Volume 94, Issue 81

Thursday, February 15, 2001


Lawless is flawless - Braun is gone

Candidates give Lawless advice

Gateway denied - Autonomy not on ballot

Heating assistance fund depleting

Your new USC president at a glance


Divisional Results

His Royal Mintiness

Gateway denied - Autonomy not on ballot

By Chris Lackner
Gazette Staff

The University of Alberta's student newspaper, The Gateway, has been meditating on a big question: To be autonomous or not to be autonomous.

Dan Lazin, editor-in-chief of The Gateway, said autonomy from the student union is necessary to separate the student media from student politics at U of A. "We're trying to separate from the student union to avoid future conflict," he said.

Under the current structure, funding for The Gateway is collected through student fees by the Student Union. Under an autonomous arrangement, The Gateway would still receive the student fee contribution, but would exist as a separate legal and corporate entity.

On Tuesday, the student council voted down a motion to put The Gateway autonomy issue to a referendum on the ballot for the upcoming student union presidential elections, to be held Mar. 7 and 8, Lazin said.

Lisa Church, president of the U of ASU, said The Gateway submitted a petition with 2,500 signatures which would have forced an autonomy referendum, but upon inspection, the petition was deemed not to have enough valid signatures.

She said the SU executive decided to develop their own autonomy question and put a motion before the council to have it included on the presidential ballot.

"Council was concerned about pointing us in a direction without an action plan," she said.

Church added council was concerned that, according to SU referendum guidelines, the "no" and "yes" campaigns did not have enough time to promote their positions to students. She said questions were raised about the effect autonomy would have on the SU-Gateway relationship.

Lazin said a motion to move The Gateway referendum to the end of March was also voted down by council.

He said The Gateway's editorial freedom has been compromised several times in the past, especially in reference to editorials concerning the SU. "It was a clear violation of freedom of the press," he said.

Lazin said the initial referendum petition would have made The Gateway a separate corporate entity while retaining its current operational facilities.

Church said the next time The Gateway would be able to hold a referendum would probably be during next year's UASU general election.

She said she hoped the student union and The Gateway could work out some of the details involved in a potential transition to autonomy. "There are changes that can be made."

Lazin said The Gateway would push to get the 70 or so signatures it needs to make another bid at a referendum before the end of the year.

"I'm not surprised they don't see an ability for it to happen this year," he said. "I think they're just delaying now."

Tim Poon, a student councillor, said he voted down the referendum because he was disappointed with how the SU's executive handled the autonomy situation. "Once the petition failed, they turned around and gave The Gateway referendum on the SU's terms. That is not a fair negotiating tactic."

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