Thank goodness this isn’t happening at Ryerson.
Last week, Alex Bilyk, director of media relations for York University, e-mailed many of the 13 student publications at York, ordering them to cease all reporting on the two rapes that occurred on-campus in September.
The Vandoo, a smaller monthly publication with a circulation of about 2,000, was further ordered by the school to remove their most recent issue, which included coverage of the rapes. The paper complied, and as of press time Tuesday Vandoo racks at York remain empty.
“There is a publication ban in effect related to the serious events that occurred on our campus in September. This means that media cannot publish any material information regarding those events even if that information had been previously published,” Bilyck said in the e-mail ordering the ban.
“Freedom of the press is important to all of us,” said Andrew Menchynski, news editor for MacMedia, another newspaper at York.
“The administration seems very misinformed and should go through an extensive process to check the ban, instead of pulling an issue for a monthly publication. They’re not doing their job.”
He said there was a great deal of confusion after the campus papers received the e-mail. And as reported last week by the Excalibur, the largest weekly paper at York (and the only publication actively fighting the ban), there may not even be a ban.
A representative at the courthouse where the two suspects had their bail hearings several weeks ago told the Excalibur there were no court records indicating a publication ban.
“If the ban is actually enforced, and it goes to admin pulling funding and such it would be a slippery slope. We’d be concerned,” Menchynski said.
A slippery slope indeed.
We in the media have been entrusted with a sacred responsibility. As the watchdogs of democracy, it’s our job to keep the powers that be in check. In exchange for this trust, we are expected to report the truth, just as much as our elected representatives are expected to tell it.
We are not the Toronto Star, but that doesn’t make our job as the student media any less important. We all pay tuition (it’s like your parents pay taxes) and we even vote for our representatives. That’s right, those crazy kids at the Ryerson Students’ Union represent us — you voted for them.
It’s not the responsibility of the York administration, the Ryerson administration, or any administration at all to tell us how we choose to inform the public.
So this may not be happening at Ryerson right now. We are still free to ask the hard questions.
But a threat to any part of the student media is a threat to all of us, because we’re all in this together.
Thank goodness this isn’t happening at Ryerson, because we’re still free to say something about it.