'It would enhance our ability to build community': UNA looks to restart community newspaper

The University Neighbourhoods Association (UNA) is working to revive its newspaper, The Campus Resident, after it stopped production in January 2022 following the death of publisher John Tompkins.

Tompkins was the business manager and editor of The Campus Resident for the past 12 years after starting it himself in 2010. The paper looked to address issues in and give voice to the community.

At the June 21 UNA Board of Directors meeting, the directors discussed four potential alternatives to the newspaper. This included hiring a contractor, partnering with the UBC School of Journalism, assembling a community editorial team or outsourcing the newspaper to an existing newspaper publisher, such as Postmedia or Black Press Media.

UNA Board Chair Richard Watson told The Ubyssey he hoped to work with the School of Journalism to revive the paper — which he said would offer the UNA journalistic independence while simultaneously creating a learning opportunity for students.

He said outsourcing to other existing publications off campus, such as The Georgia Straight, would minimize the personal and hyperlocal aspect of The Campus Resident.

The revival of the newspaper is very important to members of the community, and they have noticed the loss of it in the past few months, according to those who spoke to The Ubyssey.

“The Campus Resident was a bulwark connecting us and keeping us informed of our relationships with the First Nations whose unceded territory we’re living on, our landlord UBC, and each other,” Olivia Fermi, a UNA resident, wrote in an email.

However some residents have concerns that the new paper will not allow the same freedoms that Tompkins’ paper did. Dr. Charles Menzies, a UBC anthropology professor and UNA resident who has started his own paper, said he hopes whatever model the UNA settles on will place press autonomy ahead of UNA messaging.

Whatever form the new paper takes, Watson believes it will benefit the UNA community

“Having a publication like this improves our democratic forms of governance, so it allows voices to speak that otherwise wouldn’t have an opportunity,” he said. “It would enhance our ability to build community.”