It Goes For You Too

As I write this, you and other members of The Link Publication Society are hours away from taking part in its annual general assembly. At the bottom of your notice for this meeting is written the following: “Constitutional amendments are available at The Link office.”

To me, this means this list of proposed amendments are not available anywhere else. They were not printed in the paper or available on the website (for that matter, neither is the constitution itself). The Link’s board seems to be doing everything in its power to make it difficult for students to find out what those changes are, in case any may disagree with them and want to round up support to vote them down.

It’s a perfectly understandable and justifiable fear. But it’s still wrong. I don’t say this lightly. I know more than most the dangers of student politicians using their voting power to take control of the paper for the sole purpose of affecting its editorial content. I know, because I lived that very experience in 2001. The tug-of-war that resulted led to the paper being shut down over the summer.

In the years that followed, I proposed changes to The Link’s bylaws that strengthened its protections from those political forces. (They may still be in place. I don’t know for sure, because I don’t have access to
The Link’s constitution.) I learned that increased transparency helps the free press more than it hinders it, even if it may sometimes seem in the paper’s best interest to try to manipulate its own democratic processes.
It’s a delicate balancing act between a paper being free of political control and being accountable to its members and properly protected from itself. But secrecy doesn’t protect The Link from politicians. It only serves to make it unaccountable and untransparent. And that makes it wrong.
I read with interest your recent decision to increase the use of your website by moving breaking news there. You can make a big leap in transparency by also posting your bylaws, constitutional amendments and (open) board meeting minutes.

Transparency is scary in a world where knowledge is power. But The Link is strong. And if any politicians try to take it over again, I’ll be the first to run down there with a picket sign and make sure they don’t succeed.

Please reconsider your policy.

—Steve Faguy,
B.CompSc 2004, GrDip Journ. 2005
Editor-in-Chief 2003-04