University of Waterloo student newspaper Imprint has been ordered to vacate their office in the Student Life Centre by The Waterloo Federation of Students, known playfully around campus as the ‘Feds.’
Imprint editor-in-chief Aliya Kanani says they’re being ousted due to critical coverage of Feds like this report on closed-door Feds’ meetings, this exposé on unnecessary fees, and this investigation into increased spending on unknown assets.
On April 30 Feds sent Imprint a letter stating that their yearly lease would not be auto-renewed like it had in the past, but that Imprint would instead need to reapply or move somewhere else entirely.
According to editor Kanani, Imprint, which has been situated at the SLC for 37 years, relies heavily on its current campus location to draw in volunteers and allow student journalists to feel safe and comfortable when working on stories that can often keep them at the office late into the night. If moved to the basement — the main option which Imprint says they’ve been given — Kanani says that not only will they attract less students, but that their operations will have to be significantly reduced due to the space being only half the size of their current room in the SLC, all while paying the same or increased rent prices.
Kananai adds that the Feds’ have been reluctant to negotiate a fair deal with Imprint.
“What hasn’t been made clear to us is why [Imprint’s lease] can’t just be made current and why we can’t just negotiate the same space under better terms,” she said. “We’re really not being give much of an option.”
Since raising a stink about the matter, Imprint has received support from both Waterloo students and members of the online community. CJFE has also stepped in to express their disagreement with the Feds’ choice to remove the publication.
When contacted about Imprint’s accusations, Feds’ VP of Operations and Finance Carly McCready said that all decisions made by the Feds were in the interest of the students of Waterloo.
“Our goal is to create more student space,” she said, pointing toward an audit conducted on the SLC and the usage of its rooms that McCready says indicated a disinterest in Imprint when compared to other services. “Student space is constantly an issue. Now we have management control, so as student needs change and we have their feedback, we’re just sort of adjusting to give more of the space back to students.”
McCready was unable to provide exact statistics leading to the decision to end Imprint’s lease, but says that students indicated a distaste for the paper and that people could see for themselves by looking at the data.
In examination of the data, however, the correlation is not as clear, with one statistic showing that while 29 per cent of respondents used the Feds’ office “to some degree,” Imprint was used just five points less at 24 per cent.
When asked where the Imprint will go if turfed, McCready says that Feds has offered the paper what it says it requires: a “visible, accessible space” in the SLC. The exact details, she said, could not be disclosed until a lease is finalized:
“It’s not personal. I don’t have any personal ill will toward the Imprint,” she said. “I can tell you in good faith that we make our decisions in good faith. That’s not how we operate.”
Currently, Kanani says that Imprint is lobbying the school of Waterloo to override the situation, something that may prove difficult due to the Federation taking over ownership of the Student Life Centre in 2013.
When asked if a student backlash to the Feds’ decision could lead to a reversal of the eviction, McCready said that she could not comment, once again citing matters of confidentiality.
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