Editorial Pages

Where you live:

AU students are situated all around the world, and on every continent [well, probably not Antarctica, but you never know!]. A reader suggested that it would be interesting to receive articles from AU students about the place where they live – sort of a city profile. If any reader wants to send in a brief article about their home town, city, or country, contact voice@ausu.org for details.

Council reporters wanted

The Voice needs reporters who are able to write clear, critical and balanced reviews of what goes on at AUSU council meetings. Meetings take place about once a month, and may be attended by teleconference from almost anywhere in the world. Inquire with the Voice editor at voice@ausu.org if you would like more information on this opportunity. Did I mention we pay?

Tutor Bios

I’ve been asked why I never run bios of AU tutors in The Voice. The reason is that AUSU already does these. Check out the AUSU tutor page at: http://www.ausu.org/tutor/index.php. A new tutor bio will be posted this week. If you know of a tutor you would like profiled, write Mac McInnis at mmcinnis@athbascau.ca.

Student Bios

Student bios are another issue. We do run those, and love to get them! If you are an AU student, willing to be profiled in The Voice, contact me at voice@ausu.org.

Now I understand how Urban Legends begin:

I’d like to begin by stating that this editorial is most certainly not about Sandra Moore, her resignation from AUSU council, or any council activities relating to that issue which has long since been hashed out, and re-hashed in other forums. This is about misconceptions, misinformation, and the curious way in which articles can so easily be re-interpreted (and even reinvented) as a result of public commentary.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a council meeting report [v11 i51] where I stated that VP Moore had resigned from council, that there had been two motions on the table, and that another councillor had departed. I have since been told that the article revealed the AUSU side of the story, but not Ms. Moore’s side, and that in my coverage I made statements about why Ms. Moore resigned.

The actual report, however, did not even broach the subject of why she resigned, and what it did contain was an account of the factual occurances which should not have sides. If council passes a motion, has a discussion, or revises a policy, then that is what happened, and that is the only ‘side’ that was given.

Not a single item on the motion of removal against Ms. Moore was even mentioned, let alone commented upon by council! So no sides of that particular issue have been given, to date (at least not in The Voice).

Two weeks after my report [v12 i01], a Voice writer wrote an article in which she stated her personal opinion on one of Ms. Moore’s forums posts, and then she went on – for the bulk of the article – to explore issues which recent events had brought to light. Specifically, she talked about how council should be informing students of important changes in council, how confidential information should be presented, etc.

Again, I have heard that this article contained the council point of view on Ms. Moore’s situation.

This is even more curious, since Ms. Maguire is not on council.

But, it has been argued, AUSU President Debbie Jabbour, and I, a council employee, commented about Ms. Moore’s resignation within Ms. Maguire’s article.

In reality, Ms. Jabbour did not make a single comment – not one – about Ms. Moore, her resignation, or any of the issues that were brought out in the motion of removal. Further, my own comments were confined to the issue of getting AUSU Council Meeting coverage for The Voice. The bulk of the article was a philosophical discussion on how sensitive material should be protected and presented, and in this context Ms. Moore’s posts were simply a catalyst for dicsussion on larger issues. No council views on her situation were given.

Nevertheless, I’ve been questioned as to why we both commented on Ms. Moore’s situation within the article.

I’ve been so confounded by this, that I’ve asked people: What is the AUSU side of the story, as presented in The Voice? So far, no one has been able to answer this (I’m not saying it’s unanswerable).

It seems to me that readers have read comments in the AUSU forums regarding what was contained in the Voice articles, and these statements have taken on a greater reality than the content of the articles themselves. I’ve heard three times that I’ve given reasons why Ms. Moore resigned from council. It is strange that those who have made these comments aren’t sure what those reasons are.

It seems as though people simply believe that this has happened, based on the principle that no one would refute something, unless it had actually been said!

Given that we are an audience of university students, I would hope that going to the source would be the first step when concerns about an article are raised. In other words, read the article! Surely if someone told me that a writer had made a racist comment in an article, I would read the article and try to locate that comment before branding the writer as racist!

I love it when people ask questions about Voice articles, and even when you disagree with something I have said, but I have a request for you: before asking about the content of an article, please read it. I can’t comment on what someone else wrote in a totally different publication or public forum. If you wish to question or refute any particular statement that I have made, or which the Voice has presented, please do. If you hate my coverage of an issue, that’s fine too. I work for you, after all.

But before suggesting that our coverage of an issue has been one sided, check to see if any sides have been presented at all! Remember, the purpose of a council meeting report is to report on what happened at a council meeting.

I realize that students may be feeling confused right now because of many vague and suggestive statements made by ex-council members, stating that council is corrupt. However, those comments have not been followed up with any further information or proof, which I think makes a very clear statement. Disgruntled ex-employees are not an uncommon thing, for a student council, or for any business. I understand, though, that students get worried when they are not sure if claims of corruption are true or not.

I think the answer to that question lies in a critical reading of the accusations, and a search for any proof of said allegations. If no details are given, is it really something you can believe? Would you include such angry and vague suggestions of facts within one of your term papers? I wouldn’t. Nor would I want to publish them in The Voice. Keep in mind also, that when there are no actual details given to back up complaints, then there is nothing that council, can refute!

I’m waiting with great anticipation along with the rest of you for one ex-council member to follow through on his promise to present us with some shocking information about council (I’d even do an interview, if he wants). It’s all very mysterious! Until he does provide this information, however, I don’t think I’ll be putting much stock in vague and angry claims. In my two years with council, there has been a long list of people who have become angry with council and made a lot of ugly statements (six out of seven of them are ex-council members who left under uncomfortable circumstances). It comes with the territory, and this won’t be the last time it happens, no matter who is on council.

Fortunately, the result of this has been that I have received several replies to my request for council reporters. Three students, who have no ties to council, have said they are interested in reporting on what happens in council meetings, and I’m looking forward to presenting their coverage to Voice readers in the near future.

If conflict and accusations are what it takes to build a student interest in the activities of your council, then it’s hard to say that the negativity is all bad. It would be really unfortuante if a student in need did not feel that they could go to their student union for help, or to their student magazine with a negative comment about council. But, if the larger result is that you are now all quite interested in what council does (and the large number of candidates for the upcoming election suggests that this is so), then something very good has come of all this! It is very encouraging to see so many new faces on the ballot this time.

Oh, and since it can’t be said enough – your Voice editor is not a member of AUSU council. Any views expressed in Voice editorials are my own.

That’s it for me today: after 2 weeks of freezing my can off, I’m going out to make a snowman and enjoy the sun while it lasts!

Tamra Ross Low – Editor in Chief