Last week’s editorial, as well as the news article “UTMSU denies a student attendance at CFS meeting,” caused quite a stir: we received over 1,000 hits on our website on Monday alone, had a few students comment on our blog, and were even quoted on the Macleans oncampus site. We also received a letter from the UTMSU, signed by all the UTMSU executive member—a first in the time since I’ve been Editor-in-Chief, if not longer.
The attention is not surprising. Following UTMSU’s rejection of Stefanie Marotta, one of our assistant editors, as a delegate to the Canadian Federation of Students’ semi-Annual General Meeting, we reported that all the delegates approved by the UTMSU to attend this AGM fall into a category created by the CFS that includes, among others, students of colour, students with disabilities, international students, and students who identify themselves as members of the LGBTQ community.
We then quoted UTMSU President Joey Santiago as he defended the Union’s decision. He denied that it was prompted by either the assistant editor’s affiliation with our newspaper or the cost of sending a Caucasian, English-speaking female to the AGM. In the same article, however, UTMSU VP External Henry Ssali went on record to deny UTMSUs arguments. This led me, in my last editorial, to denounce the injustice of separating students by colour of skin or affiliation with campus organizations.
In this week’s Letter to the Editor, UTMSU executives accused us of lying. I won’t explain why this is a lie on its own—Saaliha Malik, our News Editor and the writer of the original article, took it upon herself to defend our position. Her arguments can be read in the Op-Ed beside this Editorial. As for Mr. Ssali, he also had a few things to say, so he sent us a letter of his own.
The main point I’d like to address here is the so-called conflict of interest that would take place, should one of our writers or assistant editors become involved in CFS- or UTM-organized events. I won’t pretend that such a conflict is impossible, which is the reason why editors of The Medium cannot work for the UTMSU (nor can they be, for that matter, club presidents). This is the same reason why Marc Bressler, formerly with our Board of Directors, resigned when he became President of the Residence Council.
But Stefanie Marotta is not an editor with The Medium—she is an assistant editor. Nothing in our regulations prevents us from telling her what activities to participate in or which organizations to join. Like it or not, we have little control over what our writers do at UTM, and that’s the way it should be. We are a campus newspaper, paid for mostly by levies collected from students, and we can’t enjoy the same freedom that The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star and The National Post do when they hire their staff. Unless someone expects to work for us and get paid for it, they should feel free to join other campus organizations. Problems may arise—we’ll deal with them as they do. They will be far less serious than us deciding who gets to do what when we don’t have the authority to do so.