Tuesday, April 01, 2008

RMC ads banned at University of Ottawa student paper...

...along with any others connected to the CF/DND. From an editorial in the Fulcrum:

THIS ISSUE MARKS the last issue of the Fulcrum in which an advertisement for the Canadian Armed Forces, any of its subsidiaries, or anything involving military recruitment will run. Beyond obvious organizations like the army, navy, or air force, as of May 1, 2008, we will no longer accept ads from the likes of the Royal Military College, the National Search and Rescue Secretariat, or anything else that falls under the Department of National Defence umbrella.

The Fulcrum’s annual general meeting (AGM), held in the Unicentre on March 19, marked a number of firsts for our publication (“our” referring to the U of O student body, not merely its editorial staff), not the least of which was the substantial turnout. This year marked the Fulcrum’s third AGM since its independence from the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO). These AGMs serve as an opportunity for all students at the U of O—both graduate and undergrad—to gather, elect members to our board of directors, enact policy, and hear updates on how the paper is doing from a business perspective. At the previous two meetings, attendance was miniscule, barely making the quorum of 35 voters both years. In comparison, this year’s meeting saw at least 178 members cast their vote.

Perhaps a more notable first, though, from our staff’s perspective, was the motion that the vast majority of those at the meeting came to vote on regarding a boycott of National Defence advertisements. It eventually passed [93 for the boycott, 85 against], making the Canadian military the first organization to be boycotted by the Fulcrum (at least in institutional memory)...
The editorial has, I think, a very reasonable conclusion:

The right for U of O students to have a say in how the Fulcrum is run is not in question here, but whether this was the right manner in which to bring about such a discussion is. Had we have received a single letter to the editor questioning our advertising policy to spark the debate prior to the meeting and inform more of the readership of any concerns, it would have been a different story. Particularly when so many of the people in favour of the boycott have never been shy about writing letters on previous issues.

It was disheartening to see that the majority of students that spoke at this meeting were heavily involved with the two organizations on campus the Fulcrum works hard to be politically independent from--the SFUO and the Graduate Students’ Association. At the next SFUO Board of Administration (BOA) meeting at 1 p.m. on April 6 in the Senate room of Tabaret (083), there will be a discussion about whether the SFUO should endorse a campaign to end the war in Afghanistan. With this boycott in recent memory, we encourage the BOA to think about how level the playing field really is for the significant number of students that don’t agree with this position. This motion has politicized the advertising policies of campus media, and if this campaign is adopted, the climate on campus will not be one of debate, but of one-sided rhetoric courtesy of those elected to represent the interests of all students that attend classes at this university.

The Fulcrum has never taken a position on the war in Afghanistan or whether Canada should have a military at all. That’s a stand that can be taken by every student at the University of Ottawa on his or her own. Feel free to tell us what you decide.
Ah, the power of organized, ideological minorities. Here's the audio of an interview with the paper's editor-in-chief this morning on CBC radio, Ottawa.

H/t to Ken Edwards for the info and links.


Blogger WE Speak said...

All CF/DND pers in Ottawa should take note of the remainder of the advertisers in the Fulcrum and decline to do business with them as long as they do business with the Fulcrum. Boycotts work both ways.

2:32 p.m., April 01, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My respect for the University of Ottawa just dropped another notch...

2:43 p.m., April 01, 2008  
Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Heck, if one tenth of the DND employees in Ottawa just wrote a letter to the other advertisers, those businesses would realize they simply can't afford to stay on with the publication.

Good thinking, BBS.

4:38 p.m., April 01, 2008  
Blogger WE Speak said...

I have someone in Ottawa picking up a print edition of the paper. He's going to list all the subscribers. We'll compile contact information and then encourage people to contact them with their concerns.

BTW, I applaud the staff of the Fulcrum on their stand regarding this issue. It should be noted that this position is not supported by the staff, it was forced on them by an organized anti-war group at the paper's AGM.

I'm not sure what the paper's rules are, but if we can get enough advertisers to commit to withdrawing their business, it may allow the paper to call a special AGM to reconsider.

10:00 p.m., April 01, 2008  
Blogger KURSK said...

"The Fulcrum has never taken a position on the war in Afghanistan or whether Canada should have a military at all."

The first point is debatable, the second..there should be no doubt of at all, much to the chagrin (i am sure..) of the useful idiots in the student unions..how nice it must be to bite the hand that guarantees the right of these idealogues to spout such nonsense.

9:05 a.m., April 02, 2008  
Blogger rFinn said...

For those voicing their support of an advertising boycott of the Fulcrum by local businesses, I hope you'll think critically about the effect that something like this would have on our paper. A loss of revenue would not mean that the paper would stop publishing or that the average student on campus (and those students who were in favour of the boycott) would see much difference at all. In fact, the quality of the paper would be the last thing cut. What it means is less money to pay the salaries of our employees (most of whom are paid far less than they deserve for the time and dedication they put in), it would force us to work with outdated equipment and software (which sacrifices our ability to live up to the portion of our statement of principles to train all interested students to the best of our ability in journalistic pursuits), it would mean less money to donate to charities when we get the chance, and less money for volunteer appreciation (volunteers who get paid nothing and are the backbone of the paper).

In the end an advertising boycott would do nothing to effect the outcome of the vote or of revisiting the issue at another general meeting (something which is already in the works) and would only serve to directly hurt the 85 students who showed up at the AGM and actually fought this motion. The Fulcrum and all those who work long and hard hours to do something we believe in have already been crippled against our will, calling for further punishment of those that fought the hardest against this is unjust to say the least.

1:45 a.m., April 04, 2008  

Post a Comment

<< Home