The End of The Athenaeum is Near

Photo by Maple Sloan (3rd Year Business Major)

For 147 years, The Athenaeum has been the voice of students at Acadia University. It has reported on the comings and goings of the world, debated major issues, and shed light on parts of the institution that had been shrouded in darkness. It has been a launching pad for bankers, educators, lawyers, Senators, Members of Parliament, activists, authors, poets, entrepreneurs and researchers.  

 That could soon be coming to an end.

The Students’ Representative Council (SRC) recently discussed a potential motion to defund The Athenaeum and Axe Radio, the only two sources of student media on campus, by depriving editors and contributors of honoraria. If the SRC goes forward with their discussion in the form of an official proposed motion, this would reduce the status of both to clubs rather than Internal Organizations, allowing them to apply for club grants and ratification year after year rather than receive student funding.

This latest move follows a series of attacks on the newspaper. During my tenure, we were bullied into firing an editor because of our reporting on the SRC. Last year, The Ath’s budget was cut dramatically, and the paper was evicted from the office space it had occupied for over twenty years. Now the ASU is looking to cut loose the only two sources of student media in the name of reducing its deficit. The organization doesn’t post their budget proposals on its website, nor have they minutes since October 2020.

The reality is that this is the latest in a long series of attacks against student journalism. Cutting the honoraria to contributors of The Ath and Axe Radio would amount to barely $5000. The ASU is facing a deficit in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Cutting honoraria for the only two sources of already starved union media makes little sense. This move towards supposedly saving students money is nothing more than a systemic assault on free press on Acadia’s campus.

By converting The Ath and Axe Radio into clubs, they instantly lose their guaranteed funding to be the students’ voice across campus. This opens them up to the same process as other clubs to apply for funding, controlled entirely by the ASU and its representatives. If said representatives dislike the writings of the paper, as has often happened when both report on the comings and goings of the ASU, they can simply refuse to fund either.

It astonishes me that I have to make the case for a free press. Societies that lack such are often at the bottom of democracy indexes: Iran, North Korea, Russia, Belarus, Eritrea. It would be a shame for the ASU to join the ranks of these states by completing its assault on The Athenaeum and Axe Radio.

And surely the SRC recognizes that defunding the only two sources of student media on campus would not reflect well on their futures. After all, the ASU’s mission statement as an organization “dedicated to serving its members through effective representation and communication [by offering] innovative and quality services while providing a variety of opportunities which enhance the overall University experience of the students of Acadia” should ring true.

My four years at The Athenaeum constituted the best experiences I had at Acadia. I know I’m not alone here. There’s a reason this paper has lasted for so long. It’s because it has tied the Acadia community together. We’ve written about endemic cocaine use on campus. We’ve written about Acadia’s flirtations with white supremacy and eugenics. We’ve written about the need for democracy on campus. We’ve written about the attempted takeover of the university by the Baptists in the 1960s. We’ve written about the use of sexually violent language in sport and why we need to wake up. We’ve written about the SMILE program and how it changes the lives of its participants.

If the SRC goes forward with their discussion in the form of an official proposed motion, The Athenaeum and Axe Radio may stop publishing altogether. The stories that need to be told will cease in the name of saving a few dollars, and the ASU will have nobody to blame but themselves.

If you care about The Athenaeum and Axe Radio, now is the time to speak up. This isn’t the first fight both have faced, and it certainly won’t be the last.

In the end, The Athenaeum is nothing more than a record of what happened. It does not persist because of a magical institution and aggressive archivists that demand copies of the paper. It persists because we all have stories to share. We are merely custodians of history. Our history has taught us that we will always persist, and we will triumph.

Now is certainly the time to persist. Now is the time to demand freedom of the press and share these stories. Now is the time for action. Email the ASU executive to let them know that this is wrong. Donate to The Athenaeum Journalism Award to support future journalists. Add your name to this ever-growing list and demonstrate that free press won’t go down without a fight.

 [email protected]

[email protected]

[email protected]

[email protected]

[email protected]

 

Signed,

Colin Mitchell ‘19

Rylie Moscato ‘22

Chris Vanderburgh ‘19

Santana Briggs ‘19

Jeremy Ayotte ‘19

Ellen Merchant ‘19

Emily Ellis ‘19

Hayley Phoenix ‘18

Ailish Bergin ‘21

Sid Kondapuram ‘19

Josée Leger ‘20

Jennah Lay ‘19

Kelsey Crouse ‘21

Alex McKaigue ‘19

Sarah Lavallée ‘22

Oliver Jacob ‘21

Mike Butler ‘02

Sarah Surette ‘19

Ellie del Valle ‘19

Kyle Bower ‘21

Ana Martin ‘19

Philip Davis ‘22

Cali Keating ‘18

Gabrielle Therrien ‘20

Sacha Russo ‘19

Michelle MacDonald ‘20

Emily Ashley ‘22

Chris Saulnier ‘19

Jade Veinotte ‘22

Liddy Greer ‘22

Jenna Bouwman ‘22

Kate Robart ‘22

Sarah Surette ’19

Maple Sloan ’22

Terron Spence ‘18

Sierra Pineo ‘19

Andrew Haskett ‘18

Mckayla Morris ‘16

Katie Chevel ‘18

Nicole Skinner ‘22
Reilley Perrins ‘19

Sarah Hines ‘17

Kayla Mansfield-Brown ‘15 and ‘19

Katie Winters ‘19 and ‘21

Taylor Baker ‘19

Lara Hartman ‘21

Colin Bruce ’21

Luke Stock ’16

Kasey DeVries ‘16

Benjamin Gaskins ‘23

Micah Carruthers ‘18

Rachel Sparling ‘19

Hannah-Grace Morgan ‘19

Victoria Hendrycks ‘20 

Kaitlyn Comeau ‘22

Heather Fraser ‘01

Irfana Hameed ‘18

Elektra Papadogiorgaki ‘19

Kyle Thompson-Clement ‘19

Evelyn Hein ‘20

Tomi McCarthy ‘20 

Melanie Pos ‘16

Rosemary Herron ‘22

Carter Feltham ‘18 and 20

Madison Hathaway ‘19

Shelby McPhee ‘18 and ‘20

Laura Porter-Muntz ‘19

Jordan Gunn ‘19

Ross Chapman ’02

Sarah Lennerton ‘03

Axel Eschholz ‘24

Carol Ann (Pope) Burden ‘71 and ‘72

Paul Burden ‘72

Samantha Teichman ‘19

In memory-Gerald D. St-Amand ‘72

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2 comments

  1. I would like to help with this. A storied school. Needs an institution to tell its stories. If you budget is 5k a year. I am sure I/we can help. John Herron class of 1993. Please connect with me.

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