Volume 95, Issue 30

Thursday, October 25, 2001
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Editorial Board 2001-2002

Tories slap students in the face

Editorial Cartoon

Tories slap students in the face

Politicians love the limelight, except when they're being roasted by it through the magnifying glass of scandal – or when they feel like ignoring a segment of the population.

Mike Harris' band of merry Tories are in town Friday through Sunday for a policy convention. Journalists generally flock to such events, hoping to provide their readers and viewers a look at the latest actions of their democratically elected officials.

In a disheartening split from tradition, all student media have been denied press accreditation – including Western's very own Gazette – because, as Mike Harris' press secretary put it, such media outlets are "just student organizations."

One can only imagine what the Tories were thinking when they chose London as the setting for their policy convention and then decided to keep the community's student media from covering the event.

By doing so, they have alienated not only the media, but the students who fund those media outlets and the people who rely on such sources for their information.

Often the only information students can easily get their hands on free of charge, student media is the eyes and ears of most young people on campuses across Ontario.

While the party attempts to rebuild its popularity, minus its infamous leader, the last thing to do is alienate potential supporters. Or so one would assume.

But that's not the only slap in the face – the PC party dispensed an extra dose of disrespect when it labeled student media a potential security hazard.

True, some students may seek to disturb, disrupt or even disband the convention, but these are protesters who have firmly entrenched themselves in an openly antagonistic and sometimes even violently opposed posture.

As journalists, the media are simply there to observe, not hurl molotov cocktails.

But wait, here's the most insulting part – the Tories aren't shutting out all students from the convention. They've allowed a few Western students in – the members of the Western PC club.

The club made a special proposal to the University Students' Council to levy them the appropriate funds in order to attend this weekend's political swine-fest.

And the USC delivered, giving them $750 to make their sully dreams of basking in the bile-infused political rhetoric a reality.

How ironic. Students are putting money into the Tory piggy bank, but still aren't allowed to see or read about what they're paying for.

In cutting off the eyes and ears of students, the Tories risk leaving young people blind, deaf and resentful.

But guess what Mike, we're not "just students" – we can all vote and we won't forget this latest slap in the face when the next election arrives.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001