Take Back the Lance.

This was the speech given by Meghan Mills at the information and awareness rally on December the 2nd regarding the practices of the University of Windsor student news paper, the Lance.

Take Back the Lance

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!

Take Back the Lance.

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.


11 responses to “Take Back the Lance.

  1. wow you people actually delete comments? and you promote “voices being heard?” that’s a little hypocritical, don’t you think? by the way, i’m a feminist, and i looked through your version of the lance, called “the glance” and it’s ALL about women’s bullshit. sorry to say this, but not EVERY STUDENT on this campus devotes their lives to feminism, so stop trying to ‘convert’ people. I understand that you want more diversity in the lance – i get that. But turning the lance into your version, that’s alienating men a bit, isn’t it? I thought your version of feminism isn’t about men-hating, yet the glance reads like bitch magazine.

  2. like i guess what im trying to say is.. you can’t get angry at the lance because we’re writing articles about people who just happen to be white or male… if you want to write about someone who you think is important.. then write for the lance.. you can’t just blame people for being white/male/heterosexual, i understand patriarchy but ive never NOT written an article just because it wasn’t fitting into heteronormativity, i just wrote articles based on what was interesting.

  3. It was stated in the post that the Glance has an openly feminist perspective, therefore it carries a specific political perspective that is different from any other type of publication. I’m not sure what content was ‘man hating’ in the Glance. The point of the issue was to write a feminist student news paper, by student and for students. Surely the students are not asking for the Lance to be turned into the Glance, but wanted to show what a feminist student news paper could look like, giving a voice to a political perspective that is not normally heard. I also think you are misinterpreting “man-hating” for “patriarchy hating”. Challenging the systemic issues of patriarchy is not the same as “hating men”. The class also found problems not limited to the content of the Lance, but also what the Lance chooses to leave out. This says a lot in itself.
    I would also like to note that it is stated that the WSSA is supporting the initiative taken by the students who are addressing this issue, not heading this initiative.

  4. Clara,
    I’m glad you checked this post out, and this is exactly what we wanted – for people to be passionate about the content in the Lance. I’m not sure to what comment you were referring to that was deleted, and if it was, I’m sure there is a reasonable explanation. At any rate, I’m sorry.

    I think it’s great that you’re a feminist, and since you are, you will also understand that there are many different forms of feminism, and as such, you will not necessarily agree with the opinions of others. We didn’t expect everyone would agree with us, but since a group of students do believe the Lance to have problematic content, then surely something should be done – and it is. The Students involved in the protest (who are no longer enrolled in 53 410 but are still continuing) are continuing to meet with the Lance. Negotiations are underway.

    You used an interesting choice of words when you wrote “it’s all about women’s bullshit.” Women’s issues /content that are related to women are bullshit? The Glance – hence the punny name – was a sort of spoof edition of the Lance. The Glance was used during the protest to demonstrate what kind of news could also be covered. We are not “turning the Lance into the Glance.” As stated in all of our class visits and protest: we believe in what the Lance could be. We want people to read the Lance, and have no intention of creating a new one.

    As for your suggestion that we are trying to “convert” people to feminism – we are only hoping to have students engage in critical thinking. That’s all. I wouldn’t expect anyone to change their politics, I would only ask that they carefully examine their campus and the representation of it. The protesters in which you speak (including myself) do not “man hate.” In fact, we rely on a lot of men. Men are excellent resources and allies, and we would never dream of “hating” on any of them. Interestingly a great deal of men support this movement and are continuing to support in the negotiations with the Lance.

    I take issue with your suggestion that I should write for the Lance – that is not my responsibility. Also, the writing I do contribute, is not appropriate for the Lance, and is often included in other publications (WSSA publication ,Student Movement, and the Post Binary Gender Chores blog). Please do not assume that the people who are advocating for change do not do everything we can to implement and foster change ourselves. The Lance, however, is not our responsibility. We find the responsibility to ensure accurate and fair representation to rely squarely on the shoulders of those who contribute and or produce the Lance.

    Also, this idea that we have accused the Lance of purposely engaging in discrimination is inaccurate. We don’t think the editors or contributors would– or ever would – have done this intentionally (if we had thought this, the movement would have been very different). No, in fact, we think the editors and all writers of the Lance could benefit from sensitivity training to further their knowledge of discrimination and inclusiveness.

    The WSSA has no affiliation with this protest; they are merely covering issues that are feminist-oriented. Also, please note that “feminism” does not imply “women only.” While feminism may centre on women’s rights, I assure you – regardless of your personal definition – the majority of self-proclaimed feminists acknowledge the intersecting factors that influence oppression (homophobia, able-ism, racism, sexism, classism, etc.)

    Thanks for your comment, and I’m sorry they were deleted beforehand.

  5. Okay, I understand where you are coming from, but what are your suggestions on making it better? We can’t simply do a story on a person just for the mere fact that they are a homosexual or minority. That would only further emphasize their “difference”. I support diversity and equality, but I think you should give some specific suggestions on how to implement this. Also, besides the spoof edition of the Lance, what other examples have you found to be offensive?

  6. Clara,

    I’m wondering if you were at the protest? We provided a pamphlet that detailed some examples, in addition to proposing solutions. In fact, we would never dream that the Lance should tokenize anyone or any specific group. However, making an effort to say, cover the National Transgendered Day of Remembrance (which, is actually only one day of an entire week) would’t be tokenizing.

    Our argument is that an ad in the paper asking for writers does not qualify as an adequate form of reaching out. This is a university paper, and although we acknowledge that the level or work behind reaching out to groups is enormous, it is nevertheless the responsibility of the Lance to ensure that students are being represented. Additionally, if groups on campus knew that the Lance was genuinely interested in addressing issues or covering events, I am sure more groups would begin to reach out.

    I’d be happy to go over a few with you specific cases:

    Students found the article, “The Cult of Multiculturalism” to be offensive. I’d like to reiterate, that we are not insinuating that the writer of this article intended to write this article maliciously, instead, we are asserting that the article – regardless of the intentions behind it – was perceived to be racist and offensive.

    The content within the Campus Kiss, although discontinued, is problematic. We wanted to discuss the Campus Kiss because it demonstrates the systematic prejudice that has become integrated within the Lance. By exemplifying these pieces, we are trying to demonstrate that the issue aren’t a result of the people who work for the Lance, but rather are direct consequences of the Lance as an organization (i.e., the lack of emphasis on sensitivity as well as representation).

    Moreover, the articles that do cover issues that are relevant to certain groups of students are problematic, for instance, the article on the voyeur who broke into Electa was titled “Jeepers Peeper.” This language immediately trivializes the violence behind the act in addition to belittling and legitimizing the traumatic experience of several women.

    Although the Lance has addressed this issue, the date and time for Take Back the Night was left out of the Lance. Although this may appear as “one random mistake,” when coupled with additional evidence, a pattern of these kinds of mistakes or mishaps is undeniable.

    The interview of a man who “will work for food,” which has now recently been taken down from their website is additional evidence for the lack of sensitivity. The video was exploitative and trivialized a very serious reality for many people.

    By not including information about events/issues facing students on campus, the Lance is fostering a climate of silence. Issues that are pertinent to women, discussions of the lack of accessibility for the physically impaired, sensitive news coverage of homelessness/unemployment, resources for those seeking psychological services, resource list for those adjusting moving to Canada as well as a contact/resource information for those seeking a designated “safe place” like Out on Campus, should be addressed in the university paper.

    By not including these things makes the paper exclusive to a certain audience. Our campus is supposedly one of the most diverse campuses in Canada, and we’re merely trying to have our paper reflect that.

    Regarding specific solutions, we have advocated for an updated policy as well as sensitivity training for all editors (and editor-in-chief) that will surely take place in the New Year. In our last meeting with the Lance, we provided them with a complete list of clubs and organizations. We have yet to continue our negotiations with the Lance (since the holidays are now upon on) but we hope to resume in the New Year.

    Sorry for the excessive reply, I am really trying to be thorough because we care about what you have to say. As you said earlier – all opinions matter. We are eager to hear them. We want students to be critical, and that includes being critical of us.

    I hope I answered your questions.

  7. I’m sorry,

    To fix a previous mistake – I meant delegitimizes. My apologies. I was in a hurry to have your questions answered.

  8. Okay to be fair – you do have some good points. But like you said – I don’t think anyone is out to be offensive or avoidant on purpose, even if there seems to be many coincidences. I think most peoples’ realities are very narrow, so it is important to educate on diversity and minority culture. Sorry if I was being a bitch earlier, I just personally don’t agree with certain aspects of radical feminism, like taking apart every small detail. I’m not sure that every small detail always sends a message, sometimes it is what it is. Thanks for responding. As a on and off writer of the Lance, in the future I’ll try to find more diverse stories; and I think that your department should work with the Lance, as you mentioned before, to provide some suggestions on how to broaden our horizons.

  9. I agree – I doubt very much that the Lance editors/writers were maliciously intending to harm anyone. In fact, I personally know some of the editors and know that they wouldn’t.

    I really appreciate you being brave enough to voice your opinion. You are not the only person to disagree with us, and you demonstrating your opposition opens up more room for others to be critical – and we really do want that.

    I think you’re right – we all have a part to play in helping to keep this campus as diverse as possible. The editors or the Lance – nor anyone for that matter – is going to be politically correct and/or sensitive 100% of the time, but I’d like to think we should try (and not because we feel obligated, but because we want to). I like your suggestion, and will definitely be on the lookout for ways to help.

    I’m glad we’ve come to an agreement, and I really appreciate your willingness to help make this campus representative of everyone – it’s a lot of work, but it’s gotta be done.

    Happy Holidays, Clara (and make sure to take a break from work)!

  10. happy holidays to you too!

  11. Pingback: Students respond to the latest edition of the Lance | W.S.S.A @ UWindsor

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