Editorial: University disregards student media

By The Beacon | April 12, 2012 9:00pm

(Ann Truong | The Beacon)


Last week, The Beacon and The Log staff were informed the newsroom and yearbook office will be moving locations next year to make room for new offices for four Campus Ministry staff members. Over 40 students work for the two publications.

Campus Ministry is forcing The Beacon into The Log's current space and relocating the University's yearbook into a conference room tucked away in the abyss of St. Mary's Student Center.

Campus Ministry asked for a minimum of 600 square feet for its four offices, but it will end up getting 1,100 square feet. Next year, The Beacon will have to squeeze 30 staff members into 400 square feet, while the conference room The Log is taking over is 250 square feet.

Campus Ministry, University Operations and the Office of Student Life made the decision to displace student media, according to Vice President for University Operations Jim Ravelli. Neither The Beacon nor The Log was included in the decision-making process. The Beacon and The Log were also not asked how this move would impact operations of the two student publications.

Though Campus Ministry plays an important role on campus, what they are doing is wrong.

This forced move will greatly affect the ability of student media to do its job. It also shows a lack of respect for students. We are not just an extracurricular activity. We provide a necessary and integral service to the University: We are the voice of students. Anything that hurts the ability of student media to be a student voice also hurts the entire student population.

When we heard we were being forced out of our spaces, we wondered why the administration deemed it necessary to give an already-in-use space to a staff less than a seventh of the size of The Beacon staff?

The newsroom, which sustains one of the largest staffs and spaces in St. Mary's, has played a vital role in the production of The Beacon over the past few decades. The space allows The Beacon to hold two private weekly meetings and Wednesday publication nights, in addition to providing a space for editors to edit, reporters to write articles, page designers to design, business and advertisement managers and circulation directors to conduct business and for the staff to come together to complete its common goal of producing a quality newspaper.

The Log is an iconic photographic keepsake for all students and staff. This year The Log has made a noticeable effort to be more of a presence on campus and is on track to complete the yearbook on time for the first time in recent years.

Not only will the eviction from the newsroom affect student voices, it will also have a negative impact on student academics. Next year, The Beacon will have to hold meetings in the lounge of St. Mary's - which will become a primary study space for students due to library renovations - because of the inability to fit all staff members in the new space. At a time when the Library and many student study rooms will be unavailable, taking away another student study space is unacceptable.

And knowing very well that study space will be tight the upcoming year, why did the administration decide to move Campus Ministry now?

There are currently available offices in the Chapel of Christ the Teacher that are being used to store the priests' liturgical garments.

We do not understand why Campus Ministry leadership considers this space to be unacceptable for use as offices when the famous architect Pietro Belluschi originally designed it for such use. The chapel is the heart and soul of Campus Ministry and they should be proud to inhabit such an exceptional space. The chapel was also recently renovated, making the space even more noteworthy.

Campus Ministry leadership doesn't want to use the available office space in the chapel because they consider it to be a sacred place, and students are paying the expense.

Furthermore, the administration is dishing out money to remodel The Beacon's current newsroom for Campus Ministry. The Beacon has dealt with leaky ceilings and broken windows for years now, some of which have broken on students, yet the administration has not stepped in to fix either problem, despite several attempts on behalf of Beacon staff members to call attention to these maintenance issues. With the University having to cut nearly $600,000 for student jobs next year, where is the administration scraping up these funds, especially when the chapel offices are available?

If Campus Ministry insists on taking over the newsroom, perhaps the University should expand St. Mary's in order to cater to all the needs of parties involved, including the spacial needs of students. After all, St. Mary's is the University's student center.

There are several solutions to this space issue that The Beacon has brainstormed since hearing of this decision. The University, for example, could build a small addition near the entrance with the wheelchair ramp. Another solution involves renovating the attic choir space or basement of St. Mary's, which both have enough space for four offices.

The University has forgotten whom it is here to serve, and it's time the administration stopped pushing student needs under the rug.

We strongly urge the administration to reconsider its decision and reopen the discussion to include The Beacon, The Log and the Office of Student Activities.