake in anything?
After only a month in charge at this newspaper, I learned the hard way about risqué traditions and how theres no place for it in todays positive space society. Perhaps its time UCS learned the same thing.