Thursday, April 7, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Editorials are decided by a majority of the editorial board andare written by a member of the editorial board but are not nec-essarily the expressed opinion of each editorial board member.All other opinions are strictly those of the author and do not nec-essarily reflect the opinions of the USC, The Gazette, its editorsor staff.To submit a letter, go to westerngazette.ca and click on “Con-tact.”All articles, letters, photographs, graphics, illustrations and car-toons published in
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Volume 104, Issue 98www.westerngazette.caThe Gazette is owned and published by theUniversity Students’ Council.Contact:www.westerngazette.caUniversity Community CentreRm. 263The University of Western OntarioLondon, ON, CANADAN6A 3K7Editorial Offices: (519) 661-3580Advertising Dept.: (519) 661-3579
Stuart A. Thompson
Katherine Atkinson, Alli Aziz, Christian Campbell, AlexCarmona, Elliott Cohen, Adam Crozier, Angela Easby, MarkFilipowich, Jennifer Gautier, Jessica Gibbens, James Hall,Katie Hetherman, Elton Hobson, Eliot Hong, Jesica Hurst,Aras Kolya, Jay LaRochelle, Scott Leitch, Colin Lim, JaredLindzon, Alex Mackenzie, Cheryl Madliger, Pat Martini, OraMorison, Nivin Nabeel, Alan Osiovich, Maciej Pawlak,Jonathan Pinkus, Chen Rao, Cameron Smith, Cali Travis,Julian Uzielli, Scott Wheatley, Shawn Wheatley, DrewWhitson, Aaron Zaltzman, Deborah Zhu
Gloria DickieMonica BlaylockCheryl StoneKaleigh Rogers
Arts & Life
Nicole GibilliniMaddie Leznoff Amber Garratt
Daniel Da SilvaKaitlyn McGrath
Corey StanfordNyssa Kuwahara
Amani ElrofaieAnna Paliy
Sophia LemonRichard GoodineAnders Kravis
Gazette Staff 2010-2011
Ian Greaves, ManagerMaja Anjoli-Bili
Cheryl ForsterMark RitchieKaren SavinoDiana Watson
Gazette Composing & Gazette Advertising
In retrospect, the USC andGazette are two of a kind
To the Editor:
This is a warning to all students in alllibraries.With the exam period looming overthe denizens of Western, the value of library space is at a premium. By 9o’clock the libraries are packed with stu-dents stuffing as much information aspossible into their worn out brains tomake up for the fact that they haven’tdone their readings in five weeks andslept through lecture just as often.Well, sort of.You see, half the seats are usually full,while the other half have been marked as“taken” by a single sheet of paper, a cou-ple of pens, or a sweater thrown over theback of a seat to mark the territory of astudent who hasn’t stepped foot in thelibrary for hours.This exam season I’m going toassume that these articles of academia,these bits of stationary and these piecesof clothing are all items that some poorstudent has lost in their exam frenzy andwill treat such items with the respectthey deserve. I’m going to take your cor-ral-hogging shit and give them to thefront desk to keep in the lost and found,and then I’m going to take your seat, youinconsiderate bastard.
With this being the
’s last issue of Volume 104,now is a good time to reflect back on the 98 issues pub-lished this year.
, like all campus newspapers, strug-gles to define and fulfill a mandate that fluctuatesfrom year to year. Looking at today’s centre spread,it’s clear plenty of important stories — like themunicipal election — failed to resonate with readers,while less newsworthy pieces — like campus WiFi —proved exceedingly popular.It’s in this context that campus newspapers mustguide their coverage. Some papers are faulted forlooking too inward, focusing on their universitybubble instead of more significant news happen-ing elsewhere. It’s true that a mandate focused oncampus news will result in plenty of uninterestingstories. Covering campus news exclusively alsoforces newspapers to eschew more newsworthystories happening outside their mandated bubble.Some newspapers, like
, tailor contentspecifically to reader interests: shorter stories,smaller news sections, longer arts sections. Butreaders can be a fickle crowd to please, oftendemanding in-depth stories while thumbing theirway to the crossword.All campus and community papers exist in abubble. But this focus is sensible because thesenewspapers are often the only ones with a criticaleye on the goings-on of their communities. Mean-while, dozens of larger newspapers fulfill therequirement for provincial, federal or internation-al news.Campus newspapers, like all student organiza-tions, are a learning experience — one where stu-dent volunteers try, fail and succeed under publicscrutiny. There is no guidebook setting a specificpath, leaving students the opportunity to experi-ment and continually adjust their mandate.It’s here that campus newspapers can find theirsingle guiding purpose — to cover their geographi-cal area as best they can with diverse and importantstories. But while striving to fulfill this, they havethe freedom as students to experiment and mean-der, reporting on a variety of news outside of theirbubble.It’s crucial for campus and community newspa-pers to watch their communities closely with a dis-cerning and critical eye — no matter the conse-quences or sacrifices.Because if they don’t, no one will.
— The Gazette Editorial Board
So sorry,it’s over
Letters to the editorDear Life
YEAR IN REVIEW Library tenants beware
Stuart A. Thompson
It was a fitting finale yesterday when the
released its annual UniversityStudents’ Council report cards. Theseleaders represent the collective efforts of a mutli-million dollar organization. Andwhile they do important work, only somestudents will see the results.Big ticket events like the Purple Finalesucceed by following a winning formula:free lunch and free punch. Meanwhile,much of their work goes unnoticed, likelobbying the province for more access toeducation.While these leaders get the glory andthe scorn, a hefty amount of work is doneby other people: councillors, commis-sioners, volunteers and staff. So as muchas we love these evaluations, they canonly represent simple summation of acomplex year. They evaluate the leaders,while the rank-and-file go largely unno-ticed.It’s something true of the
aswell. In fact, we mirror each other moreclosely than either camps notice. We’reboth student-run, student-led organiza-tions. Our teams have similar trial-by-firementalities, succeeding and failing in thepublic eye. Our achievements go widelyunnoticed while our shortcomingsbecome the
cause de jour
for armchaircritics everywhere.There was a feeling in September thatboth groups would achieve somethingdifferent this year.At the
, we overhauled every-thing we could, including the most sig-nificant layout change in years. Much of our work has been behind the scenes, likea digital workflow that makes us online-ready, or a creative section boasting videoand graphics. It was part of a mission tomodernize the
after years of meekly playing catch-up to a changingmedium.Meanwhile, the USC dove head-firstinto a new governance structure empow-ering councillors to do work previouslyhelmed by full-time executives. Therewas a renewed spirit to involve students,emphasized by events they’d simplyappreciate, like the widely successfulPurple Fest. They had the most prudentand reasonable approach to business andfinance in years.But after months of optimism, realitysettled in. The USC floundered in han-dling the UWO Faculty Association strike,provoking a salvo of criticism from aver-age students and the
. Meanwhile,our incessant interest in USC politics andWestern news kept news coverage localwhile offering a handful of forgettablestories.Both groups are grappling with achanging and growing student body, onefar less engaged than years past. So whilethe USC preaches about getting studentsinvolved, the
pleads with readersto volunteer. But most students wantnothing to do with either of us.This should all be considered whensummarizing a year of work. That studentorganizations are always at the mercy of the people willing to do the work. Thatleaders get the brunt of criticism andpraise, but their achievements are owedto their employees, who in student circlesare the most devoted types you’ll find.Because it’s the volunteers who doobscene amounts of work for no discern-able reason. It’s their devotion to an orga-nization, a name, an idea. For newspaperfolks, it’s the
and what it repre-sents. For the politically inclined, it’s thestudent government and its aspirations.But after years at the
and aterm as editor-in-chief, I’m starting torealize we’re not so different after all.
Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end.But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
— Winston Churchill
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Your anonymous letters to life
Why would Tim Hortons raise theprices of their food when exams arejust around the corner? The cruelty!
I didn’t get a chance to write a lastopinion column, so this will have todo: Math got hard, food tastes good,university is over forever, goodbye.
Hell hath no fury like a studentscorned.Throughout this year, I’ll admit,we’ve published an article or twocalling the student demographicapathetic. But the reality is you real-ly care — some of the time.And the result is a reader filledwith so much emotion that it over-flows onto our opinions page, thewebsite — whatever medium avail-able. And that’s great. I love seeing anopen dialogue between our paperand the readers — but that wasn’talways the case.You see, I didn’t always take criti-cism well. This sentiment is sharedby many of my peers I’m sure.Spending hours poring over theintroduction of your final essay onlyto receive a mediocre grade could becompared to agonizing over the per-fect lede only to have a reader com-ment on a poorly phrased sentenceburied in the last paragraphs. “Butthey’re missing the point,” might bea common exasperation.But whether it’s constructive,useless or downright mean, criticismis a good thing. It forces you to jus-tify a point you’ve made public andchallenges you to cover all yourangles next time. For every sentenceI write, I now have four more sen-tences in the back of my mind readyto defend that point. Criticism forcesyou to stand by your convictions,has the potential to discredit you,but helps you improve next time.The more criticism the better. Ithelps you distinguish between theindividuals that want to help youimprove in the long run, and thosewho are just looking to have theirvoices heard. And either one is okay.Take feedback and use it when it’soffered. But if a person is just lookingto vent, remember heated discussionis better than no discussion at all.That’s the biggest thing I’ve learnedat my time at the
.Oh, and never quote someoneelse as your final thought. It’s a copout — you should be able to phraseyour thoughts with more convictionthan anyone else can.
Hayes’d and Confused, one last time
There’s a certain note of finality toany piece of writing I’ve producedfor the
over the years. Onceit heads off to the printer, the wordsI put down on the page aren’t goingto change, no matter how much Imay wish to have another crack atit.So it’s with a certain amount of consternation that I approach this,the last “Hayes’d and Confused” I’llever write for the
. ThoughI’ve covered a variety of issues overthe years — from salvia divinorum toetiquette among Canadian politicalparties — having to provide an epi-taph has proven to be the most dif-ficult.Traditionally, these last–issuecolumns are offered to the paper’sFront Office to give them one lastkick at the can. Some choose to writeshout–outs to those who made theiryear extra special, others attempt topass on information to future gen-erations of Gazetters.I’m also positive these columnshave never in any way been used asa way to fill space at a time of yearwhen many section editors are con-cerned with final papers and exams.So where to start? I began at thepaper as a volunteer in my first yearat Western, back in ‘06/’07. I saw theeffects of the Spoof Issue of that yearand watched as the paper emergedfrom the ashes the next yearstronger than ever — if perhaps witha less cavalier attitude. And whileother volumes may not have seen asdramatic a change from year–to–year, each volume of the paper hasbeen as unique as the individualswho wrote them.It’s both the most exciting anddepressing part of the
.Though every year provides newand exciting opportunities, we alsolose unique and talented individualsat the end of every year.It’s something symptomatic of the university system. We forget thatwith most students in school for fouryears, it only takes two years for half the students to be unaware of anevent. You may be able to look to thestudent newspaper to provide con-text to current events, but we’reprone to exactly the same problems.Sure, we attempt to circumventthis problem by writing reportsspanning the entire year, but they’rea poor substitute for an actual per-son who can answer questions andinteract with you.But maybe things are better thatway. Sometimes it’s better to nothave to face a situation withoutsomeone telling you it was triedbefore and didn’t work — havingfreedom to make mistakes is often-times the most important mecha-nism for learning.So to look ahead to the futuregenerations who may read the wordsI’ve written — highly unlikely, consid-ering the amount of dust our backissues are currently gathering in theoffice — I’d say make mistakes. Learnfrom them, but also revel in them.If everyone loves you or every-one hates you, you’re doing some-thing wrong. But if there’s a group of readers willing to storm the officeand another group of equal size will-ing to stand in front of them,chances are you’re doing somethingright.The
should always belooking for the difficult news sto-ries. But we also shouldn’t be afraidto have fun. Unfortunately, with anincreasing blur between campusnewspapers and smaller–focuslocal papers, the irreverence of yoremay be relegated to the dustbin of history.But for someone who was giventhe blessing by his boss to try to doThe Spoke’s Around the World of Beer Tour in one day, I hope the
still retains a little bit of cheekiness far into the future. Afterall, a sense of humour is a terriblething to waste.