Many students are eager to find fault with school services, especially those they do not utilize.
When it comes to the UW student newspaper, Imprint, there is a great deal of confusion about how it should be used.
It is important to note at this juncture that I am a member of the Imprint staff; however, I will try my best to be impartial. It is my opinion that a student newspaper, in the abstract, is a useful thing for a university to have.
Many students claim that they don’t “use” Imprint which to them tends to mean they do not read the paper.
This is a mistake, not because Imprint inherently deserves readers, but because it has uses beyond disseminating information. It may seem that I am shilling for the paper but I encourage readers to take this as an explanation rather than a condemnation of paper opponents.
Imprint differs from other campus papers in two key ways; its primary purpose is giving students a voice rather than solely providing entertainment, and Imprint is responsible for holding student government accountable.
As a student at Waterloo it can sometimes feel like your voice is getting lost in the crowd. Imprint is a resource that students can use to make their voice stand out above the 30,000 others in the school.
More than just a platform, Imprint helps students shape their ideas and arguments into convincing pieces of writing with the power to enact change and get noticed.
A student paper also gives more attention to issues raised by students, with the resources to investigate and report on student concerns that larger media outlets wouldn’t bother to do.
Coverage of this year’s string of student suicides and the subsequent campaign for mental health was aided through the use of Imprint as a platform.
Another key use of Imprint is the paper’s ability to keep student government accountable. Student government is responsible for millions of dollars and has more power over student life than most students realize. Keeping the administration and student politicians accountable is not always the most glamorous but is often the most essential duty of a student newspaper.
At the same time, a school newspaper has a responsibility to students.
Recent changes to Imprint seem to be steering the paper toward a less serious voice – mimicking a magazine more than a periodical. If such change continues, it will severely impact the newspaper’s ability to act as a mouthpiece for the student body’s voice.
Being entertaining is not in itself a vice, but if serious journalism is not a mainstay of the paper, future articles may be treated with disdain simply for being printed in Imprint.
We at Imprint cannot simply be reactive, we must seek out the sentiment of students. We must give a voice to those who have something to say but lack the means or confidence to say it.