Editorial – The Importance of Independence

There’s a lot of good stuff in this issue, such as Philip Kirkbride’s Travelling Student, which this week includes a link to a video of his moped trip in Hawaii, and our latest interview with student and former AUSU Councillor, Evan Schmidt. But I’m finding it hard to concentrate on them because they may be some of the last articles we ever see in The Voice Magazine.

You read that correctly. The Voice Magazine has been publishing since almost the inception of AUSU. It was one of the very first things that students funded, and has grown from a small, eight page publication mailed out at great cost to the students two or three times a year, to the current 25-30 pages of AU student-focussed content that comes out almost every single week for just under $0.40/credit. And it may not be around for much longer.

Barb Lehtiniemi goes into detail with her Feature Article “Stop the Press?”, but the short version is that AUSU Council announced their AGM, and one of the motions they want to bring forward threatens the independence, possibly the very existence, of The Voice Magazine. I say “possibly” because, as yet, nobody on AUSU Council has responded to my requests for the wording of this motion, which may change both The Voice’s guarantee of independence, and its guarantee of funding from AUSU. These are guarantees that the students before thought was important enough to put into the bylaws, so that no individual Council could ever get rid of it without going through the students membership.

These guarantees are what allow me to pay students like you who write for The Voice Magazine, and spend my time editing their work and helping them become better writers. they’re what allow me to connect to other students throughout the AUSU membership, and bring you their stories in the Minds We Meet column, or get more in-depth with the tutors and professors who teach us in every installment of Meeting The minds, and let me turn you on to unusual movies and music through our music reviews and columns like The Mindful Bard and Gregor’s Bed. (Seriously, if you haven’t seen Nebraska yet You’re missing out. It’s on Netflix now.)

Most importantly, however, these guarantees are what allow me to print reports on things like when this AUSU Council decided to extend its vacation time by a third, or decided that lobbying for more student funding for needy students was “unrealistic” and not something it wanted to be doing. This independent voice is, in my opinion, not only essential to make sure not only that you, as students, are aware of what is doing in your name but that, more importantly, that Council knows you’ll be made aware.

More personally, It’s a job I love and definitely want to continue. Getting to know students as writers, or through the interviews, helping them with their writing, and yes, paying students for their work, are all things I find fulfilling and don’t want to leave behind.

And it may all be under threat.

But that doesn’t mean all is lost, however. If you think It’s important to keep an independent Voice around, you can help. Write AUSU at ausu@ausu.org and ask to attend the AGM. It’s on Tuesday, April 21st at 5:30 pm, and you can attend through your phone on the toll-free number, or through the internet if you have a microphone and speakers attached to your computer. If You’re an undergraduate student you have a right to attend, to make your voice heard, and to vote on any motions put forward during the meeting.

You can also help by telling your friends and classmates through the various forums on AU or Facebook pages where you know AU students will see your message. Even if they don’t regularly read The Voice Magazine themselves, they may feel It’s important there be some independent reporting of what AUSU Council is doing for the money you give.

Another thing you can do to help is to take this survey so that we can get some idea of the number of people who think It’s important that we keep an independent Voice running and publishing, and spread that link around as well.

It’s your student union, It’s your student union fees, and It’s your bylaws that are being changed here. You have a right to have your say about how it is done and what is done with them.

Unfortunately, without knowing the text of the motion, we have no way of knowing what AUSU Council is planning to do with your fees, or with the Voice. All we know is that it will be replacing what currently keeps The Voice Magazine funded and independent. Replacing it with what it calls a Writer In Residence, something that doesn’t sound like it will maintain any independence in its reporting.

I’m hoping that you, like me, think that an independent Voice is an important part of your student experience. That, whether you read it or not, having it there serves your needs by helping to safeguard the funds you entrust to the Students’ Union. And I’m hoping that you’ll think It’s important enough to take action.

Fill out the survey. Attend the AGM.

And until the 21st, enjoy the read.

Who knows, it may be one of the last times you get to.

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