Relevant is relative

By Holly Tousignant, Supplements Editor

On Nov. 3, 2009, the Journal published an article I wrote called “Destigmatizing mental health issues.” This story was not about a specific student event or activity that had happened on campus; rather, it was about the stigma surrounding mental illness in general and the effect that stigma has on Queen’s students. In the comment section, several readers thanked the Journal and the very candid interviewee featured for raising such an important, relevant issue. I also received personal messages on Facebook saying the same thing.

I’m not exactly sure what the motion passed by Assembly means by “student activities and events,” but I would guess that this article wouldn’t make the cut.

On Mar. 26, 2010 another piece was published called “Talking hybrid learning models,” also written by myself. The story, written as part of news’ special project for that year, was about the models of virtualization that were proposed by the Principal’s Taskforce on Virtualization. I don’t think the content of this story would fall under the “student events and activities” category either, but I would dare anyone to argue that proposed changes to the way classes are taught isn’t of the utmost relevance to students. In writing that story, I had the opportunity to educate students on an issue most of them likely knew very little about.

These are just two of the many pieces I have written in my nearly three years working at the Journal, first as a contributor, then as Assistant News Editor and now as Supplements Editor. I have also written stories about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, racist assaults on West Campus, the stress of first year, the adaptive technology centre and the closure of Kingston’s prison farms. Are any of these stories directly about “student activities and events?” Perhaps not, but I do think they’re some of the most thought-provoking, relevant pieces I’ve had the privilege of working on. Not just to me, but to the student body as a whole.

I am proud of the work I have done at the Journal, not simply because I think it has served me well, but because I believe the stories I have been a part of have been of genuine interest to students. My stories have stirred passion, anger and debate in students. You don’t debate about things that don’t deeply interest you.

I think if you were to ask the members of Assembly who voted for the motion to pass, they would not disagree that what I have said is true. But they might ask what the harm is in simply taking a look at the statistics.

As others have said before me, there is no harm in this. The harm comes from the AMS, the corporation that funds the Journal, being the ones to facilitate this audit. As others have also mentioned, there is still no real harm so long as the AMS doesn’t plan on implementing changes based on their findings. But if this is not the intention, why waste the time and resources to do the audit at all?

Here’s what I honestly think will come out of this if the motion isn’t overturned: the data will create a stir for a day or so, then it will get stuffed in a drawer somewhere and forgotten about, in which case it will have been a mere waste of time. Of course, there’s also the chance that the results will get blown out of proportion, influencing how future editors do their job. Many “#teamjournal” critics I’ve come across don’t understand what would be so bad about the Journal changing their practices based on the results of the audit. I hope they keep those attitudes in mind when the Journal is being pressured to write about faculty bake sales and car washes over mental health issues, academic planning and other important topics.

So please, come out to the AMS AGM and vote to reverse the motion. Not just because it will make my life easier or even because it’s the right thing to do, but because next year when you open up the paper, I can guarantee you’ll want to be reading the stories editors are capable of coming up with free from AMS influence.

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