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ASFA to discuss future working relationship with The Link

by Nelly Sérandour-Amar February 11, 2017
ASFA to discuss future working relationship with The Link

The team plans to meet with the student newspaper to discuss recent media ban

During the Arts and Science Federation of Association (ASFA) monthly meeting on Feb. 9, the council decided they would be meeting with The Link to discuss a future working relationship with the student newspaper. ASFA also formally apologized to their membership for the method they used to release their initial statement to cut ties with The Link.

On Monday, Feb. 6, ASFA published an open letter on their Facebook page announcing that the ASFA executive team would refrain from commenting on or engaging with The Link until the newspaper published a public apology or until the end of their mandate. The reasons listed were recording individuals without consent, having a biased agenda, misconstruing information and disregard to certain individuals’ mental and physical health.

The letter was published under the entire ASFA executive team, however, councilors of the Member Associations were not aware of the decision before it was made public. The Link was also unaware that ASFA was going to publish a letter, nor were they consulted about it beforehand, according to the editor-in-chief, Jonathan Caragay-Cook.

Agunik Mamikonyan, ASFA’s vice president of external affairs and sustainability told The Concordian why the executive decided to publish the letter as fast as they could. She said if The Link would continuously have to put disclaimers on articles about not receiving comment from ASFA, it would look untransparent on the association’s part. Therefore, a public statement from ASFA themselves explaining why they refuse to provide comment was best, she said. “If [on a The Link article] it says that the ASFA executive does not want to comment on something, it looks bad on us. It says that we are hiding something,” said Mamikonyan.

“In the past couple of months, we’ve been experiencing a lot of bias towards us, in specific from The Link,” said Mamikonyan.“I don’t want to speak [of] the whole newspaper because there are great writers and great photographers, but there are some individuals in there who make it hard for the ASFA team to function at its best.”

According to some of the councilors, The Link‘s biggest transgressions occurred when when a reporter recorded a Task Force meeting on racism, sexism and sexuality, even though some of the attendees didn’t feel comfortable being recorded, or didn’t know they were being recorded. According to Andrea Karsznai, president of ASFA, the reporter from The Link did not ask for consent from the participants at the meeting. However, Caragay-Cook told The Concordian that they do have audio proof of their reporter announcing himself at this particular meeting.

Some councilors were not exactly content with how ASFA handled the situation. “You can have your opinion on The Link, but you shouldn’t release this letter under the ASFA banner,” said Veronika Rydzewski, VP Internal for the Political Science Student Association (PSSA). She believes the executive team should not be allowed to publish this kind of letter on behalf of all of ASFA—she said it was unethical and that The Link deserves an apology.

Another councilor, Paolo Drago, VP Internal of the Concordia Undergraduate Psychology Association, said both ASFA and The Link bring something positive to students. “ASFA puts on great outings and great events, but The Link reporters have a job to do and that’s to report on ASFA, and students need that too,” Drago said.

During the meeting, the ASFA council came up with a motion, which passed as a vote. It stated, “The ASFA executive apologizes for the method that they chose to release their statement to their membership and will provide a full public statement about what led to their decision in the upcoming week.” The second part of the motion stated, “That the ASFA releases a statement on its platforms stating that it will seek out The Link to have a meeting to discuss a future working relationship between The Link and the ASFA executive.”

At the end of the meeting, Caragay-Cook told The Concordian he thinks the issue will soon be resolved. “I’m happy that the executive took this meeting, and hopefully we will meet soon,” he said. “Regardless, we were going to continue to report on ASFA—The Link­ has reported on ASFA for as long as the association has existed.”

Mamikonyan was also content with how the issue was discussed during the meeting. “I am happy that all councilors voiced their opinion—it says a lot about how strong of a team we are,” she said.

ASFA will be releasing a statement in the upcoming week with more details about their initial decision regarding The Link.

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