Letter from the Editor: An update to how we label opinion articles in our comment section

A letter from the comment editor

Letter from the Editor: An update to how we label opinion articles in our comment section

It has become apparent that there is much confusion when distinguishing the opinion of individual contributors versus that of The Varsity as a whole, particularly on social media.

Last week, ahead of the 2019 federal election, we published an opinion piece by a contributor that endorsed the Conservative Party. As usual in the Comment section, we included “Opinion” in the text of the social media posts on both Facebook and Twitter.

However, the label, as usual in the Comment section, was not included in the actual heading of the article. This led to many readers believing that the article reflected the opinion of the newspaper itself. In fact, we published our own endorsement through the editorial board a few hours later, which was the opposite of that of the contributor.

In our print issue, all opinion pieces are published under the Comment page, and editorials are published under the Editorial page. On social media, however, we recognize that we can do more such that readers can easily distinguish between the two.

Hence, beginning with our eighth issue, the headlines in all Comment pieces published online will be labelled appropriately.

First, all pieces written by contributors that represent their individual views will be published with the “Opinion” label.

Second, all pieces written by contributors on behalf of a particular organization or group will continue to be published with the “Op-ed” label. Typical op-ed pieces are written by members of student unions, executives of student groups, and other student leaders writing on behalf of their constituents.

Third, all pieces written by The Varsity Editorial Board that reflect the opinion of our masthead will be published with the “Editorial” label. It is noteworthy that “Opinion,” “Op-ed,” and “Editorial” pieces all operate independently from one another.

Fourth, all pieces written by readers in response to any aspect of our coverage will be labelled as a “Letter to the Editor” in fact, as with op-eds, this is how we publish them already.

I would also like to take the opportunity to highlight the divide between the News and Comment sections. Contributors are only permitted to write consistently for one section each year.

The Varsity masthead is prohibited from writing for the Comment section, and the comment editor is the single member of the masthead who cannot write for the News section.

This is to ensure that different sections of our paper remain independent such that News and Comment do not influence each other.

As both the comment editor and the chair of the editorial board, you may contact me about any concerns about our opinion pieces, and also send letters to me at comment@thevarsity.ca.

Angela Feng
Comment Editor
Volume 140

Bridging the gap

Letter from the Editor

Bridging the gap

One common refrain that readers will see when glancing over any article celebrating The Varsity is its age. As of this October, this newspaper will be 140 years old — you are all invited to the party. While we take great pride in continuing the legacy of one of Canada’s longest-running student newspapers, the very age of The Varsity may give students the perception of an unchanging institution, disconnected from the campus.

This year, my team and I hope to bridge this perceived gap between students and the newspaper that we love. This year, we want to engage with you. We want to hear your concerns, your experiences, the big and little things that you care about.

While this goal is something that our masthead is dedicated to, regardless of external factors, the creation of the Student Choice Initiative (SCI) has certainly highlighted just how important it is for us to continue our long-standing goal to earn your trust as a reader.

The SCI allows students to opt out of certain incidental fees, including The Varsity’s levy of $2.87 per semester for undergraduates and $0.87 for graduates. 

While this policy has raised questions about our place and responsibility at U of T, our consistent and responsible reporting on not only the SCI, but on issues that are important to students, has proven just how essential we are to the community. 

As you continue to read our content, be it investigations into U of T’s finances, campus theatre reviews, or recaps of Varsity Blues games, I hope you will consider supporting us by staying opted-in.

Advocacy-editorial divide

As the SCI continues to be a pressing facet of campus life, I will be continuing the policy established by my predecessor, Jack O. Denton, to recuse myself from editing articles on the SCI. 

The justification for this is simple: I must continue to be an outspoken advocate for The Varsity as an essential service while also upholding the paper’s long-standing commitment to responsible and fair reporting. Therefore, a recusal would allow for a separation of my advocacy efforts and the The Varsity’s editorial operations.

The news team’s reporting on the SCI — led by News Editor Andy Takagi and Deputy News Editor Kathryn Mannie — will be edited and published by Managing Editor Ibnul Chowdhury, instead of myself. Moreover, Ibnul, Andy, Kathryn, and all associate news editors will refrain from publicly expressing any opinions on the SCI.

Ibnul will also take over editing and publishing responsibilities for all SCI articles found in our other sections. Therefore, I will not be involved in any of the content we produce about this topic.

I am continuing this policy so as to further assure our readers of our enduring commitment to the values of fair, just, and accurate reporting.

The Varsity will always be here as an expression of the student voice, in all its diverse and multi-faceted forms. However, it’s up to you, the students, to work with us, fund us, and tell us what we can do better.

Josie Kao

Editor-in-Chief

Volume 140

Press on

A letter from Jack O. Denton, Editor-in-Chief 2018–2019

Press on

This January, The Varsity was faced with news of an existential threat. As the provincial government announced that it was going to strip student groups like ours of privileged status as a mandatory student fee, we had little choice but to do what we do best: report the news, boldly.

That day, the work of Varsity reporters and editors embodied the very spirit of what was at risk. Our reporters publicly pushed a provincial cabinet minister for answers. Our editors made news appearances to speak on the effect that the policy would have on the student press in the province. Each journalist played a part as if in a well-oiled machine, thrumming to fulfil our mandate of furthering discourse on issues that matter to students.

This year, The Varsity as an organization has been the largest in recent history. Emboldened by funds from a levy increase, we followed through with our campaign commitments by hiring editors dedicated to covering issues at UTM and UTSC, as well as broadening the scope of our coverage to include our new graduate membership. Even a cursory scan of our pages will reveal the substantial progress we’ve made in covering these communities. Volume 139 was, broadly, characterized by expansion. This year we launched a Business section, renovated our office space to accommodate a podcast studio, which became home to Bazaar and (Un)Spoken, and created The Squirrel, a student life blog. We also rejoined the Canadian University Press, a national cooperative of student newspapers, after a long absence.

As for output, we crossed the one million pageview mark in early February and have clocked  more than 1.4 million pageviews since May 1, 2018 from around 1,100 articles published on thevarsity.ca.

Much has been done, and there’s still much to do, but those stories are for future editors and future letters.

Producing a newspaper is a team sport, and I’ve been fortunate to enjoy the company of a most talented group. By March 31, 484 people contributed to The Varsity, of which 141 are staff. I am grateful to each and every one of them, but particularly thankful to a few. Reut Cohen acted as my rock and foil this year, and she is responsible for all of the good decisions and none of the bad ones. Kaitlyn Simpson led an expansive online team to launch a new platform and improve existing ones, always with a view to the future. Pearl Cao oversaw a stunning brand redesign of our print newspaper with creative force and reset our standards by finishing production earlier than ever on Sundays. The News team, led by Josie Kao and Ilya Bañares, was a point of pride for us, responding to protests, crises, and tragedies stalwartly and with inexorable curiosity — seeing them work reminded me of why I fell in love with journalism. Thanks are also owed to my predecessors. Jacob Lorinc taught me that even though the work we do here is the rough draft of history, it should still be strong and stylish copy. Alex McKeen reminded me that, ultimately, it’s people who are at the heart of this newspaper.

While The Varsity is ending its 139th volume on a high note, it’s impossible to ignore the threats facing this organization. Premier Doug Ford’s Student Choice Initiative will give U of T students the option of whether or not to not pay The Varsity’s fee, which has historically been mandatory. The logic is that incidental fees that fund groups like The Varsity do not provide a universal service to the student body, and as such should be optional. I vehemently disagree. From holding student unions and the university accountable to providing a platform for students’ stories that would otherwise go uncovered, this newspaper has a real, meaningful, and intrinsic value on campus. Moreover, this attempt to corporatize student associations puts traditional media organizations like The Varsity — which have been mostly isolated from the economic pitfalls of print media by our reliable student fee funding — up against a wall.

The student press isn’t just under pressure from this provincial mandate. This year, there have been concerning developments among local student societies with respect to granting media access to union meetings. Despite troubling incidents this year within the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union and the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union, as we progress into Volume 140 of The Varsity, I am hopeful of where our relationship with these two unions stand. Student unions represent thousands of people and control millions of dollars; as such, they should be subject to extreme scrutiny and access to their decision-making meetings should be sine qua non.

Nevertheless, with my successor Josie Kao steering the ship, The Varsity will thrive. Josie brings years of refined news judgment to the role alongside a deep and meaningful passion for making The Varsity open and accessible to readers and staff alike. It’s unclear what exactly the future holds for The Varsity, but I am certain this organization is in the hands of a group of people who will elevate the standards of work here to new heights. The fruits of their labour will bear more than any words of mine ever could.

In the introduction to the first issue of the first volume of The Varsity, published October 7, 1880, our editors made an impassioned case for the importance of a vigorous student press. These were their opening words:

“Whatever element of ambition or audacity lies latent in our programme, it is wholly bound up in the desire that the University of Toronto shall possess the best university paper in America and an unrivalled index of the progress of educational systems.”

And so, in pursuit of the best university newspaper, meaningful journalistic progress in an age and environment where it is under threat, and, above all, stories that tell the truth, boldly:

Press on.

— Jack O. Denton

Editor-in-Chief, Volume CXXXIX

The Varsity will always be there for the story of student power

A letter from the Comment Editor

<i>The Varsity</i> will always be there for the story of student power

Content warning: discussion of suicide.

The theme for the Comment section of the final issue of The Varsity Volume 139 is — unintentionally — student power.

Current Affairs Columnist Meera Ulysses advocates for a student strike in response to the Ford cuts; Arts and Science Students’ Union President Haseeb Hassaan advises incoming and future student leaders; former Varsity Photo Editor Nathan Chan discusses the controversial university-mandated leave of absence policy (UMLAP); members of Fight for $15 and Fairness UofT discuss labour resistance; and the Editorial Board reviews all of the student union elections this year.

This should not surprise readers. This semester, U of T students have increasingly expressed frustration toward student leadership, the university administration, and the provincial government for their failure to adequately represent students and student needs. It is often in the context of highly contentious and sensitive events that interest in writing for the Comment section peaks. We are honoured to be an outlet where students can articulate their outrage.

When Volume 139 began last summer and the UMLAP was approved, we published several opinion pieces on the topic given its significance to the student community. The very first issue of the volume featured an op-ed reviewing the approved policy. In this final issue of the volume, a number of suicides on campus in the last year has restored focus on the UMLAP, as you will read in Chan’s op-ed.

This circularity — that we are back where we started — might frustrate readers and suggest that nothing has changed. But student resistance persists nonetheless. It always renews itself. It never seems to be down for the count.

That is why The Varsity will always be there to tell the story of student power — and to enable U of T community members to tell it in their own words. Onward to Volume 140’s version of that story.

Ibnul Chowdhury

Comment Editor, Volume CXXXIX

Reflecting on a year of bringing science out of the ivory towers

A letter from the Science Editor

Reflecting on a year of bringing science out of the ivory towers

Over 100 articles, 23 issues, and one incredible team — I could not be more thankful to our readers and contributors for making the Science section a success this volume.

I once regretted pursuing a Professional Writing and Communication minor on top of my Biological Chemistry specialist. But now, more than ever, I’m thankful that I didn’t drop it. The writing skills that I’ve developed have complemented my work as an undergraduate researcher, and if we want to become better researchers, we must not neglect the arts.

What brought me to The Varsity was my love for science writing, but what has kept me here is the undeniable sense of community. My fellow editors and staff at The Varsity have taught me more about journalism than I ever could have learnt at an academic institution.

The impact of science journalism

Thank you to all the contributors, whether you’ve written one or a dozen articles.

Scientific discoveries aren’t conducted by one person, but by teams comprised of postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, undergraduate students, visiting scientists, lab technicians, and more. The media often recognizes the principal investigator — often a professor — when new research is published, but seldom speaks with the lead author, who is often a graduate student, or other researchers on the team. After all, there’s a reason why publications have multiple authors.

With this in mind, I felt The Varsity should leverage its position as a student paper to publish content that is more reflective of U of T’s diverse scientific community.

Javiera Duran has worked on a series of profiles on women in STEM over the volume. Her profiles are intersectional and showcase the people behind the science at U of T. The section has also published a photo series on student researchers at U of T and highlights from the Arts and Science Students’ Union’s Research Conference.

Ashima Kaura, an Associate Science Editor, wrote on retractions in scientific journals in November. The feature-length article delves into the repercussions that scientists and their laboratories face when hit with a retraction, looking into the retraction process as a whole and how it varies from journal to journal.

After it was published, readers, including a U of T professor and a cancer patient, wrote to The Varsity, expressing gratitude and noting the importance of publishing an article on the double-edged nature of scientific retractions.

Since January, Ashima has spent weeks speaking with patients who have been affected by scientific misconduct. Her follow-up investigation comes out this month.

The response to Ashima’s article attests to the important role that journalism plays in our society, even at the student level.

Spencer Ki, an Associate Science Editor, has taken on the unofficial space beat. Spencer has covered talks to outreach activities led by the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics.

In her article on permafrost, Elizabeth Benner explores the societal implications of a thawing permafrost. We often forget that climate change isn’t just a scientific issue, and we can’t file all articles on climate change under the Science section, because it’s a problem that will continue to impact every aspect of our lives.

Science doesn’t live in a bubble

Science isn’t objective, and it doesn’t exist in a bubble — it has a widespread cultural and societal impact.

What most of us consider science is Western science. However, while Indigenous people have contributed to science for generations, their findings often only make up a couple of pages of science textbooks, if at all.

As journalists, readers, and citizens, we are responsible for shifting this flawed narrative of scientific research.

Science is not a bunch of old white men in lab coats. It’s comprised of individuals of different races, genders, and abilities. Some of these researchers have learning or physical disabilities, or chronic illnesses.

And although it often seems like it, science isn’t confined to a lab or a scientific journal. It’s our job as journalists to separate the science from the jargon and make it engaging and accessible for a non-expert audience.

The faster the scientific community learns to embrace the diverse community that it serves, the faster science will progress.

— Srivindhya Kolluru
Science Editor, Volume CXXXIX

Clearing the air: BDS, Chemi Lhamo, and the News-Comment-Editorial divide

Letter from the Comment Editor

Clearing the air: BDS, Chemi Lhamo, and the News-Comment-Editorial divide

The intersection of global conflict politics and the U of T community often occurs in highly contentious contexts. Subsequently, The Varsity’s editorial decisions are often subject to accusations of inaccuracy or bias that we feel are unwarranted and ultimately misserve the general readership.   

Earlier this semester, we published an opinion piece entitled “Who speaks for Palestine?”  that revolved around a contributor’s alarm over the content of a guest speaker’s lecture on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. The contributor advocated for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israeli occupation.

Following publication, Hillel U of T, a Jewish organization on campus, publicly accused the article of containing “misnomers and falsehoods about BDS and the reality on campus.”

We welcome reasonable disagreement and debate on highly divisive issues in the Comment section. In fact, we published two anti-BDS letters in response to the pro-BDS article. But making an unsupported comment about the factual basis of our articles serves to misinform readers about already sensitive issues. It overlooks how different sides can use different evidence to reach different conclusions.

Our coverage of the online harassment campaign against Scarborough Campus Students’ Union President-elect Chemi Lhamo was met with similar accusations of misinformation. When our opinion coverage condemned the campaign, defended Lhamo’s Tibetan activism, and supported her presidency, we were accused of being “one-sided” and “biased” because the pieces were not “objective” and did not reflect the views of international Chinese students.

Accusations were made that the publication constituted a “character assassination” of China and that we supposedly have personal connections to Lhamo for “pushing her agenda.”

It is important to understand that opinion pieces in the Comment section are not news coverage. The News and Comment sections operate independently. Expectations of impartial reporting should only exist for the News section. Comment is a space for contributors to comment on issues from any perspective or side that they choose, so long as their arguments are presented reasonably. Expecting balanced arguments or neutrality from Comment articles is, by definition, contradictory.

That being said, context matters with regard to impartiality in News and diversity of opinion in Comment. The story of Lhamo is about the harassment campaign against her despite the legitimacy of her election, which our news coverage correspondingly focused on, and Comment contributors initially problematized.

The story is not about the general history of the conflict in Tibet. But the choice of some readers to interpret our coverage through this lens meant that they associated the ‘lack’ of a ‘China perspective’ as a deliberate stance on the conflict and thus reinforcing the Western tendency to negatively portray China.

Comment is not obligated to false balance for the sake of appearing neutral. A column on the online harassment against Lhamo does not automatically warrant soliciting comments from international Chinese students or groups on campus — they do not carry the same weight for the story in question. In fact, such a strategy would instead imply that being an international Chinese student means being on the ‘opposite’ side and could wrongly associate them with the harassment campaign.

Nonetheless, we reminded readers that if they disagree with our initial opinion coverage from their perspective as international Chinese students, they are always free to reach out and write an article accordingly. What we publish is ultimately a reflection of the interests of our contributors. Indeed, our UTSC Affairs Columnist wanted to provide an alternative perspective on the Lhamo story, and so that is the focus of his column this week.

Making charges against our editorial process on social media without fully understanding it, however, is not conducive to healthy discussion and debate. Discussion on sensitive issues should not devolve into flame wars. Many unreasonable and misinformed comments on social media from all sides compelled us to intervene and moderate for hateful content.

Publishing opinion pieces defending Lhamo is not an automatic endorsement of any position, and this is where the Comment-Editorial divide comes in. Whereas the Comment section is reserved for U of T community members, only editorials represent the opinion of The Varsity’s leadership. This year, the Editorial Board has not taken a position on the Lhamo story. We are obligated to make that known to readers who conflate individual contributors’ opinions with the paper’s as a whole and subsequently make accusations of bias.

Some readers’ concerns were fair. They observed that our news coverage on the Lhamo story was obscured because it was only a subheading in a news article’s recap of the SCSU elections, rather than a full article on its own. This may have contributed to the perception that opinion preceded news coverage, which is typically avoided so the former is not mistaken for the latter. We welcome readers to write letters to the editor or reach out to our Public Editor to discuss possible shortcomings in our editorial process.

We can always do better. But it is also important that readers abide by a certain level of media literacy. This means making informed and fair criticisms so that difficult discussions remain constructive.

No, The Varsity doesn’t silence conservative (or other unpopular) opinions

A letter from the Comment Editor

No, <i>The Varsity</i> doesn’t silence conservative (or other unpopular) opinions

Recently, two contributors, in separate cases, wanted to write responses to recent Varsity News articles. The catch was that their viewpoints were conservative — or contrary to popular opinion — and they wanted to be granted anonymous bylines. One justified this request based on a fear that publicly expressing their views would cause retribution in terms of employment prospects.

I rejected both requests, because it is protocol at The Varsity to attach an author’s name to their article. This is especially the case for the Comment section, as it is an arena for public discussion, dialogue, and debate in the U of T community. It is essential to contextualize who you are, and where you are coming from, when you provide a perspective. This is why every Comment contributor receives a short biography at the end of their article.

The hope is that productive discourse, in good faith, can lead to better understandings of the opposition’s views, even if the issue or policy in question is a contentious one to start. Anonymity, however, means that the original author cannot be held to account for their words.

If you hold a conservative or unpopular opinion, and you want to share it with the community, you ought to be able to publicly stand by and defend it. This means building a strong and robust case for why you believe what you believe, even if it is unpopular, and why other students should listen to you.

But some students may feel that publicly sharing conservative views leads to backlash, especially given our left-leaning readership and contributor base. They therefore refrain from contributing, which leads to their underrepresentation in The Varsity’s opinion pages. Others accuse The Varsity of an outright biased, ‘social justice’ agenda that caters to its ‘social justice’ contributors and audience.

Given that most of The Varsity’s opinion pieces are left-leaning, where politics is concerned, it is important to take these accusations seriously — especially since some students are pleased by the prospect of opting out of our levy with Doug Ford’s recently announced Student Choice Initiative.

First, it is true that our readership tends to respond unfavourably to conservative articles. But that is not something we can control, be assigned responsibility for, or answer to. What we do control are the publication standards that guide what kind of opinion pieces are published. Simply put, if you have a well-reasoned, substantiated argument on a topic that affects students, and that might nudge students to think differently, we aren’t concerned about ideology. We will publish you.

What we won’t publish is anything that is hateful — for instance, views that sympathize with white supremacy — because that won’t productively engage with readers, to say the least, and it will irredeemably compromise our reputation.

We also control for conspiratorial, speculative, and contrarian viewpoints — that is, opinions that alarm audiences based on conjecture rather than evidence, or that stokes controversy for the sake of controversy. We also don’t like strawmanning. Both sides of the spectrum are subject to this sort of opinion writing, and we try our best to reject these kinds of articles.

When it comes to accusations about our ‘agenda,’ it is important to clarify that editorials written by The Varsity’s editorial board represent the opinion of the newspaper and typically lean left. The board, like the rest of the Comment section, is also strictly separate from and does not influence the News section, which is obligated to factual reporting. Furthermore, independent opinion pieces that oppose the editorial board and our left-leaning readership are regularly commissioned.

For instance, even though the editorial board has consistently opposed Ford’s policies, The Varsity has also published numerous pro-Ford pieces, whether defending Ford’s campus free speech policy, minimum wage freeze, Toronto city council size cut, or Ford’s postsecondary education announcements. Aside from Ford, we have also published letters that defended anti-abortion protests and an article that defended Steve Bannon’s right to speak at the Munk Debate.

When it comes to student politics, contributors have written about the value of conservative students getting involved in their unions or holding them to account from the outside, or how voluntary student unionism might improve political participation. I encourage readers to especially read through the past work of Sam Routley, the UTSG Campus Politics Columnist, to get a sense of what well-written and reasoned conservative pieces might look like.

When it comes to unpopular opinions in general, consider the controversial university-mandated leave of absence policy (UMLAP). While the editorial board was critical of the UMLAP, and numerous other anti-UMLAP pieces were published, we did not hesitate to feature a pro-UMLAP op-ed.

Ultimately, we value opinion pieces that go against the views of the editorial board and most readers because, within reasonable limits, they provide balance and prompt folks to consider and learn from the opposition’s views. Indeed, our Governance Policy obligates us to a diversity of opinion. And if you review our letters to the editor this past year, both online and in print, we’ve also been very open to criticism of our coverage.

If you’re a conservative, or you hold an opinion that might be unpopular among fellow U of T readers, that shouldn’t be the reason that you hold yourself back from writing for us. What is important is the quality of your argument, the relevance of what you have to say to the U of T community, and the prospect of engaging in good faith with the other side.

And remember, The Varsity is student-run and is the product of the hundreds of students who choose to participate in it each year. If you don’t see your views reflected well in the opinion pages, go beyond just criticizing — pitch your ideas and ask to write for us. The Varsity is what you, the students, make of it.

 Ibnul Chowdhury,

Comment Editor

Letter from the Editor

To fight for the future of The Varsity as an advocate, I am recusing myself from editing articles about student fees

Letter from the Editor

On January 17, the provincial government announced that universities and colleges must make the majority of non-tuition fees — which are currently mandatory — optional. With further sweeping cuts to the provincial student aid framework and an across-the-board reduction in tuition, Doug Ford’s government has changed postsecondary education in Ontario in one deft blow.

While the message from the Progressive Conservatives is that these changes are “for the students,” The Varsity’s editorial board, of which I am a member, disagrees.

Varsity Publications Inc. is the non-profit corporation that publishes The Varsity, The Varsity Magazine, and our digital products. Full-time students at the University of Toronto pay our fee and make up our membership.

It is currently unclear exactly which fees students will be able to opt-out of, though we know that “essential” services, to use the government’s word, such as those related to health and safety programs, athletics, and academic support will be protected. Universities will apparently have the final say on which fees are “essential” and “non-essential,” with students being able to opt out of “non-essential” fees. All indications thus far point to campus media being included in the latter category.

Money from student fees comprises the majority of our revenue and we could not survive without it. The financial uncertainty of whether or not we would receive enough student fees in any given semester to keep the presses running would debilitate our operations.

To put it bluntly: an opt-out option for our fee poses an existential threat to this organization.

As the Editor-in-Chief of The Varsity, I am also the Chief Executive Officer of Varsity Publications. In this capacity, it is my fiduciary duty to ensure the continued existence of this newspaper. And, mark my words, I will fight tooth and nail for the future of The Varsity and all of our essential peers in the Ontario student press.

What will this look like?

I must be a public advocate for the inclusion of campus media in the “essential” category of student fees, whether that be just at the University of Toronto or as part of a broader, provincial recognition of our demonstrable value at universities and colleges. I must be an outspoken champion of the work that journalists do on campuses and an outspoken critic of the provincial government’s attack on the freedom of the student press.

I must also keep running this newspaper, which prides itself on strong, responsible coverage of issues that matter to students. And there’s no getting around it — this is an issue that matters to students, and we will continue to report on it.

The necessity of my role as a public advocate for The Varsity has the potential to clash with the code of journalistic ethics that applies to all of our work. My bias on the issue of student fees is blatant and forceful, and it cannot seep into our reporting and risk damaging our accuracy and credibility.

As such, we are taking steps to isolate our coverage of the changes to student fees from my public advocacy, and I am recusing myself from editing any stories that pertain to this issue.

We have designated two members of our News team — Adam A. Lam and Andy Takagi — as the only reporters who will write about the changes to the student fees framework in News. Their work will be closely monitored and edited by Josie Kao, the News Editor. Reut Cohen, the Managing Editor, is taking over the responsibility of doing final edits on all News pieces on this subject and publishing these articles.

Reut will also take over the editing and publishing responsibilities for Business and Comment articles on the topic, and oversee their production with Michael Teoh and Ibnul Chowdhury, the respective editors of these sections. Adam, Andy, Reut, Josie, Michael, and Ibnul will not publicly express opinions about the changes to student fees, and I will not interfere in their work.

It is vital that I do everything in my power to advocate for The Varsity as an essential service to students, but our survival is dependent on our ability to continue producing unmatched and quality journalism. One cannot interfere with the other.

Hopefully this will not be necessary for long.