104 Years and Counting: A Note from the Current Coordinating Editor
By: Charlotte Alden
Charlotte Alden is a fifth-year honours political science student and the Coordinating Editor of The Ubyssey. (Photo credit: Isabella Falsetti)
The Ubyssey has been around a long time. 104 years, in fact.
In that century, The Ubyssey has endured a pandemic, a world war, the Great Depression, multiple almost-world wars, a financial crisis and most recently, another pandemic. We even survived being locked out of our own office by the AMS in 1994 — so we mobilized students to establish our own student fee and become an independent publications society, as we exist today.
As UBC’s student newspaper, The Ubyssey has played an essential role in the shaping of UBC as an institution, and also in shaping generations of Canadian journalists. A long list of influential people have come out of The Ubyssey, from Pierre Burton and Allan Fotheringham, to the former editors who have sent in submissions for this project.
For me, the Coordinating Editor of The Ubyssey 104 years into our existence, this paper has been life-changing. I arrived in university fairly sure I wanted to be a journalist, but very unsure as to how to make that happen. The stellar editors I had in my first two years as a staff member drove me to stretch my reporting, take on bigger stories and run for editorial. Serving as news editor for two years — in the height of the pandemic, no less — was a test of endurance, and showed me that I was capable of writing breaking news pieces, doing longform investigations and training young journalists — all through a Zoom call from my bedroom. And being Coordinating Editor (our hippie collective version of an Editor-in-Chief) will leave me with management skills that will serve me well for the rest of my life.
All the people who have contributed to this section of this project come from different decades of The Ubyssey’s history, and they all faced unique challenges during their time as editors. Things have changed — The Ubyssey has always operated on unceded Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh land, a fact we have acknowledged more deeply in recent years as we work to decolonize our journalistic practices. But throughout the decades, these submissions show that while we have grown and changed as a paper, our key mission has remained the same: The Ubyssey serves to train a new generation of journalists; The Ubyssey aims to put equity issues on display, hold the powerful accountable and uplift marginalized voices; and The Ubyssey shows students that they have a voice, and can make real, meaningful change — even as scrappy university journalists.
In a time where Canadian newspapers seem to be closing one after the other, student newspapers have become more essential than ever. In Vancouver, The Ubyssey is one of the oldest papers still printing and distributing paper copies. The Vancouver Sun is only six years older than The Ubyssey, and other long-standing Vancouver publications like the Vancouver Courier have gone out of business.
While The Ubyssey has, throughout its history, had a strong presence in BC, The Ubyssey’s importance now, more than ever, is essential. We now are really the only newspaper with the resources to pay such close attention to the biggest university in the province, and have the unique perspective of being a publication that is by students, for students. As the influence of print news declines, I have faith The Ubyssey will stand the test of time.
The Ubyssey is and always has been a place to make friends, break stories, mess up, grow up and piss off people in positions of power. I don’t anticipate that will ever change.