Last year, when I was the News Editor of The Medium, I was amused when a student union employee called not only every news story written about UTMSU biased, but also the editorials. How can an editorial be biased? Bias is when something is told under the influence of a particular opinion. The editorial is my opinion, and when the word “Opinion” appears above it on the same page, nobody could mistake it for fact, even though of course some people will agree and others will disagree with what I write. What would be the point of an editorial that restated the story itself, without a personal take or fuel for debate?
Despite this, some people are confused. When I pick a topic to discuss every week and write my personal thoughts on it, I take a stance and hope to stir up debate on the matter—to give people a reason to write letters to the Editor. Never in its history has The Medium, received so many letters each week, and this year, in most of the letters I’ve received, students express disappointment with UTMSU (or suggest some sort of change).
Naturally, when I write my editorial, I draw from both my own experience and what I get from the students, and I usually draw on a news article that has supplied the bare facts. And the fact that some people would prefer not to have a story published is not a reason to not publish it nor is it a reason to call the story biased.
Last week my editorial was about homophobia on campus, and how UTMSU responded to it. It wasn’t about one victim, but about the problem the case was an example of and how too often people in positions of power stay quiet on issues such as homophobia. This wasn’t about an isolated incident and I’m glad we’re still discussing it for the third week in a row. Ms. Giles herself told me she appreciated that the news article covered both aspects of the CBS policies issue. But she didn’t like the title, which said that UTMSU justified the blood ban. Instead, it should have read “according to UTMSU, the lives saved justified tolerating the blood ban”.
Whether some people oppose to our coverage, it’s our job to report on what happens and while a victim of homophobia might hope to remain anonymous, (we didn’t publish any names by the way) nobody would hope that incidents of homophobia go unaddressed or get treated as isolated cases, handled privately behind closed doors. If by shedding light on an incident we can start discussion on homophobia, I consider that something to be proud of. I’m glad people are talking about my stance, even if some people disagree with it.
The Medium will always report on what’s happening on campus, we exist to keep students informed. I’m sure UTMSU didn’t like the news coverage last year about their proxy form mismanagement or using student fees to contribute to their friend’s legal fees, much like the UCS disputed an exposition by The Medium of derogatory cheers at bizfrosh. The difference is that I’ve seen the UCS step up this year under the leadership of Rajiv Dhawan, who has made charity work a priority; they’ve also been more welcoming with their events and have been working in a positive direction. If UTMSU sees fewer letters praising them, in my opinion this reflects on them, not me.
At the end of the day, we’re all students, I believe in the basic ideologies of the student union and I know that UTMSU wants to see some sort of change. However, the change should focus on the campus that employs them (at a salary of aproximately $22,000 annually). If their goal is to be active, then maybe they should consider restructuring their system, which right now—according to the letters we get—resembles the same sort of dirty politics they themselves often criticize and rally against.
The student body is the priority; and frankly, the only way anyone will ever think of UTMSU differently is if UTMSU stops blaming others for its bad image, and steps up to do something about it.