Letter to the Editor – “Why I’m no longer giving interviews to the Aquinian”

Dear Students,

I’m sure you’ve heard a lot this week about how the “STUSU hates the Aquinain” and vice versa. I’m here to say: that’s not true. This whole thing has certainly got out of hand, and at the root of it, there is certainly a strong emotional factor. Feelings have been hurt on both sides, and I’m quite certain that was never the intent of anyone involved. I don’t consider this to be a “fight”, I consider it to be a professional disagreement.

My issues are those that are outlined in the letter I wrote, and I feel that adequately covers my points. I consider Meredith my friend, and Liam to be a good guy. But that doesn’t factor into my opinion on their decision making or writing. I would hope they feel the same about me, and I don’t expect them to pull any punches when writing about the STUSU. However, I hope they keep in mind that at the end of the day, they work for the students too. The students pay directly into the AQ’s budget, and they are entitled to a quality paper in return.

There is certainly an issue of accountability with the Aquinian. Whereas the editors are accountable to a board that currently has only one of five positions filled, there is no body that can dismiss any of them. They have unchecked discretion, something any philosopher would tell you is a terrible idea.

After the elected representatives of the student body voted unanimously to ask for an apology and it was refused, I decided of my own accord that I will not no longer give interviews to the Aquinain. If an organization cannot be held accountable to its share and stakeholders, there is a clear problem. The same principle applies to the STUSU.

I have been asked if I feel it’s part of my job to give the Aquinian interviews, and the answer is that I feel I am responsible to make sure I am accountable to students. The elected representatives of students voted for an apology, and if students feel that was not in their interest then there are recall provisions that can be enacted. No such institutions exist for the AQ.

If at any point I feel this action hinders my ability to communicate with the people I work for, I will end it. But as long for as long the Aquinian is not working for students, I have no obligation to speak with them. However, for now my responsibility is to my council and to my constituents, and they have shown they do not believe the Aquinian is working in their best interest.

Respectfully yours,

John Hoben
President – St. Thomas Students’ Union


  1. It’s nice that nearly 5 years after I covered the STUSU for the AQ, nothing has changed. The arrogance of SRC members has never ceased to amaze me. These people think they have assumed some vitally important position in the grand scheme of how a university is run. The truth is, they have little to no power.

    As for the lack of accountability Mr. Hoben seems to feel exists at the AQ because only one position on the board of directors is filled, that is utter nonsense. For the first two years of my time at STU, there was no board. Yet, staff of the paper were held accountable. Some were even removed from their positions for serious breaches of journalistic ethics. To the rational reader, it should be clear that the only thing Ms. Gillis did wrong was include quotes that were from before an SRC meeting was called to order. In an ideal world, she should have taken that information and spoken to the appropriate SRC members at a later time for an ‘on the record’ interview.

    One of the most important roles of the media is to hold elected officiaals accountable. Mr. Hoben, despite your obvious distaste for how the SRC has been portrayed by the AQ, they have endeavoured to perform this duty to the best of their ability. And, quite frankly, the St. Thomas University Students’ Union has never given the AQ much cause to issue praise. The union finds itself involved in at least one major scandal on an annual basis. And it is usually self-inflicted. This time is no different.

    It’s a shame you have chosen to isolate yourself from the one forum where you could set the record straight. The media is not engaged in a witch hunt. They are trying to inform their readership about the activities of people they elected to represent their interests. You are not working in the best interests of your constituents, and that will remain the case until you end this foolish practice of denying the AQ access for any kind of interview. Bear in mind, the next time you want to inform the student body about an important initiative, more people read the AQ than attend SRC meetings or listen to SRC members speak in public.

  2. If this were to be a professional disagreement as you state, one would expect a certain amount of professionalism on Mr. Hobens part and the STUSU. Sadly, this appears to be lacking. I suppose when the facts do not support your case the best defense is to go on the offensive.

    If you consider Liam and Meredith to be your friends, I can only say God help your enemies.

    I fail to understand why Mr. Hoben and STU SU executive would decline to meet on the record with the AQ reporters. If their intention was to clarify statements, facts and generally lay the cards on the table, would this not have been a wonderful opportunity to set the record straight and be on the record. If the previous articles were so grossly inaccurate, what possible harm could come from an on the record meeting. It would seem that the scandal is less about the resignation of Ms Pozer, but the attempts of STUSU to coverup the reasons for the resignation. Furthermore it was Mr. Hoben et al failed attempt to orchestrate these events and put favourable spin on less than honourable behaviour.

    I would come to the conclusion that Mr.Hoben implies that the "AQ is not working for Students " because they are not shouting their praises of Mr. Hoben and the STUSU from all the rooftops. Will it be safe to assume the AQ is working for students when all the articles are more flattering? Who should be the arbiter of what is fair and balanced coverage? I believe that is best decided by your constituents and those that choose to read the AQ.

    May I kindly suggest a little less hubris Mr. Hoben and a lot more humility would be in order. In other words…GROW UP!!!


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