The biggest Martlet news stories from summer 2020

Lifestyle Sports | Lifestyle

COVID-19, housing challenges, and a racial justice reckoning highlighted an unprecedented summer news cycle

Top stories of Summer 2020 Martlet
Graphic by Darian Lee

In a summer like no other, the Martlet’s team of student journalists continued to cover stories that matter to students. 

Reminiscing on the summer, it seems like a decade ago that UVic decided to stop teaching in-person classes. Since then, our student community has never been more dispersed. And there has been no shortage of news. From the outset and through numerous angles, we’ve covered the ways this pandemic is impacting UVic students and exasperating inequalities in our society. Throughout the rest of the summer, we covered the waves the Black Lives Matter movement made on campus and in Victoria.

Needless to say, this summer has been packed with news and our journalists have been working hard to make sure our campus community stays informed. 

Here’s five of our biggest stories from this unprecedented summer. 

Students navigated unemployment and government supports

For many students, it was a summer of financial stress and acronyms, from Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), and the scandal-ridden Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG). Our articles led students through navigating these complicated government support programs. 

student thinks of CSSG, CERB
Graphic by Darian Lee

Alec Lazenby’s explainer on the CESB was our most read article of the summer and the second most popular article of 2020. Coming in a close second for the summer, our investigative dig into the CSSG asked what happened to the thousands of volunteer placements the CSSG promised. Lazenby also authored this piece, in collaboration with myself. 

Black Lives Matter 

The biggest event of the summer was the Black Lives Matter protest at Centennial Square. Michael John Lo went to the protest and spoke with the three UVic students behind the event. In the months that followed, the local and provincial governments made changes around policing — or at least tried to. Alec Lazenby did a full rundown in this long-form news piece.

Three Black Lives Matter organizers
Photo by Michael John Lo

Soon, students on campus began calling on the university to do better. In July, a group of theatre alumni spoke up about the racism they experienced while at UVic’s Phoenix Theatre. For this article, Dorothy Poon interviewed Rahat Saini about her racialized experiences in the acting program. Saini and other alumni got in a conversation with the department chair about their demands and penned a letter that was signed by over 200 alumni and students.

Students grapple with uncertain housing conditions

When in-class instruction was abruptly halted in March, many students simply packed up and left Victoria. Residence students were given additional money to move out sooner, while many students left their shared houses or apartments, and leases, behind. 

The August feature on student housing highlighted Victoria’s housing crisis from a student angle. It was a collaborative effort with a blend of Dorothy Poon’s researched statistics, Michael John Lo’s residence life insights, and Josh Kozelj’s thoughtful interview of a student facing uncertain housing prospects. 

Treatment of Victoria’s street community causes criticism from camp residents and activists 

Shea Smith, a member of Victoria's street community, stands with his dog in front of a tarp that reads "stand fast"
Photo by Michael John Lo.

As COVID-19 measures set in, the city sought to dismantle the street community’s encampments. People were moved to hotels or other parks, such as Beacon Hill Park.  Lazenby and Lo co-wrote a longform article about the initial response, and Lazenby continued to follow the issue throughout the summer. This issue is certainly unresolved and ongoing, so we fully expect to continue following how COVID-19 is impacting the street community in the fall. 

As Editor-in-Chief, I’m so proud of the work we’ve done this summer. This list is just a small portion of the 100 articles we published this summer. If you like what you read, keep following us for more deep dives, quirky humour pieces, and hot takes throughout the year. 

As of September of 2020, the Martlet publishes 2 500 newspaper copies on campus and throughout Victoria every two weeks. You can also subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram