The University of Regina Students’ Union is looking to make sweeping changes to its policies across the board.
The first on the chopping block: a controversial poster policy that operated under vague language, and made it unclear why some posters were blocked and some were not. URSU announced Jan. 14 that a new policy is now in place and will be more inclusive.
“One of the things that we noticed right away when we came in was that many of our policies and bylaws were out of date,” said Nathan Sgrazzutti, URSU president. “It quickly became apparent to us that one of the most out of date [policies] was the poster policy. The policy was broad. There were issues where we wouldn’t be able to support certain campus events because they didn’t fit within the old, outdated, policy.”
Under the old policy students hosting events in licensed establishments outside of The Owl were not allowed to post promotional material on URSU’s poster boards around campus. This created a conflict of interest: in many cases URSU could not support their students and the bar at the same time. URSU denied several poster applications in order to “protect The Owl” and ensure the bar turns a profit – last year, URSU had a $202,484 deficit at year end, $157,890 of that was from The Owl.
URSU’s new policy will change the game a bit. Campus clubs and President’s Advisory Committees can now advertise events held at licensed and unlicensed non-profit organizations all over the city, such as the Gay & Lesbian Community of Regina Nightclub. They can also advertise events held at for-profit organizations, but the number of posters is reduced and the club or society must pay a fee. Off-campus organizations can also attach posters, but require a fee in most instances.
“Our idea was that we needed to make it so that instead of this black and white thing we had where it was ‘either you’re for The Owl or against!’ We’ve changed it to reflect our understanding that there are a multitude of situations where we should be showing support,” Sgrazzutti said.
However, not all students are happy with the new arrangement. Dane Imrie, a second-year business student, runs a monthly comedy show at the Cultural Exchange called Pass The Hat. Imrie’s show consists of amateur comics, several of whom are U of R students, who take turns trying out short comedy routines. Imrie advertised his events on URSU poster boards until November, when he was told he could no longer do so.
“Our idea was that we needed to make it so that instead of this black and white thing we had where it was ‘either you’re for The Owl or against!’ We’ve changed it to reflect our understanding that there are a multitude of situations where we should be showing support.” -Nathan Sgrazzutti
The old poster policy created a dilemma – while URSU is mandated to support Imrie, as a U of R student, the Exchange was technically considered in competition with The Owl, a venue that requires URSU’s protection.
Imrie waited months for the new changes in policy to take place, and while he appreciates the effort made to resolve past poster dilemmas, the new changes still leave Pass The Hat in the dark. The Exchange is a licensed non-profit organization, and Imrie must pay $10 per poster to advertise his event.
“I think, based on what URSU’s needs are, that they are basically saying that they don’t want bars or nightclubs that compete directly with The Owl to put posters up,” he said. “My venue is classified as a theatre, and honestly, it isn’t in competition with The Owl in any way. We do sell booze, but so does every place in this city. I don’t get enough value off one poster to pay 10 bucks for it.”
Photo by Dietrich Neu