Fifteen years ago this month, the very first edition of this publication arrived in Belfield. Its purpose was to present an independent view on the news and current affairs of UCD and the wider world. This newspaper was, and is, in the lucky position of being financially backed by UCD Students’ Union – and therefore by you, our readers – while still retaining full editorial independence.

The idea of editorial independence is perhaps an intangible one for those outside the media world. To us, however, it is one of vast import. It preserves our right to publish articles which can defy the established governance; it preserves our right to present you with an alternate view to that of University officials; and it preserves our right to have final say over these pages.

For you, it means that the news you read and the views you are presented are in no way influenced or interfered with by outside bodies, elected or otherwise. For you, it means that the opinions expressed are those of students, written by students and presented for students. For you, it means the right to reproach, the right to refute and the right to be heard.

In the recent months, the editorial independence of this publication has been impinged upon. Attempts to subvert the established course of this newspaper have resulted in greater Students’ Union influence over the staffing process, and thereby the autonomy of The University Observer.

Although the existence of an editorially-independent newspaper is constitutionally enshrined, its identity, size, format and staff appointment procedures are not. With two of the three members of staff of The University Observer now directly employed by the Students’ Union President, censorship has taken a step forward: a step that could lead to the disappearance of this publication in its current format on the whim of one individual; a step that lends more weight than should be afforded to threats of withdrawn funding.

Over the coming months we will seek to rectify the conditions that have allowed a shadow of imposition fall over this newspaper. We ask you for your support; we ask you for your help. We may even have ask you to stand up and be counted on our behalf. Whether you agree with what you read or not, whether you say ‘hot’ when we say ‘not’, or whether you care or not, you must always have the freedom to choose – and you must always have the freedom to express.

On your behalf, we will continue to provide honest, impartial and educational information about this university. On your behalf, we can be threatened, but not silenced.