An open letter to KSA council

Editorial Division
Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dear Council,

The Runner is extremely concerned about recent dealings with the executive board of the Kwantlen Student Association (KSA) and believes that every member of the KSA council, every student of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and the entire community that Kwantlen serves needs to be aware of recent events.

Many of you are aware of The Runner’s recent coverage of apparent conflicts-of-interest within the KSA executive board. This issue is of great concern to those involved and needs to be addressed fully, appropriately, and professionally. The Runner has actively sought, and is still seeking, comment from those executives named in the story, but have met with no response.

In the early evening of Tuesday, August 2, two members of The Runner’s editorial division, as well as one, non-voting member of council, attempted to get comments on the conflict-of-interest story from the executive board. As they waited for a response in the area adjacent to the KSA office, a Surrey RCMP constable informed them that a director felt threatened by The Runner’s presence and requested that they leave the area. Additionally, the constable mentioned that any photographs taken would result in the camera’s confiscation by the RCMP. To avoid escalating the situation, the two Runner staff and the member of council complied with the request and left the area.

This is not the KSA’s first attempt at undermining and hindering The Runner’s reporting activities. Council has, in several previous occasions, attempted to ban electronic recording devices at open, public meetings of the society, in measures that seemed directed at The Runner’s reporters. In recent weeks, this has shifted to continuous questioning about the legitimacy of the Polytechnic Ink Publishing Society Autonomy Agreement, which explicitly protects The Runner’s ability to report on stories of interest to the students of KPU.

As well, recent reports by executive have attempted to call into question the accuracy of Runner coverage of the KSA. As has been said in previous letters to council, The Runner stands by its coverage and its reporters. Attempts by The Runner to seek a response, comment, or even correction from executive have been ignored. Council has labelled our stories as being “rife with half-truths” without any effort on their part whatsoever to correct what executive sees as “false-hoods.”

The Runner is concerned about this ongoing response from the KSA executive board. As has been said in two previous letters to council, staff members at The Runner take their jobs seriously. We are committed to quality, professional, informative journalism that asks tough questions. And yet, not only are we met with silence from elected officials concerning serious issues within the KSA, but fit and proper journalistic practices are now being met with heavy-handed overreactions.

It is in the interest of the students of Kwantlen that the executive board and council be forthcoming and transparent, not only with regards to the conflict-of-interest issue, but also with the involvement of the RCMP. As directors of the student society, the executive and members of council have an obligation to serve students to the best of their ability. The attempts to silence Kwantlen’s independent student-run newspaper go against the core of Canadian values and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and are both questionable, and unacceptable.

Sincerely,

Jeff Groat
Coordinating Editor

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