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OPINION
 

Senior Staff Editorial

Written by: Communicator StaffNovember 16, 2017

You holding this issue of The Communicator in your hands today is a miracle.

Production takes a lot of time and energy, and this month the students went through production without a functional newsroom.

After nearly 50 years in Walb 215, The Communicator was moved into a former storage room in the basement in order to make room for a food pantry. The room has been split into two offices, and we have been told that our room number is G042B, though our side and the side that houses the assistant director for international programs both say G042.

We knew that we were going to be forced to move, and we were somewhat mentally prepared to do so. Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Eric Norman, who is a non-voting member of our board, asked Board President Dan Vance to put the move on our July agenda and then did not show up to that board meeting. The topic was not discussed at the meeting because Norman was the only person with knowledge of the proposal. Publisher Kristan Seitz met with Norman personally to figure out what was going on, and she quickly realized two things: that the move wasn’t a proposal as much as it was a statement, and that our lease had expired. Vance and Seitz decided to contact the university and have a new lease made, and they had a new one signed the same day. This told them that the university did not realize The Communicator was supposed to move.

At our next board meeting, when Norman was presented with our new lease agreement, he asked why we would have signed a new lease if we already knew his intentions with our space. Our answer: He was not following proper procedure.

The board meeting ended with one of the other members pointing out that it was most important for members to advocate on behalf of The Communicator, not any other group or organization.

Though Norman originally said he wanted us out by Aug. 14, our new lease ensured that we would at least be given a proper 60-day notice. We received that notice Sept. 1.

During that time, we slowly packed our office supplies, took home some keepsakes and pared down. It’s amazing, being able to sift through such deep history. We have archives dating back to 1964, when we were the Student-Exponent; photos from when staff members used a small closet in Walb 215 as a black room; and random items such as an inflatable punching bag named Russell.

Our official 60 days was up Nov. 1. That’s when we found out our new space was not equipped with drops for our computers, which run critical design and payroll programs. It is also important to note that prior to Nov. 1, we were not sure when the room would be ready to move into.

We cannot thank enough members of Warehouse Operations, IT Services and others throughout campus for all of the advice, assistance and kind words they offered during the moving process. Everyone was confused with orders to move being requested and postponed over the months, but they really came together to sift through the confusion and get the job done. And once we had settled in, ITS workers continued to do their best to get drops in quickly. Nevertheless, the university itself essentially abandoned student-journalists and hindered their practice.

It might seem reasonable to postpone an issue or cut one from the print run in a situation such as this one. But The Communicator staff work with outside advertisers and put countless hours into planning, writing and editing articles that are timely.

As this letter is being written, staff members are redesigning each of the publication’s 12 pages — two hours before deadline — because they spent all of last week working on the pages in Studio M and the files will not open correctly on our computers.

We are hoping that this new room will eventually feel like the newsroom.

We are hoping that people will notice us, tucked around an out-of-the-way corner.

We are hoping that this isn’t the end for The Communicator, as we have had a drastic increase in students who want to hone their design, photography, writing and editing skills.

And we are hoping that you will connect with us. Stop in and check out our new space. Support The Communicator, and work with us to ensure your First Amendment rights won’t get locked away in a storage room.