Student government evicts campus paper

CANADA -- The Canadian equivalent to First Amendment rights for the student media took a blow in October when a judge decided in favor of a Montreal student government association that locked a university student newspaper out of its offices.

The McGill University Student Society, a student government body, changed the locks on the office doors of The McGill Daily because it said the newspaper's lease had expired.

The lease agreement was entrusted to the student society by the university in the form of a student union in the early 1990s, and the student society sublet The Daily's office space to the paper until 1994 when the written lease expired. Every year since then the lease was extended, allowing the paper to stay. The Daily has occupied the space for more than 30 years.

In a June 1 letter to The Daily, the student society said the lease expired the day before and ordered the staff to vacate its offices. After several failed meetings and negotiations, the student society changed the locks on the doors to The Daily's offices.

"To view this case simply as a landlord/tenant problem is to misunderstand the case," said Michael Bergman, the attorney who represented The McGill Daily. "The student government has abused whatever rights it has to cause or provoke the end of the lease."

The judge ordered The Daily to vacate its offices by Oct. 21, but the student society and the paper reached an agreement before then. The Daily signed a three-year lease for a smaller space and a 40 to 50 percent increase in rent, according to Bergman.

reports, Winter 2000-01