Letter from the Editor: The Ubyssey demands transparency from UBC institutions. Here’s our commitment to our own

As news editor, I spent two years writing about the need for transparency from the university and the AMS. It's student money funding the institution therefore students should know how it's spent. To me, it felt like a key part of The Ubyssey's purpose.

But The Ubyssey isn't good at transparency. We don't properly advertise our finances, our annual general meeting or the student positions on our Board of Directors, and our key editorial guidelines and policies aren't easily accessible.

Since I was elected coordinating editor in May, I've been working on updating some of our internal policies and creating some clearer public-facing documents on how we run and why we make the decisions we do. Those pages are now live on our website. 

On the 'How we run' page, there's a brief overview of how The Ubyssey is managed and makes decisions. There are also public links to five key policies that inform how we respond to different requests. Our Anonymity Policy is also clearly outlined.

A new addition is our Unpublishing Policy. As newspapers across the county revamp their unpublishing rules to reflect the impact of a digital footprint, we wanted to do that too. In this policy, we've defined a commitment to the public record and transparency with our audience, but with flexibility built in to reflect the need for compassion when it comes to unpublishing requests.

We also recognize that our perceptions of risk and harm don't always match those of our sources. This policy forces us to interrogate our biases and perspectives when we make these decisions.

We've also released a source guide that's deeply inspired by Toronto Metropolitan University's student newspaper, The Eyeopener's source guide. Here, we outline what it means to be a Ubyssey source and answer some commonly-asked questions.

We also know The Ubyssey needs to be more transparent with its finances. We demand the university and AMS tell us where student money is going and when, but we get hundreds of thousands of dollars from students every year and haven't been as transparent about how that money is used as we should be.

Our financial update is now live on our website, written by our Business Manager, Douglas Baird. It includes some graphics that show where our money is spent and how we're doing financially. It also outlines our financial projections for the next few years — spoiler: things are looking up for us.

If you're interested in further information on The Ubyssey's budget and budget breakdown, email business@ubyssey.ca.

I see this as just the start. The Ubyssey shied away from student engagement during the beginning of the pandemic — partly because of us trying to do our jobs as best as we could while living in a deeply troubling time. Engagement fell off, but we want to be better.

We want to remind you all that we are students who run your student newspaper, not just a group of faceless people who live tweet all the AMS Council meetings.

If you have feedback for us on anything at all, email me at coordinating@ubyssey.ca.