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Editorial: Peace out homies, you’ve been good to me

By Negin Khodayari

A bright beam of sunlight breaks through the stuffy air in my office. Dust particles dance in the glow and a subtle warmth blankets my shoulders as I sit quietly at my desk in front of the window. “Spring is finally here,” I think to myself, still bewildered by the rapid passing of the last eight months. 

The silence in the room feels almost euphoric to me now. We made it—I made it. A silence that was otherwise my only guest as I sat nervously in this seat waiting for an email or in the lonely nights when I finally had a moment to eat after a chaotic day. 

Echoes of laughter, banter and screaming over each other still linger in my ears but the chaos has subsided and it’s time for us to take a bow. 

These four walls sheltered us from the long winter, but even panels of bricks and wood couldn’t keep all the cold out.

Here at The Eyeopener, we faced our challenges. As we announced our move to a bi-weekly print schedule last year, excited to start making our digital footprint more memorable, Meta’s reaction to Bill C-18 made it almost impossible to initiate our plans. Just days before our first production of Volume 57 in August, we encountered our first storm—the loss of our Instagram account.

We kept our heads and our hopes high as we moved forward into an unexpected semester—one filled with global unrest and uncertainty.

Last fall, the world went up in flames yet again. We witnessed governments play roulette with bombs and bullets over innocent civilians’ beds and the ripples reached as far as our campus. 

We saw Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) students take action in their communities, seeking support and solidarity among their peers and institutions through a number of rallies, fundraisers and vigils.  

On Oct. 20, 2023, TMU students took to campus to rally in support of Palestine in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 attack in the region—a climax of over 70 years worth of oppression at the hands of the State of Israel, according to Amnesty International

University is a time for young minds to take shape and for students to explore their beliefs and identities. As such, campuses become a playground for expression. This year we witnessed exactly that. 

But, these expressions haven’t been revealed without consequence. Just weeks following the initial rallies in support of Palestine on campus, Diamond and Diamond law firm initiated a class action lawsuit against TMU and the Toronto Metropolitan Students’ Union for allegedly fostering an antisemitic environment on campus. 

I was left to grapple with what I should and shouldn’t do, ultimately having to learn through trial and error

The world is ever changing and it’s the responsibility of media outlets to change with it. The Eye has been no exception. This year we entered unfamiliar waters, balancing journalistic standards and personal ethics. 

As an institution representing youth who are just coming of age, we see first-hand the trials and tribulations students face both within the university and among their own communities. While this closeness often works in our favour, allowing us to represent our sources as authentically as possible, it can make it difficult to balance prioritizing facts without harming anyone. 

Being a young journalist encountering sensitive situations for the first time, I found there are few resources to turn to when making difficult decisions as a publication. Larger media institutions, who would otherwise act as guides and benchmarks for The Eye, don’t always reflect the same values we want to uphold as an organization. I was left to grapple with what I should and shouldn’t do, ultimately having to learn through trial and error how to achieve my ultimate goal: to cause more good than harm.  

Last fall unveiled many lingering questions about the journalism industry that still need to be addressed. 

As we were slowly finding our footing with our coverage, we became the subject of a different debate online. 

During the campaigning period for the TMSU byelections in November 2023, some TMU community members took to social media to express their concerns about some candidates. Others broadcasted their frustration with The Eye, falsely claiming that we have been partial in our reporting. 

We didn’t and still don’t take these claims lightly. Verifying information and presenting it ethically is our top priority, regardless of the conversation. 

Ethical journalism refers to coverage that is impartial, verified, fair and true—without fear or favour. Ethical journalism cannot be rushed or forced—this became even more evident to us last fall.  

I never would’ve thought my journey at the university would end here

As the winter semester rolled around just a few short months later, students at TMU had yet another cause for concern. This time after the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship announced a 35 per cent cut to the number of international students studying in Ontario. 

The university currently holds approximately 4,000 international students hailing from 140 countries according to TMU’s International Student Support website. 

Despite this uncertainty, the school’s international students have still persevered, taking advantage of their diverse campus and creating spaces for others who share their circumstances to come together. And I’m proud to have been able to showcase their efforts.

At the heart of all these instances this year has been student ambition. Ambitions to make change, to take on big projects and to accomplish something bigger than themselves. 

Being the editor-in-chief of a campus newspaper has given me a front-row seat to all their efforts. I’ve had opportunities to sit down and talk to students face-to-face, with their smiles spreading from ear to ear as they told me about their accomplishments. 

I was able to witness our sources rush to our news stands to pick up a copy of the paper they were mentioned in, their eyes lighting up the second they found their name on a page. Each interaction reminding me of the reason I was so eager to join this industry: getting to tell people’s stories. 

Looking back, though it’s sometimes hard to see through the chaos and the frustration, I see a group of people behind it all just learning how to find their way and seeking to make a mark on their community.

We made it—I made it. And I never would’ve thought my journey at the university would end here. 

Six years, two degrees and one hell of an experience to add to my resume later, I walk away from campus knowing I gave this place my all. 

As the end of my journey at TMU slowly approaches, the experiences I’ve had play in my head like a kaleidoscope of memories, most of which I can’t quite depict, but one stands out. 

In my first year of undergrad, my journalism instructor told us to write one word that described our time in the program on a sheet of paper. I wrote “comfort zone,” and while they were two words, they encompassed how much we were forced to expand our comfort zones—boy did I not know what was in store for me. 

Now, what feels like eternities later, I’m sitting here and reflecting on the journey that is behind me. I ask myself the same question. “What’s one word you would use to describe your experience as editor-in-chief?” 

“Comfort zone.” Clearly I still haven’t learned all the rules. 

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