In Defence of Student Journalism
Aaron Panciera EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
When I came to the University of St. Michael’s College (USMC) in the fall of 2016, I was unsure as to why I was here. I knew that a university education was essential to the types of vocations I would be interested in, I just wasn’t exactly sure what I was interested in. In my first year, I contributed sporadically to The Varsity, still skeptical that this was something I could make a living off of. That changed when I came to The Mike.
I didn’t just find my passion at The Mike, I found my community. I found a diverse array of students, all of whom came with their own interests and experiences, who did not just share my passion for journalism, but my desire to create a medium of expression that will effectively hold a historically erratic administration accountable.
There are many reasons I find the Ontario government’s tuition and student fee frameworks to be problematic. However, it is the non-mandatory status of “non-essential” student fees that is the greatest threat to the existence of our organization. These “non-essential” student fees are what keep essential student entities alive. Our annual compulsory fee of $2.60 for each USMC student is a small price to pay, but is essential to our day-to-day operations.
The past year and a half at The Mike has been defined by growth. While the publication itself has existed since 1947, it was not operating in a sufficient capacity. In the fall of 2017, The Mike revived a news section that had been dead for over a decade. Since then, we have covered under-the-radar topics such as the “reimagined” University of St. Michael’s College Student Union, the University of Toronto’s (lack of) mental health services, and unique initiatives and events on campus and in the city.
Even a marginal loss in levy funds, our only source of revenue, would result in fundamental changes to the newspaper. This may result in the need to run advertisements — which limits space for student expression — or even a cutback to the amount of issues we publish each academic year. It would impede upon the already momentous growth we’ve made over the past year and a half.
This is problematic for a number of reasons. There needs to be a student body that holds our administration accountable for decisions that impact our students. Adequate administrative transparency is only possible with the existence of student journalism. Furthermore, student journalism, much like a university education itself, is vital to our intellectual ecosystem. Professional journalists begin as student journalists. Student journalism allows one to develop their craft, learn leadership skills, and gain experience working in a collaborative environment. At a time when journalism is under attack in North America, the future of student journalism is essential.
On a personal note, it is my wish that The Mike continues this growth so that others can have the same experience as I’ve had. Student journalism has not only given me the opportunity to improve my writing and editing skills, but has given me an activity in which I find tremendous joy. My university experience would not be the same without The Mike. If other students are not afforded this opportunity, then we have been failed.