Editorial

The Fulcrum has been covering the U of O since 1942. Photo: Fulcrum/U of O Archives

For the price of a cup of coffee, you can support a year of student journalism

Picture this: The year is 2021 and you’re strolling through the University of Ottawa campus, heading toward King Edward Avenue. 

The street will probably look nearly exactly the same as it does today, with Father and Sons still perched on its corner, beckoning hungover students inside with open arms, and the growing U of O campus stretching out across the opposite side of the bustling road. 

But a new policy introduced by the provincial government is threatening to bring a seismic change to King Edward Avenue: the shuttering of our office doors. 

Doug Ford’s Student Choice Initiative (SCI), a policy that came into effect this semester, allows post-secondary students to opt out of paying previously mandatory fees supporting student life on campus, put in place through democratic referendums. At the U of O, our fee has fallen under that chopping block. 

While the SCI hasn’t pushed us into panic mode yet, it certainly puts us in a precarious situation. We were forced to cut our usual team of about 15 paid staffers in half, along with the salaries of the paid positions that remain, to ensure we’d stay financially viable through the rough waters we’re facing. 

Now we’re asking for your help to continue to stay afloat. Let us convince you why continuing that investment of $3.40 a semester (yes, that’s definitely less than the price of that drink you bought at Starbucks last week) is worth every cent.

For starters, we cover campus news like no other media outlet can, and we publish the impactful stories to back it up. 

In the past year, we’ve provided the community with comprehensive coverage of the collapse of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) and the historic transition to the University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU). We’ve also worked to cover the spectrum of mental health issues on campus, from access to resources and support to sharing students’ unfiltered experiences.

At the same time, we’ve reported on responses and actions after a Black U of O student was carded and handcuffed this summer by Protection Services, as well as the variety of impacts the SCI and changes to OSAP are having on campus life.

Ourselves and our French-language newspaper on campus, La Rotonde, are also the only institutions working to keep constant tabs on our student government. If you were around last year and watched the strain this campus endured in leaving the SFUO behind and moving toward the UOSU instead, you’ll undoubtedly know why that’s important.

If you’re willing to get a bit philosophical with us, opting out could hurt the pillars of student journalism that play a crucial role in keeping our campus healthy and vibrant.

Our journalism at its core works to challenge worldviews, amplify underserved voices and stories, and hold those in power accountable. When these pieces of our mandate are hindered, the U of O community will suffer.

The Fulcrum is also first and foremost a space for growth and learning. One of our favourite parts of working here is getting the chance to meet young people and giving them the toolkits and support they need to grow their skills and follow their dreams. If the Fulcrum goes down, so does a crucial launchpad for burgeoning journalists looking to get their start in the industry.

That loss of our incubator wouldn’t just hurt students at the U of O looking to break into the mediasphere, but also the Canadian journalism industry at large. Our thousands of talented alumni have gone on to do great things in the global mediascape, from snooping out disinformation and scams online for Buzzfeed to covering health for the Global and Mail.

The SCI could mean the next anchor of CBC’s The National or a future investigative reporter at the Toronto Star will never enter the industry in the first place.

To those who have already decided to stay opted in to the journalism the Fulcrum produces, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Every page view, share, like, follow, and repost does not go unnoticed and we appreciate your support.

For those who decided to opt out of our fee, we respect your decision, no matter the reasoning. All we ask is that you take a few moments to reconsider staying opted in after reading this editorial. If we shifted your perspective, even a little, it’s not too late to support us. The opt in period ends on Sept. 27, giving you tons of time to head online and reverse that decision. 

We’re approaching our 80th birthday and with your help, we plan on living long past our 100th. For $3.40, help us continue producing the award-winning and thought-provoking journalism that we’re known for.

Editorials are written by the Fulcrum’s six-person editorial board and express the opinion of the board.