Letter of apology from Envision UVic slate

Letters Opinions

Dear Martlet,

We would like to sincerely apologize for the statement made regarding the Martlet’s financial transparency within the original platform published by we of the Envision slate.

The original statement reads:

“Another is [sic] issue is that many organizations who receive student fees don’t publicly disclose any financial documents in any similar as [sic] to the standard of the UVSS. An example would be lack of financial disclosure by the Martlet, whose most recent financial documents date back to 2014, which is an organization that receives over $140,000 in student fees a year. Envision UVic will work with these groups to ensure as much transparency as possible.” pg 7 of the original Envision UVic Platform.

The entire Envision slate understands now the full implications and potential damage our statement could, and may have had on the credibility and the legal standings of the Martlet. Unfortunately, we are not able to address the cached versions of our web page which is now no longer available online. It is our hope that by publicly addressing the errors within our platform pertaining to the Martlet, in a form that is easily accessible to public parties, we will be able to fully mitigate any potential damages.

To address the issue of public access to Envision’s retractions of their statements regarding the Martlet’s financial obligations, we agree to a publication of this apology through the Martlet, as well as through the UVSS website, so it may be easily accessible and available to the public on an ongoing basis.

It was not our intention to leave a direct statement about the Martlet open to misinterpretation of any kind, especially where there is high potential to damage the Martlet’s standing under the BC Societies Act, and within the student body. We understand that this statement could have led to damaging the reputation of the Martlet, which is the only student newspaper at UVic and is one of the organizations tasked with holding the UVSS and UVic to account. We are sincerely sorry for the implications of our statement. We now understand that under the BC Societies Act, the Martlet is required by law to meet certain financial reporting standards. Under no circumstance do we of the Envision slate desire to put the Martlet at risk by implying in any way that their financial disclosure does not meet these standards for either financial accessibility or disclosure.

As well, as a slate that ran on increasing transparency and accountability, it is not our desire to undermine one of the most important methods of checks and balances in place within the UVSS. Envision is fully willing to publicly take responsibility for the lack of clarity in our statement, not only to address the legal discrepancies in the intended meaning in our statement, but also because we believe that the Martlet holding us to account is critical to ensuring students’ voices are heard within the democratic process, especially voices of critique and criticism of our actions.

We now understand that the Martlet provides to the UVSS its financial documents, in a timely manner, as part of its lease agreement and thus meets all financial requirements. Furthermore, we understand now that the Martlet is under no legal obligation of any kind to do anything further than this, as under its Operational Agreement, the UVSS Board would have, and has, neither the authority or right to dictate the contents of the Martlet’s website, as it is a separately incorporated entity from the UVSS. We would like to publicly reiterate, that under the BC Societies Act, Issuance of Financial Statements, Section 38 pertaining to rules regarding how and when a society is allowed to publicly disseminate its financial information, the Martlet fulfills all legal obligations for financial disclosure, accountability, and transparency.

Additionally, we now understand that any complaints regarding the accessibility of these documents to the student body should have been directed toward the previous UVSS Board. The Martlet, in having fulfilled their financial responsibilities, is not responsible for their dissemination to the student body.

To address the ignorance behind the statements made about the Martlet within the Envision platform, the Envision slate pledges to take several training sessions, which address working with non-profit organizations and will ensure that we have the knowledge to facilitate positive and respectful working relations with the Martlet, the Martlet staff, and their board. We commit to reporting to the Martlet the level of training participated in by each member of the Envision slate, to be publically reported if so desired by the Martlet. Additionally, we will work to include a variant of this training for those participating within UVSS elections in the future.

Further, we invite the Martlet to participate in discussions mediated by a Uvic Ombudsperson, or other such forms of accessible mediated discussions, in order to discuss the state of relationships between the two organizations and facilitate respectful and positive working relationships going forward.

We are determined to avoid this situation, or any variance of this situation, in the future. All members of Envision UVic are committed to building healthy and productive working relationships with the Martlet, the Martlet staff, and their board. As journalists, the Martlet clearly understands the importance of being clear and succinct in your writing and unfortunately this was a characteristic that our platform lacked. For this, and the resulting lack of clarity within our platform, we sincerely apologize to both the Martlet and our student body.

We sincerely regret that a sufficient apology and retraction was not immediately issued for the original statement issued by the Envision slate in our platform. We regret that we did not immediately realize the implications for the Martlet under the BC Societies Act and, in error, instead put effort toward contextualizing our statement, as this did not remedy the initial implications of the statement.

Over the course of the campaign, and in the days preceding, many edits were made to the platform to fix typos and other mistakes. The Envision slate previously was not acquainted with the journalistic standards for clarifying information when changes are made, and thus did not make edits clear to the public in the appropriate manner. We sincerely apologize for failing to point out all clarifications we made, immediately, on our website and social media accounts.

We hope that our apology, public clarifications of previous statements, and our endeavours to facilitate reparations, can be accepted. We will do everything possible, in good faith, to repair our relationship with the Martlet, its staff, and their board. We look forward to working with the Martlet in the future and maintaining a healthy and respectful working relationship with them. The press is charged with holding people, especially holding elected officials accountable. We respect and appreciate the part the Martlet plays in upholding the democratic values of our school and student society, and would never willfully seek to remove this voice of accountability from our student body.

Sincerely, Envision UVic

Envision UVic 

(Pierre-Paul Angelblazer, Tyler Arnold, Gulseerat Boparai, Noor Chasib, Jordan Gilson, Adrienne Graham, Eric Jakubowski, Ainsley Kerr, Isabella Lee, Jonathan Loring, Jasmine Pathak, David Stevanovic, Curtis Whittla, Julia Witte, Mary Wood, Haichuan Zhang)