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Arts & Culture Opinions

Letters to the Editors

January 28, 2012

ON CANTEEN COVERAGE

1. We were distressed to read the Watch Magazine’s supplemental piece this month regarding the referendum, as there were several incidences of misinformation.
There are several points on which the Watch Magazine supplement was incorrect: there is a KSU referendum policy and it is being followed; the KSU executive, contrary to the way in which they were presented in the articles, is not required to be an unbiased party; this is not a KSU-run referendum, it is run by the Chief Returning Officer (CRO) and the Elections Committee, none of whom were approached for comment on the running of the referendum; lastly, the way in which the financial situation was presented was inaccurate and incomplete and the Elections Committee had to work very hard to re-inform students of the proposed business plan, as well as the projected opening date.
First, the most serious claim: referendum policy. Elections Committee was shocked to see the stories run without having anyone on the committee or the CRO interviewed. We have been working very hard to ensure that the referendum is run according to the KSU Procedural Handbook.
The only section not followed exactly was 74 in that we were unable to hold the forum within 14 days of the motion passing. This was because it would have been during the Christmas break, when no students were on campus. We ran it as soon after term began as we felt there would be enough students on campus to give everyone a fair chance to hear both sides of the debate.
At the town hall on Jan.10, we had speakers for, and speakers against. In the interest of unbiased opinion, the KSU executive felt that they could not appoint a speaker to argue against the motion and still be seen as a fair member of the debate. Elections Committee reached out to many people requesting a speaker, but no one stepped forward. It is true that Niko Bell and Judy Booth were only confirmed a short time before the debate, but no one could possibly argue that they were not infinitely well informed with the issue. They argued extremely well against the KSU executive’s motion, and the students who did decide to attend were party to an extremely lively and opinionated debate.
The policy of the KSU Procedural Handbook states that the referendum is run by the Elections Committee NOT the KSU or the KSU executive, and as such the KSU representatives and executive are not required to be unbiased. The only parties required to be unbiased in the referendum are the CRO and members of the Elections Committee. We are proud to say that we have done our best to inform the student body without showing bias.
The KSU executives are the creators of the canteen initiative, and so are of course not unbiased. They have created a plan that they feel best represents the needs and wants of students. The move to interview potential employees is not a “gesture of self-assurance” as you state, but a preemptive move to ensure that should the motion be passed, the business can open as soon as possible.
Had the Watch journalists read through the Procedural Handbook, and had they chosen to speak to the CRO or any member of the Elections Committee, they would have realized that we are the only unbiased parties in this referendum. The KSU executive cannot be unbiased, and they recognized this, and felt they could not in good faith appoint someone to argue against itself. That would have been akin to a single-party election.
Regarding the financial situation, the link supplied by Bell’s article is out of date, and states “Unfortunately, we cannot provide specific numbers until we have finished negotiations with the university,” so we are unsure where the Watch sourced the quoted numbers. However, the business plan as it stands to be voted for or against in this referendum is that $75,000 is to be paid to the university to cover renovation costs and potential future structural issues. It assures the KSU guaranteed use of the space for five years. A further $5,000 is to be paid as rent for the space, and further costs involved in sourcing food and beverage and in paying student employees would be covered by the sales proceeds. Should the venture fail in the next five years, this $75,000 will be returned to the KSU in its entirety. The worst-case-scenario potential net losses would run in the range of $15,000-$20,000. All of this money would be sourced from the GIC liquidation and the levy, and does not affect the KSU annual operating budget. Contrary to what was published, the projected opening date for the canteen, should the referendum motion pass, would be in late January or early February, and not next year.
In addition, the CRO intends on making suggestions regarding the Referenda Procedure to the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) as to avoid confusion of how exactly to run a referenda in future. These suggestions will go to the CRC within the next month, and then passed by the general student body at the Spring General Meeting (Date TBA). Any input from students is gladly welcomed.
With Respect,
The CRO and Elections Committee (Stephanie Duchon, Phoebe Mannell, Bethany Hindmarsh, Taylor Saracuse, Carmi Yonah Sienna, Melanie Higgins, Evan McIntyre)
N.B. Bethany Hindmarsh is on the Watch Executive.
WATCH response: We are very proud of our coverage of the Canteen referendum. We brought accurate, timely information to the student population, information we hope students found helpful in making their decision in the referendum. We regret that the original article contained two errors, but they were quickly addressed, and the proper information disseminated.
Short of disagreeing with the letter line by line, we can offer these responses:
The financial numbers included were from the union executive members. One would hope they do not spread misinformation. The article also stated that the Canteen would open before the end of the year, which does not disagree with an opening date next month.
The procedure for one speaker for one against was fulfilled only after The Watch published concerns that the procedure was not being followed. It was corrected five minutes before the forum began. This does not allow even ground on a critical discussion on the future of the Canteen and the union. We hope that in the future, this important procedure is followed more fairly.
We understand that the Chief Returning Officer runs the election in an unbiased, bureaucratic role. It is, however, the responsibility of the elected union officials to ensure the proper running of the union, and we want to hold them to this responsibility.
We’re glad the KSU will take advantage of this referendum to learn to improve referendum procedures for the future.

ON SELLING SHORT

Today whilst browsing Facebook I was surprised to find an advertisement from the King’s Journalism School which reads “At King’s/Dal, you can earn a Bachelor of Journalism and a Masters of Journalism in 18 months. It’s affordable and international.” Although I completely understand the motivation behind this (King’s needs more money), I can’t see how this method of marketing is in any way appropriate (the ad is below an ad for clothing accessories), or conducive to this school’s reputation (the last advertisement I saw in a public forum for an educational institution was for DeVry).
As both a King’s student and a journalism student, I am proud of this school’s traditions, passionate educators and socially active/conscious student body, not its efficiency in creating letters after a person’s name. Especially since in 21st century journalism, success is determined by a person’s portfolio and contacts.
The Journalism School has made an effort to educate us for an industry that is growing to be increasingly web- and multimedia-based. However, I don’t believe that this method of communication is an effective way of getting the word out. I understand that Facebook’s advertisers do an effective job of market research, bringing a client’s message to the right people. But I doubt that someone will find their future career whilst untagging drunk photos of themselves or commenting on drunk photos of their friends.
All in all, I find this method of communication to be ineffective, inappropriate, and an ill representation of our school and its reputation. I feel embarrassed as a student to be a part of a department so devoted to the effective transmission of information, yet which uses such an informal method of communication. Needless to say, I was not impressed with this advertisement’s claim that I endorsed it. I will certainly ‘unlike’ this page.
Evan McIntyre
Correction:
In the Watch supplement published on January 10, the article “Student referendum to decide fate of school canteen” incorrectly stated the students’ union doesn’t have a procedure for referenda. In addition, the Canteen will be called simply King’s Galley, not HMCS King’s Galley.
The Watch regrets these errors.

By David J. Shuman

David is a second-year journalism student at King's, is engagement/news editor of The Watch, and a copy editor of The Pigeon. He writes on student politics, campus happenings, and school news. 

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