The Lance would have everyone believe that we haven’t come forward to the newspaper with our “complaints”, and because of this, it discredits our position. You know, I could have sworn that I had said something when my own article was left out of the Lance. So, perhaps they did not hear me. Can you hear me now?!
I was nervous when I woke up this morning, before donning this t-shirt and even before brushing my teeth. I was afraid of so many things: the weather, how this speech would turn out, but most importantly, I wondered how I could possibly convey to you the pervasiveness of the discrimination that has become systematically integrated into the institution of the Lance. Then it occurred to me: I cannot, and don’t want to, speak on behalf of anyone else here. We can provide the evidence, but this material will affect everyone differently. We have not been discriminated against, or neglected, in the same way. We must respect the level of complexity that intersectionality has on such things as homophobia, racism, and sexism. These are not necessarily separate issues. That is why we must listen to each other, support each other, and validate each other. This is our campus and we must tell those who would either intentionally – or through misguided good intentions – that discrimination will not be tolerated!
Our coming together has distressed a few people, and depending on the reasons why they’re distressed… maybe it should! The Lance claims that their paper is for the students, representing the students, and by the students. We say they have failed on two out of three of these things, and we are here to hold them accountable! The Lance’s target audience is reflected by their material which is generally white, patriarchal, and heteronormative. Our collective dissatisfaction with the Lance is proof enough that it does not represent us, and that action must be taken to fix these problems immediately!
When we first took up this project up, we were shocked by not just how many people identified with our cause, and how many students were left feeling dissatisfied – to say the very least – with the content in the Lance, but how many students have been forced into silence; left feeling unjustified, disempowered, or alone. Indeed, I am among you, and that is why this needed to happen! For too long have we felt this way. This is their evidence of why we needed to take back the Lance, because this isn’t about one student’s perspective, or one shared collective experience. This is about each of our own experiences being channelled to promote positive change!
That is the foundation of this movement.
Students are coming together with their own experiences, and their own perspectives. We do not presume to speak on behalf of anyone other than ourselves. I come before you today to tell you: Firstly, that you are not alone. Secondly, that you have a right to be angry, and thirdly, that you deserve a space to say so. Since the Lance has not provided you the space to express your concerns and your perspectives – not “complaints” – we have taken one!
Today, when we meet with the UWSA, for which the Lance has been invited, we will ask them: how many angry students do you need for you to take us seriously? How many pieces of evidence do you need, that infringe upon the rights of the students, before you act!?
It should not be considered radical – or absurd – that we want to be represented by our university paper, or that we want to create a discrimination free environment. If we are paying a compulsory fee of *$9.82 a year, totalling a rough estimate of a staggering $90 000 dollars a year – than we deserve fair representation in the Lance. I do not want to contribute my money to further stereotyping and prejudice against racialized students, and I’m not paying this fee so we can further marginalize the LGBTTIQQ2SA community, and I’m definitely not paying this money so that violence against women can be further trivialized. We will not take part in our own oppression!
*It was later learned that students pay $4.91 a year, resulting in approximately $60 000. It is important that students understand that this is not the Lance’s sole income.
If you are unsatisfied with the representations of the Lance, please sign the petition here:
Updates on the progress of this student initiative will be posted.
Photography by Mike Ngo.