Radio station allowed on campus again

Radio Malaspina Society returned to Vancouver Island University's Nanaimo campus Thursday.

Stephanie Davies

Stephanie Davies

Radio Malaspina Society returned to Vancouver Island University’s Nanaimo campus Thursday.

The university banned the society from accessing the campus for one year after the group hosted a Halloween party last year that officials said included “unacceptable behaviour”, such as illegal alcohol and drug use, disrespect toward VIU security and trespassing in closed-off areas.

The society, which operates CHLY 101.7 FM, was concerned that since the organization broadcasts off-campus, the ban would jeopardize the society’s licence to broadcast with the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission.

The society’s bylaws require it to have 60 per cent student representation on the board of directors and with limited access to students, the group was worried it would not be able to fulfill this requirement.

But after talks this summer, the university lifted the ban as of Sept. 1, said Dylan Perry, CHLY program manager.

“The general feeling I got was to move forward,” he said. “Basically they just made sure we understood that they have rules and policies that need to be followed.”

The society’s first official appearance back on campus was at the Frosh outdoor concert event hosted by the students’ union.

As for the station’s worries that student participation would drop off without access to students, Perry said since news of the ban hit the media last winter, about 10 new student volunteers stepped forward and several others joined the board.

“That whole thing almost had a benefit because it raised our profile,” he said.

In a referendum last spring, students also voted in favour of raising student fees paid to the society by about 25 cents per month for the next three years, Perry added, which equals roughly $40,000 in additional revenue by the third year.

All VIU students belong to the society and monthly fees are collected by the students’ union.

The extra revenue will be a huge help for the station, as it has struggled to run the operation on $70,000 – $20,000 from student fees and $50,000 from pledge drives – for the past several years, Perry said.

The long-term vision is to run two studios, possibly one on campus, he added.

In other good news, the society finally saved enough money to buy a backup radio transmitter so that the main transmitter, which was running at only half power for the past two years, can be sent for repairs without the station going off-air for a month, he added.

Ric Kelm, the VIU’s executive director of infrastructure/ancillary services, said university officials are happy to have the society on campus as long as they follow the institution’s policies and procedures.

“It adds to the overall VIU experience, which is important,” he said.