Election season hits King’s next week. Speeches will be filled with the usual bullshit of “more transparency, student activism and trend X to be applied to TWAK” (what’ll it be next? Holograms? Morse Code? Smoke signals?!).
You can guarantee The Watch will follow it every step of the way, live-tweeting speeches and providing critical coverage. If we don’t tell you the pros and cons, ins and outs, and goals of each candidate, then who will? The Watch is here to provide more than just the candidate platform, and we’re proud to say there’s not a damn thing anyone can do about it.
At Acadia, it’s a different story.
Acadia is currently in the middle of election season. Its student paper, the Athenaeum, can’t bring you the sort of coverage you’d see in the Dal Gazette or The Watch.
There’s only one thing to blame: the Acadia Students’ Union constitution.
The Athenaeum is considered “Union Media”, but the ASU can’t touch the paper for most of the school year. They’re basically a free press.
But during election season, the newspaper wears the ASU’s leash (kinky, we know!).
The constitution says the Ath has to include a head-shot photo of each candidate and their platform. Nothing else. That’s all students at Acadia can learn when they pick up a copy of their campus newspaper.
Last night, the ASU censored a piece on the Ath’s website. They could only get away with it because of the pesky constitution.
Iain Bauer, opinions editor at the Ath, wrote about the resignation of ASU Vice President of Communications Grant Oyston. You might remember Oyston as the guy who started the Visible Children Tumblr, a huge part of the Kony backlash last year.
In the article, Bauer suggests Oyston’s resignation was not for “personal reasons”, but because of ASU President Matt Rios. Immediately after his resignation, Oyston threw in his support for Rios’ election opponent, Beth Barkhouse.
A version of the piece is online at the Ath’s website, but it’s not the original one. That’s because the ASU censored it.
The ASU told the Ath to edit the story. They claimed the Ath was “endorsing a candidate”. But that proves only a very basic read of the story.
From our newsroom, it looks like the ASU couldn’t handle criticism and decided to cash in on their once-a-year opportunity to muzzle the paper.
Free Acadia: An anonymous Tumblr user uploaded the original, unedited piece last night
Forgive us for being presumptuous, but it appears the ASU censored the piece because Rios didn’t want his throne challenged.
Bauer doesn’t agree with the censorship.
“If this was an issue about the article I wrote endorsing a candidate, or attacking them, then it would have been a different matter,” says Bauer. “In this case, I reported quotes and put several coincidences together and said ‘Isn’t this remarkable?’ To me, if that’s going to be interpreted as advertising a candidate, then any news around election season is going to advertise a candidate.”
Athenaeum Editor-in-Chief Qasim Kareemi agrees the Ath is being restricted.
“The wording is just dumb. ‘No candidacy shall in any way be advertised or supported.’ That’s way too far reaching. It basically doesn’t allow us to say much in the paper about elections that are upcoming. And what else is a student newspaper for? The aspect of not being able to report or really openly discuss the elections is ridiculous.”
Here at The Watch, we’re throwing our support and solidarity behind the Athenaeum.
We may squabble with the KSU, but we see them as equals and value our relationship with all union councilors and exec. That said, we value our free press.
We wish the Athenaeum a future in fearless storytelling, the same type of storytelling we pursue every day,
Ben and Rachel
The Ath’s original, unpublished piece on Oyston’s resignation