STUDENT magazine under investigation

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By Heather Travis
Friday, March 6, 2009
A magazine which has received criticism from students about its content and representations of women is under investigation by The University of Western Ontario Campus Community Police.
 
A glossy magazine titled STUDENT was distributed this week across campus. Several letters were published in the student newspaper, The Gazette, in response to the publication and complaints were issued to the University Students’ Council and campus police.
 
Among the controversial images in the magazine are photos of female Western students dressed in bikinis playing in the snow in “Summer dream in a sub-zero scene” and the explanatory article “How to make a ping-pong ball cannon.”
 
On its website, the magazine says its intention is to provide students with a “well-rounded student publication made ‘for students, by students’” and feature budding journalists, artists and models.
 
In the magazine’s introduction, Editor-In-Chief, Marshall Goldfarb says STUDENT is “Canada’s student experience magazine.”
 
“STUDENT magazine was started on the premise of providing students with more choice and opportunity ... By adding another publication to the mix, especially one that isn't produced by Western or its affiliates, we are giving students more material for them to read while on campus,” says Goldfarb in an e-mail to the Western News.

“We want to provide our readers with fresh new content that pushes the boundaries set up by our administration and knocks down the taboos that we are supposed to be afraid of.”

Goldfarb acknowledges he received mixed reaction to the magazine. However, he encourages anyone, including those that disagree with him, to contribute to the publication.

Not all of the magazine’s contributors were Western students, he says. Students from York University, the University of Toronto, Fanshawe College and the University of Windsor helped with the publication.

“As a fellow student, I know how difficult it is to get your voice heard, especially by those who don't agree with your opinions and views. So I would like to thank everyone who has sent us comments, especially the negative ones,” he says.

The magazine is privately funded through advertisers and sponsors.
 
But, it is not only the content, but the way the magazine was distributed that is being questioned.
 
The university has a strict policy on approval, distribution and commercialization of publications on campus.
 
“We were asked to look into this and determine if there are any violations of this particular circulation,” says director of campus police Elgin Austen. “We are looking at the content, the distribution, the approval process, the policies of the university, and so forth.”
 
In the past, unauthorized distribution at the university of posters and documents have been removed by police at a cost assigned back to the distributor, says Austen.
 
“The university needs to and has ways of managing information and the distribution of information across campus that affects students and the image of the university and has policies in place to address such issues,” he says.  
 
If the magazine is found to have violated university polices, it is still undetermined what action will be taken, he adds.
 
Although the magazine was distributed in the University Community Centre, University Students’ Council (USC) communications officer Rachel Halpern says the USC did not give its approval.
 
“This magazine was not brought to us by a USC-ratified club – in fact it wasn’t brought to us at all – therefore was not approved and not given permission to be distributed in this building,” she says.
 
Anyone interested in distributing publications in the UCC must adhere to the USC Community Standards Policy and the USC Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy.
 
“We want students to understand the USC has the best interest for students and we do have this committee to oversee material in order to protect students from offensive material,” she says.
 
“If this was brought forward, it wouldn’t have been approved as for the reasons laid out before (concerns about representations of women and image of the university).”

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