Editorial – What Now?

Well.

That was an interesting week.

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, last week was possibly the last issue of The Voice Magazine, as there was an AGM scheduled on Tuesday that could have removed the protection and the funding that students had previously asked AUSU guarantee The Voice Magazine. As You’re reading this, however, that obviously didn’t happen.

A quick run-down of the events. I managed to find that following that AGM, there was to be a regular public Council Meeting, one that hadn’t been announced in any of AUSU’s social media or on their website. The agenda for that meeting initially contained a ratification of an email motion where Council moved money from the office staff budget to the budget for the Executive Councillor Wages. I reported on this, as best I could, calculating based on the numbers I could find in AUSU’s own policies, as well as from other students unions around the web. I found that the President’s wages, benefits included, had gone up to over $50,000. A wage increase of somewhere around $15,000. I pointed out how the new wage seemed very high in comparison with a number of other students unions. And if it seems I’m being a little vague here, That’s because of what happened next.

On Monday, the 20th, I was told by the new VP External, acting in her new role of EiC, that AUSU had received a complaint about the article, and demanded I remove all false statements from it or it would be taken down. So far as I was aware, there were no false statements in it. I was careful to point out that I was just calculating based on the numbers I had, and I knew that I didn’t have all the information, so my calculations could be off. That wasn’t good enough, apparently, and the article came down. Then the entire issue came down, because, as it was explained to me, they didn’t know how to take the one story out of the PDF version of The Voice Magazine.

To date, I should point out, I have yet to see any evidence that this claim actually exists. It is entirely possible that the Executive, or at least someone on the Executive, could simply have decided they didn’t like my exposure of what they’d done, and so had the article pulled, violating bylaws in the process. I think It’s also worth pointing out that AUSU remains protected by those very bylaws, since they indicate that The Voice Magazine has autonomy, so AUSU is not responsible for the articles published therein.

Since then, I’ve been contacted by AUSU’s lawyer, asking to provide verification of a number of the claims made in the article, including some items that I took directly from AUSU policies on their website. I’ve provided my verification, and been told that there will be a response next week. Essentially censoring the entire article for the entire week, making sure that by the time it goes back up, it will no longer be part of the issue on the website.

Hm. That wasn’t that quick of a run-down anyway, was it? In any event, that puts us where we are today. At this point on Friday, the article still isn’t posted. I still don’t know who made the claim, though I’m being given every assurance by the VP External that one exists and that AUSU’s attorney has indeed seen it before sending the request for verification. Now, in total fairness to the VP External, She’s brand new to the exec position, and got dumped into this whole mess within her first few days, She’s never been an editor, has no experience with publications, and, given that my previous coverage of her hasn’t been exactly flattering, has been understandably concerned about what she might be getting into. I’m certainly willing to believe this is more a case of error than of malice.

But that doesn’t change how I’m now having serious doubts about the ability of The Voice Magazine to publish without interference from AUSU Council, from the very people it is supposed to be reporting on.

Fortunately, the purpose of the bylaw when it was originally put in (and I know this because I was at the AGM when students did it, yes, I’m that old) was that The Voice Magazine has accumulated some significant reserves. It’s done that. Enough so that now might be the time to start serious discussions about how The Voice Magazine can fully separate from AUSU, complete with running referendums so that we can have access to advertise to every AU student, and have an oversight board comprised of AU students to ensure that You’re getting the publication that serves the students best for news, reviews, advice, entertainment, and, of course, reporting on the activities of AUSU.

And in addition to that, this week we also have everything from Alberta Election Coverage to how to apply for AUSU Awards before the upcoming deadline, to an excuse you might not have thought of as to why You’re busy procrastinating right now with The Voice Magazine instead of doing your studies! Enjoy the read!

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