Fredericton — The St. Thomas University administration has tolerated the myriad of student reports on the university’s mistakes and controversial policies for years, but it has finally said enough is enough. As of the 2016-17 term, journalism students are no longer allowed to report on the university or file right to information requests with the university for class assignments.
The university also merged the Journalism and Communications programs into one academic department. Government communications officers are often disliked by journalists because, though they claim to exist to “ease the flow of information between the government and the public,” they mostly tend to hide and/or spin mistakes so that reporters and the public only hear “positive” things.
“The hope here is that the students in the merged department will all become close friends. When they grow up and get big-kid jobs, the journalists won’t be able to interrogate their former classmates and friends who are now ‘comms’ officers because there would be too much history, and it would be a conflict of interest,” explained STU president Dawn Russell.
“I was having lunch with Premier Brian Gallant, and he expressed many of the same woes that I have in terms of pesky journalists doing all they can to make you look bad,” said Russell.
“Brian was like: ‘All they do is spread negativity disguised as ‘facts.’ We need good news in New Brunswick, not their constant criticism any time we try to get things done!'” said Russell, with a very accurate Gallant impersonation. “I said, ‘Brian, you’re preaching to the choir! Every time a STU residence gets an alcohol ban we have reporters crawling all over the place.'”
According to Russell, Gallant pointed out that if the university were to stop churning out journalists, the problem would be solved. As the older reporters retire, there would be no new, qualified journalists to fill their vacant positions; nobody is moving to New Brunswick, so there is no possibility of outside help. A firm handshake between Gallant and Russell began an intricate plan to slowly wipe out the journalism program and its students, and eventually, all objective reporting in New Brunswick.
The student reports were valuable because they often broke the news for larger media outlets, who would not have known about campus controversies were it not for student publications. Elise Stromwell, a fourth-year journalism student, said that the rest of the class and the professors are devastated.
“I couldn’t wait to graduate and make a difference in New Brunswick. I’m hoping these new changes won’t affect my year, but I’m worried about the younger, more impressionable first-years!” said Stromwell, before bursting into tears. “Who knows what they’ll be learning? Single-source stories, selfies for photo submissions, opinions in headlines… Oh God, please no!”
“Well, I can say that my job is a lot less stressful,” joked STU’s director of communications, Jeffrey Carleton. “I think I might even miss those Right to Information Act requests — they kept me on my toes.” Carleton let out a heavy sigh while gazing fondly at one of the requests, which he had framed on the wall of his office.
Currently, the independent student newspaper, The Aquinian, is still able to report on the university and file RTI requests, but Carleton assures The Manatee that STU is doing everything in its power to remedy that minor inconvenience.