On Saturday August 31, 2013, The Varsity requested the return of copies of the 2013 Student Handbook and the Monday, August 12 issue of The Varsity newspaper from the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU).
On Tuesday, August 20, copies of the two publications were delivered to the union. The union and The Varsity had previously arranged for these issues to be included in UTSU-assembled frosh kits and distributed to several colleges and faculties, for a discounted fee.
The union raised concerns about some articles in these publications in an email to The Varsity on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 27. Members of The Varsity masthead met with union staff and executives on Thursday, August 29, to discuss these concerns. The possibility of the publications not being distributed by the UTSU was not discussed.
The union informed The Varsity by email on the afternoon of Friday, August 30, that it did not intend to include the two publications in frosh kits because of their concerns over the accuracy and objectivity of some news articles in the August 12 issue, particularly the cover article. On Saturday morning, The Varsity received a formal request for the retraction of certain parts of several articles from the UTSU.
The articles in question were subjected to a rigorous fact-checking process during production of the issue. The retraction requests are being carefully investigated in accordance with standard procedure and, if any retractions are found necessary, they will be issued in due course.
Negotiations continued through Friday night and Saturday morning. When it did not appear that any resolution acceptable to both parties could be arrived at with sufficient time to implement a solution, The Varsity chose to request the return of its materials. The union agreed to return the issues and co-operated fully in returning the materials. The union further agreed to return the cheque issued to it.
On Saturday afternoon, The Varsity distributed the issues and handbooks originally intended for UTSU-assembled frosh kits directly to several divisions. Ultimately, the vast majority of the issues and handbooks were distributed.
The Varsity wishes to apologize to those first-year students who would have received copies of the issue and handbook in their frosh kits but for this sequence of events. The Varsity also wishes to thank the orientation programs that were able to accommodate last-minute delivery.
The Varsity’s considers the paper’s editorial autonomy to be of paramount importance in fulfilling our role as U of T’s student newspaper. We are committed to maintaining the integrity of our journalistic duties and editorial freedom.