By Kate Douglas
I was struggling to think of an editorial focus this week so I “Googled” student editorials and found this awesome website entitled “Free Student Editorials”. I was tempted, but I think they wanted me to pay, and Activate is kind of low in the funds department at the moment (courtesy of the SRC).
However, it was our Dean of Students who provided me with this edition’s editorial. I received an e-mail from De Klerk updating us on what her division has been up to recently (I think she secretly likes students). What caught my eye was the division’s efforts to formulate a “policy and strategic plan” concerning disability issues on campus. And this got me thinking about Activate’s failure to address, or even acknowledge, some of these issues.
Don’t get me wrong, we haven’t excluded the issue on purpose. This is simply a result of trying to represent a very diverse and active student body – and failing. As a student publication we should represent every single student on campus. It’s a daunting task – some say it is even impossible – but one that the Activate team is trying hard to improve.
Last Friday, I was taking photographs at a His People event where members marched to the cathedral, under the glow of street lamps, to a band playing songs of worship. There was dancing, refreshments and the atmosphere was quite magnificent. I was, however, aware that my attendance was worrying members and I knew exactly why: I was a reporter from Activate. Three years ago Activate published an article that featured His People in a negative light. It dealt with student opinions of the society – something that should be looked at – but did not give space for the society to respond adequately. The article was insensitive and weighted unfairly and the result was that we lost the trust of a group of students we are meant to represent. The suspicion I received from some of those members that night – although they were still friendly and welcoming – really woke me up. We’re supposed to be there for all students. Our news should be balanced and objective and if our columns, features, cartoons and stories make use of subjectivity, this should add to the overall objectivity of the paper. Students should not be unrepresented for three years in their paper.
I’d like to apologise to His People for giving the impression that Activate is not your paper, which is there for you and your student members. Obviously – as a student paper – pissing people off is what we do best, but we handled things poorly. We want to improve. Sometimes we need a poke when we are neglecting crucial issues, and that often requires your help. Even if it is in the form of a nasty email saying “WTF Activate!”
Activate wishes you all a happy swot week (time to catch up on Californication?) and the best of luck with exams. May all your spots come up and may you not write next to a sniffer. Don’t forget to dress warmly if you are in Mullins or the Great Hall. It can get freaking freezing. Until next time, go forth and kick exam butt.