I like being published as much as the next person. Most people enjoy seeing their words in ink. Perhaps the only thing better than having your own words published is having someone else quote you or report news about your mundane life. And yet, these are the exact privileges that graduate students at SFU are now in the position to give up.
The relatively new Graduate Student Society is holding a referendum with their upcoming elections that asks their constituents if they would like to remove their per-semester funding for The Peak, and thereby lose, not only their voice at the campus level, but also any chance to promote their views to their community.
There are several reasons that some graduate students feel they should no longer support The Peak. The first is that it currently does not represent their views. Very rarely in the past year has the GSS been mentioned in the news, although this may have more to do with the lack of controversy or scandal surrounding the organization. Also, little press has been given to all the various forms of research that is being done on campus. Few graduate students publish comics or editorials, and even fewer write specifically on topics relating to graduates.
Naturally, much of the blame for this graduate neglect rests on the shoulders of graduate students themselves. It is not difficult to get an article published in The Peak. Much like those who find it to be too “right-wing” or poorly written, the best way to change the paper is to fire up your computer and send in an article. The big challenge that is facing every graduate student’s involvement in The Peak is very simple: time.
Almost every graduate student is strapped for time. Between work ing their thesis, TA-ships, courses, and other work they are committed to, finding the time to write an editorial, let alone research and write a full article, is almost inconceivable. In undergrad, it is possible to extend one’s degree from one to an infinite number of years, so as to spend a bit more time writing for a student newspaper; whereas in graduate school the pressure is on to finish one’s degree and get on with your life.
With so little time on their hands, it is somewhat ironic that some have suggested that graduate students could instead publish their own newsletter in place of funding The Peak. It makes little sense that if students are unable to commit the time to write for The Peak that they would instead write for a newsletter with a much smaller audience. Every paper needs a minimal readership to stay interesting and viable; The Peak has those numbers, and I highly doubt that graduate students would be able to achieve anything similar.
Many graduate students, regardless of the upcoming referendum, will continue to read The Peak week after week. Rather than essentially stealing the paper, the honourable thing for graduate students to do is to vote to continue supporting the independent voice on campus, so that we can continue to have our issues discussed and represented.
The Peak may not be the greatest newspaper ever written, but it remains a strong link between all the constituents of the greater Simon Fraser community. We should vote to keep it that way.