Founded in 2017, The Boundary is Victoria University’s humour newspaper. The Varsity sat down with the paper’s Editor-in-Chief Ted Fraser and Head Content Editor Kyle Brickman, while Finance Executive Daniel Aykler lounged nearby.
The Varsity: How did The Boundary come into existence?
The Boundary: The Boundary is our head staff writer Jack Mageau’s brainchild. He came up with the concept, and then after mistakenly naming it The Farcity — which we thought was a hilarious name — we changed it to The Boundary. It’s a play on ‘boundless.’ We toe the line; we are that ‘boundary.’
Any school that earns the nickname U of Tears needs a humour outlet, because otherwise it’s just depression and Con Hall and cold winters, and there’s nothing really to express yourself [with] in terms of opinions or just human emotion. I think we share a very similar sense of humour with the meme page and our main goal is to almost formalize that type of humour through The Boundary.
[Mageau’s] concept was just an outlet [to] see if we can reach people. The spirit of the University of Toronto population is almost self-deprecating — and I don’t want to say self-hating, but definitely aware of the reality that [the] University of Toronto is not a fun school in the traditional sense. I think it’s really deeply ingrained into the psyche of University of Toronto students that we don’t have fun, and we’ve worked really hard, and we get screwed on tests, and that no one — no one — likes their life.
It’s great because U of T is sort of the opposite of every other university, right? Because frats are lame, no one goes to football games, studying is king, and it just provides constant fuel for headlines. Like, they don’t have to drop into your lap per se, but they’re going to drop more than they would [at] a prototypical college-based school.
TV: Why should people read The Boundary?
TB: Our mission is to amuse rather than to inform, and we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We acknowledge our own irrelevance and we thrive off of self-deprecation.
TV: Your content is predominantly published online. How often do you release content? Are you going to release a paper copy?
TB: We aim to release four or five articles a week, but through our brainstorming process, we always have one or two articles that we know are really good that we want to release at a certain time.
Perhaps [we’ll have] a semesterly bound paper publication that we will try our best to put on some newsstands or throw in some study rooms at Robarts.
TV: Where are your current contributors and contributions coming from?
TB: The majority of the contributions are coming out of a very core group of people, three of us in this room, then three or four more. And that’s just a product of us being in our infancy. We had a soft launch, as we were calling it. But really, we were just kind of fooling around with the idea to see if it would even work or [if people] would be interested in [it], including ourselves. I think we were figuring out if the contributors would be interested and I guess it turns out that other people are too, to a certain extent. We’re always looking for new contributors.
TV: Why should people want to write for you?
TB: The articles that are being written are 200 words. It’s half a page really and it’s funnier that way. We don’t want long editorials. Our goal is to provide very short content because, again, students are busy. Like, even as the writers, we’re busy.
TV: You’re both in your third year. What’s the plan? Are you going to pass on the torch to keep The Boundary around after you graduate?
TB: We’d love to pick up some contributors from second or first year and have them continue this because I think, yeah, it’d be a nightmare if this was the end. We’re the architects of our own fate. We can definitely figure this out and see if we can get some more people. We’re trying to increase our Facebook presence, which is crucial, and I think there’s also a thirst for this humour across Ontario. The Beaverton and The Onion hit up certain demographics, but I think we cater to a neglected demographic, which is why we’ve kind of sprung up.
TV: Can you explain a little about the neglected demographic?
TB: The Beaverton caters to young professionals and sort of cerebral university students who get the jokes. The Onion is more like the everyman’s satire and, I think, not specific to university in general. We’re specific, I think, so there’s more people like our current consumers out there. Also, a good thing to note is that we’re not nearly on the level of The Onion, so we couldn’t just do Onion content, satirizing everyday life, because we will not get the traction with our current audiences.
TV: Do you have any sources of funding, for Facebook ads, for example?
TB: Initially our bravest member, Kevin Yin, submitted his credit card, but [he] will be compensated. We just kind of went out on a limb and sort of fundraised bankroll ourselves, and it was minimal costs. We’ve now got funding from the VUSAC [Victoria University Students Administrative Council] and our budget is going to be ratified, hopefully soon.
TV: Are you considered a club or a publication?
TB: Technically, I think we’re considered a club. I’m actually in the process of doing the CCR [Co-Curricular Record] phase right now, but I think we would offer it in the same space as maybe the UC Review or something like that — a local, regional, or… a college-based club — although the content is not really catered to college at all. I’d say we kind of referenced it in passing.
TV: How can people contribute?
TB: We have an email, it’s firstname.lastname@example.org. Some people have submitted pitches, but I’d rather honestly meet a potential candidate in person. It’s not necessarily [a screening], but more so just [to] talk to them and see what they are interested in — does this person share a sense of humour with us? Do they have an understanding of what we’re going for?
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.