Activism going to print
By Sara Marett
A national radical student newspaper, enjoying the success of a first issue published in January, plans to plant some roots and grow.
The first issue of The Student Activist included articles on aspects of the current student movement, such as tuition protests and criticism of the corporatization of post-secondary education. The paper was put together by students from across Canada, most belonging to the Canadian Federation of Students, a national student lobby group.
Tom Keefer, a student at the University of Guelph, spearheaded the conception of the paper, which began with a mass email to students across the country, asking for submissions. Over 130 students responded, most wanting to submit an article, he said. Last week, members of the production crew of the paper elected an eight-member editorial board and plan to publish their next issue in May.
"We needed to make it an accountable, solid publication," Keefer said. The first issue was also distributed in the United States and the editorial board would like it to become international, he said. They have already taken steps by translating the articles into Spanish and Italian on their Web site in hopes of attracting some off-continent attention.
"The mandate of the paper is to break down the isolation of the student movement and build links between campuses to make our voices stronger," Keefer said.
The paper is published in Guelph and received funding from advertising and donations from various student unions, he explained. Although the paper is not organized by the CFS, the lobby group did donate $1,000.
"The paper is defined by those who put it together, not CFS," said Brad Lavinge, national chair for the lobby group. He explained although most of the contributors are those attending CFS member schools, the paper is open for submissions from any student.
The Society of Graduate Students at Western is a member of CFS and did contribute to the first issue of the paper with an article on how Western students approach lobbying their administration. "We were happy we could contribute to the paper, to show an alternative way of negotiating with administration that is less radical than at other schools," said Helen Roos, past-president of SOGS.
The article also outlines Western's corporate ties and criticizes President Paul Davenport's relationship with Premier Mike Harris, referring to it as a "love affair."
But Hoops Harrison, national director for the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, CFS' rival lobby group and the organization to which Western's University Students' Council belongs, said the paper is less a newspaper and more a newsletter with a political agenda.
"This is not something I would spend my time with."