Volume 96, Issue 100
Tuesday, April 8, 2003

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Gazette vs. the USC

Double latte
Kristina Lundblad
Deputy Editor

At my very first Gazette function, a longtime Gazetter asked me, "What's the difference between a USC party and a Gazette party?"

Since then that question has stuck with me, and I have found myself exploring the entire University Students' Council versus The Gazette comparison a lot – especially now, as my time at Western comes to an end.

Unlike many of our staff members who joined The Gazette when they first came to Western, I didn't start volunteering until my third year. Before I came here, I was heavily involved in USC-type activities – from rez and faculty councils, to being a soph. In my second year, I was on the USC Info Team and in my third year I was a councillor – for those two years especially, I lived and breathed the USC.

And generally, I liked it.

But back to the original question. "A USC party is way more competitive than a Gazette party," was my immediate response.

That's the best way I could describe it – the USC just has a competitive nature to it, I said. As positions are opened up, only a select few actually get the opportunity to take on these volunteer jobs, and since only a very select few actually rise to the "top," the USC just bleeds competitiveness.

I started interning at The Gazette when I was still serving as a USC councillor, so the stark contrast was blatantly obvious.

The Gazette's atmosphere was something I had never experienced with the USC. People were laid back, and nice – just really nice. Not only did they truly want me there, they needed me and begged me to come back.

After my first story, I walked home with this overwhelming sense of accomplishment. And I knew there was no turning back.

I probably should have expected the response I got from my USC friends when I joined the "other side," but I was still really surprised.

For those who are out of the loop with regards to "inside" USC politics, the USC/Gazette relationship has been notoriously strained, and while that has definitely taken a turn for the better over the last couple of years, there is still a very strong "Gazette equals evil" mentality among council.

So, when I accepted a job as a news editor, I got a lot of flack. Even from the USCers who I thought knew me so well, I was seen as a traitor, and was only congratulated on my new position by a select few.

From The Gazette side, I was welcomed with open arms – end of story. I was now a Gazetter.

My biggest complaint with the USC was that the political mindset never rested. Even at so-called social functions, you could always hear someone bragging about how many times he or she had been a commissioner, or why someone voted in favour of the latest posted motion.

At that first Gazette party, I couldn't believe that people were just sitting around talking about stuff – not newspapers – but real stuff, like movies, music and which imported beer is really the best. I didn't once hear Gazetters comparing the number of front page stories they had written – and to this day I never have.

I can't put my finger on why these two, student-run groups are so completely different in their overall mentalities.

Maybe the difference can be found in the results of the many hours each group puts into its commitments. Whereas at The Gazette we produce a daily tangible product – our newspaper – most USCers can't see firsthand what exactly they accomplished while sitting in Council Chambers for five hours the night before.

Maybe that in itself can explain the competitive USC mentality. Since it's difficult to see tangible results, there is this constant strive for something more, something people will actually notice.

Ultimately, it was that high level of competitiveness and serious tone that led me away from the USC.

Yes, The Gazette is a professional newspaper, and the amount of work we put in is nothing to take lightly, but we never forget that in the end, we are still just students.

USCers do make a difference on campus, visible or not. But in the end, they are also just students, doing this as an extra-curricular activity – they are not real politicians. This "political career" they have going on right now will not make or break them.

I came to The Gazette sick of 24/7 politico talk. Here I found a genuine mutual respect for each other and each other's work. I didn't find any smiley politicians conveniently becoming my friend right around February, but instead naturally made friends with students who shared with me this tremendous passion for what we do everyday.

I guess you could call my time at The Gazette a breath of fresh air. And you probably don't need to ask which party I'll be attending come reunion time.

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