It’s clear the University of Windsor’s student government doesn’t love The Lance a lot.
Last week, the 85-year-old student newspaper was told to halt the presses by the University of Windsor Students’ Alliance after accruing a $24,000 deficit, which the UWSA board of directors deemed unacceptable.
On Monday night, The Lance announced the paper would reinstate print publication for its April 17 issue and a new operating strategy would be submitted for approval. If passed, print publication could return.
However, the reason behind the initial decision is still a pressing concern for many staff members. Assertions have been made this was due to recent articles published by The Lance, critical of the government. Notably, in their most recent print issue, the front page featured the article “Electile Dysfunction: Multiple allegations of corruption plague the UWSA.”
“The board of directors for the UWSA made a decision to order us to cease all print operations immediately. Now that was decided last Wednesday evening—our article about the elections hit newsstands on Tuesday,” Jon Liedtke, features editor for The Lance and author of the elections article, explained. “I think the timing is highly suspect. I can definitely understand how people would want to make that inference.”
Liedtke noted the board of directors’ resolution to shut down operations of The Lance was made without consulting any of its staff. In fact, the paper didn’t find out until after the decision had been made.
“I only found out about it because I was at an elections ratification meeting and people who had made the decision were speaking about it,” he said. “Actually, they didn’t even reach out directly—it was the general manager of the UWSA [who approached us], not the board of directors, who made the decision.”
The UWSA’s board of directors has denied accusations of press censorship, instead stressing the constraints on the budget the paper represented.
“The board was made aware, at the last meeting, that The Lance was losing quite a bit of money this year. Because The Lance is a subsidiary of the UWSA, the deficit it incurred would have to be absorbed by the UWSA’s overall budget,” Jamal Mohamud, a member of the board of directors, explained. “This budget had been severely constrained and had undergone cuts across the board, making the absorption of a several thousand dollar deficit a rather difficult endeavour.”
Regarding the lack of notice to The Lance, Mohamud explained time constraints prevented The Lance from being adequately notified about the board’s decision.
“Unfortunately, due to time constraints, a decision had to be made as quickly as possible,” he said.
Students have also come to the support of their paper, with a Facebook page titled ‘Save the Lance’ springing up garnering hundreds of ‘likes’ since its inception two nights ago.
“The amount of ‘likes’ and outcries of support we’ve got in the last couple of hours has been amazing,” Caroline Jacobson, creator of the page, explained.
The future of The Lance will be confirmed some time next month.