This is where I get mad. The 432, the Science Undergraduate Society’s official newspaper, is … euuugghh. The very idea that students are funding such a worthless, offensive, and generally craptastic rag is insane. This newspaper, apparently, used to be good. It used to be smart and hilarious, and enjoy more readership than the Ubyssey. Not that that’s exactly anything to be too proud of. For as long as I’ve read it though (about two years), the 432 has been an emblem of stupidity and needless tree-chopping – and this week it just about scraped bottom. Apart from the annoyance of its entering VFM without doing a shred of elections coverage, lets do an enumeration of this week’s journalistic offerings: Article about giving you dog a bath (…), Article about the city’s sex shops (whaa?), and to top things off with a flourish of offensive bad taste, an article about Sarah Naiman’s breasts (classy). This is not harmless fun – it’s offensive, student-fee-funded, useless crap. Though not everyone agrees, of course: according to the outgoing Director of Administration of SUS and AMS VP Academic elect Alex Lougheed, this issue represents an improvement in quality. “It’s pretty good this week, actually,” he said to me, without any redeeming hint of irony.

How about this radical thought: if you don’t have anything to write, don’t write anything at all? I even left out the “nice” from the kindergarten adage about keeping your mouth shut. There’s a balance between informative satire (think Colbert, or The Devil’s Advocate, for that matter) and pure farce. Most undergrad newspapers, including the Underground (which, to it’s credit, actually contains at least a couple laughs every other issue) seem to be publicly funded mediums for a few amateur comedians to fill space. Yuck.

It seems to be notoriously hard to get people to actually write for these things. The poor editors typically publish whatever they can get their hands on from a few nominally funny SUS councilors the night before press time. But how is this possible?? There are heaps of science students that must have something to say. Maybe a combined undergraduate newspaper from all the faculties would be more interesting and prone to publishing actual content? Maybe a hired position for editor and a committed volunteer staff appointed for a whole year would produce better results?

Anyway, just a few thoughts. It seems like I’ve been doing a ton of “media” stories lately, and I promise this is the last for a while. Scintillating topical posts about the Vancouver Quadra federal by-election, AMS elections 2.0 (including student court challenges), and other cool stuff are on the way. And it’s Science Week! Check out some of the events.


14 Comments so far

  1. Anonymous on January 29, 2008 3:55 am

    well, Maayan, don’t you know that’s why people want Nate in ,and not Alex. Look at his platform. He said he wants to revive the 432 but what happens now? It only got worse and the readership only drops faster than the US dollar…

  2. maayan kreitzman on January 29, 2008 4:00 am

    Nate? 432? revive?

    I’m confused. Nate is in Arts. He has nothing to do with the 432. They were both running for AMS VP Academic. Again nothing to do with the 432.

  3. Stephen McCarthy on January 29, 2008 4:19 am

    Dear Anonymous 7:55.

    To add to Maayan’s comment, the election is (probably) over. Please get over the fact that approximately 30 more people wanted Alex than Nate.

    Re: the article. Wow, never knew you had such a mad streak, Maayan. Though I tend to agree with the quality of the paper. About 6 hours of work went into the latest edition, and it shows.

  4. Reka on January 29, 2008 5:33 am

    Your toilet paper poll left off The Point!! Presumably funded by our Athletics and Recreation fee it provides hard-hitting news stories on… diet and exercise. Woohoo.

  5. Peter on January 29, 2008 6:00 am

    I’m also happy to see that the Cavalier isn’t listed. Actually, I’m surprised to see that it isn’t listed. In past years it has offered exactly the same content as the Underground and 432.

    Frankly, I’ll agree with you that all 3 papers (Underground, 432, Cavalier) are relics of the past and should not exist. They are a waste of paper and no one reads them. Once-upon-a-time when there was no internet, it must have been nice to enjoy some easy-access satire. Today, however, times have changed.

    Alas, institutions take years to die out, and odds are these papers will be around for a long while. Personally, without a seismic shift in the mentalities of the students running these papers, I don’t see a future for any of them.

    Further, I’ll you know that your solution does not work. I’ve tried for the last, oh say 10 months, to find interested people to write news-worth articles and opinion columns for the Cavalier. It’s been nearly impossible. Further, no matter what the paper says, I have not gotten a single feed-back email telling me where to shove it or agreeing with me. It has been most sad.

    All in all, it would seem that today’s undergraduate student is more likely to read Facebook threads or post to his blog than read his undergraduate newspaper or, heaven forbid, write for it.

    The undergraduate newspaper is dead. Long live the undergraduate newspaper.

  6. Maayan on January 29, 2008 6:24 am

    Steve, you haven’t known me long enough to realize that I’m a perpetually simmering cauldron of anger just below the boiling point, haaha. Actually, just when it comes to shitty print.

    It’s true Reka! I totally did forget The Point. They harsh need to reduce their circulation numbers.

    Maybe the undergrad newspaper is dead. I’m not sure though. I know that I still love print quite a bit. I think people like having something to read through between classes. Physical paper-lying-around-ness is great. Except when it’s a total waste. Maybe forum spaces and “participatory” (omigod, I just used a rodrigo-ism!)websites would work better. Sauder has some sort of faculty forum thing right? Do you think that’s a good replacement for printed undergrad newspapers?

  7. Jesse Ferreras on January 29, 2008 7:11 am

    Maayan, based on numerous conversations and reading your posts, you seem to develop an incredible level of frustration when other publications don’t meet your standards. Yes, the 432 is a tasteless rag, and for as long as I’ve been around (a LONG time) it always has been. But, well, that’s just what it is, now isn’t it?

    If you really want to avoid doing this media-on-media schtick (which doesn’t annoy me as much as it annoys you) you ought to try judging something on its own terms. A case in point – your criticisms of the Ubyssey. You seem to be under the impression that it’s the paper’s job to cover AMS stuff the way that CNN covers American politics.

    That’s, well, wrong. And it’s always going to disappoint you if you keep operating that way.

  8. Anonymous on January 29, 2008 8:08 am


    -Lacey Fishnets (esq.)

  9. Maayan on January 29, 2008 8:14 am

    Don’t make this about me Jesse. It’s not unreasonable to suppose that media that’s funded by students (just like any other service that’s funded by students)should be worth the money. Lame comedy, frankly, isn’t. And nobody has ever said that the Ubyssey exists to cover AMS (I certainly didn’t). It’s just that they do a pretty bad job whenever they try, and that’s frustrating. Of course, this post is about the 432 – not the ubyssey, which is totally worth my 5 bucks, even with its shortcomings.
    Is judging something “on its own terms” accepting the status quo? I’m just not sure what you mean by that. Imagine if the AMS food bank only gave out fruit rollups. Would you implore that we judge it on its own terms then?

  10. Gina Eom on January 29, 2008 1:50 pm

    Not to be too much of a blast from the past, but I do remember a certain SUS president (who shall remain unnamed) put a pitcher of beer on top of the 432, saying “Ah, the 432 at its best use…”

  11. Anonymous on January 30, 2008 6:05 am

    It was terrible the past two years due to sheer incompetence.

    The mere fact that this issue raised your ire is proof that it is better than it was before.

  12. Jacob Cosman on January 30, 2008 9:33 am

    Honestly, there is a lot of resistance to making the 432 at all related to Science and UBC issues – mostly coming from old Council members (some of whom are alumni now). This is a shame, because the satire isn’t all that funny, and never has been (and those who think there were some illusory glory days should read the old editions, because they are terrible).

    Ally was really interested in making the paper more relevant to Science students (discussion of study space, scholarships, et cetera) but unfortunately she had other issues at the time which really precluded any production of the paper – so in the end, the editorial team is basically identical to last year’s, and the year before.

    It wouldn’t even be that hard to throw in an article or two about NSERC USRAs or tutoring services or even upcoming social and cultural events on campus. As it is, people don’t even read the 432, so it exists in this strange vacuum with a few Science students feeling obliged to write unimpressive articles.

    That being said, please do write in with your complaints. They deserve to be heard, and more importantly, the 432 is effin’ desperate for material.

  13. Anonymous on January 30, 2008 11:22 pm

    I would disagree, Jacob; If you go back about 10 years, the satire was pretty funny. I came across an old issue and compared it to a recent one – it has really gone downhill.

    Perhaps it is time to make it about issues relevant to Science students, and downplay the humour end of things.

  14. Steel Rabbit on February 1, 2008 12:57 am

    I couldn’t agree more with what any of you said. I don’t even want to WRITE for the Underground let alone EDIT it! Elvis, Fucking, Christ Do you know what the AUS does to me?

    They beat me, that’s what!

    All I write is wastefull schlock that doesn’t deserve to wipe the asses that it no doubt does. I have no more soul, it was destroyed along with my will to live.

    Print Media Satire is DEAD! Deader than floppy discs and floppier than my balls! This is Web 2.0. Fuck! I don’t even know how to read letters unless they have a framerate. How do I write the Underground then? CHILDREN! They yell the words at me until their tiny, tiny, throats are raw. Raw with satire.

    In short, I hate myself, and Mark Twain. Fucker!

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