The KSU and the Watch on two different pages

Two organizations following two different agreements

The Watch hasn’t received any of its levy yet this school year. Photo: Erin Way

A recent disagreement between the King’s Student Union and the university’s student run publication has snowballed into something garnering national media attention.

On Jan. 13, a Canadian University Press editorial, King’s College student union should work with the Watch and release funds, caused quite a stir among parts of the King’s community. The Watch’s levy for this school year is $13,656.

Michaela Sam, president of the King’s Student Union, says the levy would have been released had the Watch publishing board conducted a legitimate vote to release the levy. Although the vote was passed unanimously at a Dec. 4, 2014 meeting, Sam says quorum wasn’t legally met.

The requirement she speaks of comes from a 2001 agreement between the Watch and the KSU. The Watch publisher, Rachel Ward, is in her sixth year at King’s. She says the agreement surfaced for the first time last spring. She said the document was brought to the Watch’s attention after it was discovered by the financial vice-president at the time.

Ward says the Watch doesn’t function under the agreement. They abide strictly by their own constitution.

“It’s completely archaic, it was developed 15 years ago, we do not function under that, and it’s in contravention to the constitution that our members created.”

 The agreement hasn’t been updated for this school year and includes some outdated information and requirements that don’t align with the Watch’s constitution, she says. (See below.)

“In my view, this document doesn’t count,” Ward says firmly.

What contributors are saying

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Nick Holland, co-editor-in-chief of the Watch feels the publication was set up for failure for the levy release. Photo: Erin Way

Nick Holland is co-editor-in-chief for the Watch.

“What I find kind of frustrating,” Holland said, “is there are so many bureaucratic steps to be taken and it’s tough that we weren’t aware of it.”

“For me, personally, it kind of feels like we were set up for failure.”

He didn’t know about the agreement until after the CUP article was released. It frustrates him that these rules and conditions surfaced after the Watch had failed to follow them.

Paisley Conrad, a first-year King’s student, didn’t even know that she had money to lose. As a regular contributor to the Watch, she wouldn’t receive an honorarium, but she would receive some compensation for her work. Conrad heard about the levy issue for the first time through the CUP article.

“I was initially really angry with the KSU,” she said. She felt the KSU should be supporting the free press. But when she read the KSU’s response to the CUP article, she changed her tune.

“I was a little bit frustrated with the Watch itself,” she said. “It was the organization this year that has led to this whole problem.”

“It just makes (the Watch) look kind of bad in this situation.”

Confusion a common sentiment

There’s a common sentiment among everyone involved in the situation, whether KSU or watch: confusion.

Watch contributors are confused about why they haven’t received their honorarium.

The KSU is confused about why the Watch hasn’t approached them to discuss a plan to get back on track.

James Pottie, member-at-large on the KSU, and a voting member of the Watch board, is confused as to why such a simple problem has caused so much tension.

“I think that this conflict is unnecessary and can be resolved very quickly.”

Both Pottie and KSU president Michaela Sam say that it’s just a matter of the Watch reaching out and asking to meet with the KSU to arrange new plans for the release of the levy.

Sam says she’s disappointed that the Watch didn’t come to her sooner about the levy release. The KSU office shares a wall with the Watch office, and she says she is interviewed by Watch writers on a weekly basis.

Despite some people’s confusion, things are very clear to Watch publisher Rachel Ward.

“The student union is holding onto money that the students paid, for the Watch, and they’re not releasing it after there’s been a vote.”

Ward isn’t sure what the next step will be. She was away in Ottawa for a conference. Both KSU and Watch members hope the levy problem can be resolved upon her return.