On Student Publications

As an editor for The College Voice, I am often frustrated to hear students complain about not having an outlet to voice their frustrations or criticisms other than ConnCollConfessional, which we all know creates more problems than it solves. Students seem to forget (or perhaps are simply apathetic to the fact) that the student newspaper is a platform that can be used by any student to write about any topic about which they feel passionate or moved to write — whether that be an article praising a certain department, club or school initiative or whether it be a critique of a new college policy or the call for more shared governance between students and administration. The latter, as we know, has been on the minds of many students post-Fishbowlgate. And while many did use the newspaper then to express concern and outrage, it seems that since the hype has fizzled out, students have forgotten to use us as a resource to talk about other issues.

During one class discussion a few weeks ago, a classmate used the word “disempowered” to describe how many students on this campus feel when it comes to administrative decisions. In last week’s article “Whitewashing Tradition,” Liz de Lise ’13 lamented the crumbling social scene and “rapid cultural shift” that is underway at Conn. Her last two lines in particular resonated with me: “The students are poised and ready. It takes two to tango, Admins.” The student body is ready for change and willing to work with the administration to make these changes — to reach compromises and to have input when it comes to certain decisions and initiatives. But what de Lise has done that most others have not is make her voice heard in a constructive and far-reaching way.

One great thing about being an independent, student-run publication is that we, the students, have the ultimate control over what we write and what we publish. That means we have the power to critique our superiors and to suggest solutions to problems that we perceive. That doesn’t mean that we can abuse that power and insult or write falsities about any person, department or organization. We are journalists, and as such, we have certain moral and ethical obligations to ourselves and to our readers. But as long as we meet those standards, we have the freedom to write about what we want every week.

When I say that the paper is “student-run,” that doesn’t just mean the editorial staff. While, yes, we do have the final say on what we publish, we are an inclusive club, and we welcome — nay, encourage — any student to write for us. It doesn’t matter if you were the Editor-in-Chief of your high school newspaper or if this is your first time ever writing an article. If you have something you want to say, say it. Even if you feel that you have no agency or power or any outlet with which to express your concerns, you do. It’s black and white and is sometimes used to clean up spills in Harris. But The College Voice is not a Sham Wow (nor does Vince Offer endorse us nor would we want him to). It’s a student publication, and as students at Connecticut College, we all have the power to express our ideas and opinions, and to create a dialogue among students, faculty, staff, the administration and even alumni. All we have to do is write.

Maybe you’ve seen the posters and ads inviting you to check out The College Voice or maybe on a Saturday night, I’ve personally tried to coax you into joining the newspaper by bribing you with free pizza. (That has actually worked, for the record.) But if you absolutely detest writing or you’d rather spray-paint your feelings on the walls of the Tunnel, that’s okay, too. My only goal is to offer a solution to anyone who feels voiceless and powerless on this campus. You should never feel like your opinions don’t matter; they do, and we’d like to hear them.

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