by Ivah Gallagher, Editor, The Quill
A university in full-swing is a sight to behold. Students bustle between classes with armloads of books. Some sit and chat with friends while others find a nice quiet corner to read and study. Between jobs, course work, and social lives, university students find themselves extremely busy. Sadly, few know about the inner workings of their university, and even fewer seem to care. That is, until something comes up within the university that directly affects their day-to-day life. (University students dislike anything that disrupts their routine or forces them to cough up more money for an already expensive education.) When this happens, students need a medium that allows them to both keep abreast of university news and a forum to voice their concerns, complaints, and feelings.
Enter the student media.
Most often in the form of a newspaper (although radio, television, and Internet have become more common mediums on campuses in recent years), student media is an important part of campus life and student well-being. Not only does it provide a source of news ranging from administration and funding issues to sports scores and club announcements, but the student media also provides a forum for the exchange of ideas. The benefit of this form of media is two fold: when students are well-informed, they are better able to exchange well-informed ideas. This goes hand-in-hand with the original purpose of university.
In an era where information is as valuable as gold, student journalists can be seen as the miners. The average university student neither has the time nor the energy to attend every student union or board of governors meeting. Those involved in student media simply do the foot work for those that are too busy to do it themselves. It is up to them to mine the information, sift out the uninteresting, craft it into a concise and easily understood form, and finally, to disseminate this precious and refined information to the student population.
Aside from the benefits of a creating a well-informed and opinionated student body, the student media also has another purpose. As a watchdog, the media keeps an eye on the various governing bodies within a university. Thick with bureaucracy and politics as any institution, a university is a mini-government within itself. Without critics and watchers of said government, the students won't know what is going on, and the governing bodies won't know which of their decisions are popular with students until it is too late.
To understand the importance of student media, one must realize what would happen without it. Several problems arise in its absence. First, students who are not well-informed can become very apathetic towards the inner workings of university government. This government (which can easily affect a student's day-to-day life) then takes on a faceless and ambiguous visage in the eyes of students; students who think that they can't affect change within the university. The second problem occurs when rumor mills replace factual news as the basis for student opinion. It goes without saying that this is extremely dangerous. Finally, with the removal of the student media, the exchange of student ideas is diminished. University students have a very unique voice, lying somewhere between the young and foolish, and the old and wise. Losing this diminishes the entire university experience.
In the end, the best way to combat apathy (probably the biggest problem at universities) is to convince students that they can change things for the better within their own university. By using student media to keep them well-informed and open to the ideas of others, students can truly live the university experience.