KPU Would Benefit From a Translated Student Newspaper

The University of Toronto's The Varsity publishes in multiple languages; maybe it’s time for The Runner to follow suit

Concept for a Spanish translated issue of The Runner (Epifanía Alarcón)

Canada is quickly becoming one of the most desirable locations for international students looking to obtain a post-secondary education.

Due to the increasing number of non-native English speakers here, branching out into other languages seems like a natural strategy for publications that want to extend their readership within the student population. It especially helps further the mandate of any respectable news publication: to inform the public as thoroughly and democratically as possible. There’s an exclusivity inherent to media that only caters to Anglophones, and this bias contradicts the principles of responsible journalism.

At least one student news publication in Canada is trying to break away from their English bias, as Jacob Lorinc, Editor in Chief of the University of Toronto’s The Varsity, explains.

“A student group at U of T called The Listeners—which aims to help guide international Chinese students through university—suggested that we translate some of our articles into simplified Chinese. Inspired by The New York Times, we then decided to dedicate an entire section of our website to Chinese articles as well,” writes Lorinc in an email.

Since September of last year, The Varsity has published two versions of their newspaper: one in English and one in simplified Chinese.

“Many [international students] really enjoy it, and many appreciate the way that this project engages Chinese readers and student journalists,” Lorinc writes. “If you have the resources, it’s not difficult to do. We were lucky to have an abundance of Chinese students on campus who were interested in translating for us.”

Making an earnest effort to reach out to students whose first language is not English can draw students together and foster a tighter-knit community on campus. KPU in particular has a large population of international students, and that number is quickly rising. In fact, this February, KPU had to stop taking enrolment applications from international students for the rest of the year due to the sheer number of applicants it received. This year, the university received over 2,500 applications from international students, compared to just over 1,200 from the same time last year.

The fact that KPU has become such a popular option for students, particularly from India and China, heavily supports the notion that the student body here would benefit from having a student newspaper that published multiple versions, probably in Mandarin and/or Punjabi.

According to Statistics Canada, the 2016 census data recorded that 106,100 Surrey residents spoke Punjabi as their mother tongue, and that 77,615 spoke Punjabi most often at home. 32,780 Surrey residents speak some form of Chinese as their mother tongue. In Richmond, 70,375 residents reported that they primarily spoke Chinese at home, which is over a third of Richmond’s total population.

The Surrey and Richmond campuses are the largest post-secondary institutions in both of those municipalities, and of KPU’s four campuses, Surrey and Richmond have the highest student populations.

Taking all of this into consideration, there is a strong case to be made that the KPU community would benefit from having access to translated versions of their student publication.

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