We’ve got you covered—for now

By Editorial Board

Columbia’s motto is “Esse Quam Videri,”which translates as “to be, rather than to seem.” It is time to be a college that cares about its students rather than merely seem like a college that cares about its students.

This sentiment has spurred the staff of The Columbia Chronicle to speak out about the massive budget cuts it will face amid the maelstrom of change the college will experience in the next academic year.

If the cuts continue as planned, The Columbia Chronicle will lose 10 staff members in the 2015–2016 academic year—amounting to a 25 percent reduction. These cuts are a result of the administration’s decision to withhold necessary funding for one of the college’s top student-run programs. 

Though Chicago’s minimum wage rises to $10 an hour in July, the college has decided not to expand its student worker budget accordingly even though the previous administration accommodated the last hike. This refusal to provide sufficient funding forces departments and advisors to make unnecessarily tough calls when it comes to paying student employees fairly.

Virtually all of The Chronicle’s 40 staff members are paid as student workers. Although the loss of 10 employees may not seem all that critical, each one of our staff members is fundamental to the production of the college’s newspaper. This type of financial hit will drastically alter the newspaper that the college community receives every Monday.

Desks, sections, pages and features will shrink by a quarter or disappear entirely. With the elimination of positions, the quality of reporting, editing and design will be weakened, harming a newspaper that has fought tirelessly for respect and recognition. 

The administration has taken pride in the efforts it has made with the new budget and Strategic Plan, but criticism and tempers are now flaring in response to the administration’s perceived lack of regard for students and faculty.

Administrators have made attempts to clarify confusion and defuse the warranted anger that has grown within the college community by sending out convoluted emails that offer no answers to any of the questions the plan has raised.

The plan and the actions already taken by the administration are indicative of an inability to see beyond the monetary value of Columbia’s students and faculty—both of whom have proven themselves time and again to be more than just a line item. 

Though President and CEO Kwang Wu-Kim and Senior Vice President and Provost Stan Wearden have tried to placate the growing concerns of the college, it feels more and more that proving one’s worth—whether you are a student, faculty or staff member—is the only way to be acknowledged or heard. If this is the case, then The Chronicle staff will oblige. 

The administration’s Strategic Plan cites six specific goals. The plan calls for workforce reductions and reallocation of resources, but why would the administration actively punish an on-campus publication run by students—a publication that has won hundreds of respected and renowned awards—when that publication already meets five of the Strategic Plan’s six goals?

Every week The Chronicle staff epitomizes “Student Success,” demonstrates “A 21st Century Curriculum,” exudes “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,” participates in “Community Engagement” and aids in “Optimizing Enrollment.” 

Furthermore, if the college is truly aiming to achieve the sixth goal of the Strategic Plan—“Aligning Resources with Goals”—funding for The Columbia Chronicle and the college’s many equally impressive student-run programs should be increasing rather than being cut or not adjusted for wage hikes.

The Chronicle is not alone in the reduction of its workers, resources and billable hours. Student workers in every department of the college will be affected by the decision not to meet the demands of the city’s new wage hikes. From the students who work the TV Cage to the students who run the printing labs, it is inevitable that hours will be decreased and workers will be cut. It is impossible to know how many of them will be forced to withdraw because of loss of income.

Cuts to The Chronicle’s staff may be inescapable—and The Chronicle understands the necessity to balance the budget—but the large impact of these cuts will be felt deeply within the college community because The Columbia Chronicle is more than just a newspaper. 

It is a tool of recruitment. Students choose to come to Columbia when they learn that the newspaper was named the nation’s number one non-daily student-run college newspaper in 2013 by the Society of Professional Journalists. The hands-on, in-depth experience that the Chronicle has to offer is unmatched. The Chronicle helps students find work in their respective fields before they even have a diploma in their hands. From graphic designers to advertising and marketing consultants to journalists and photographers, those who work at The Chronicle leave the college with unparalleled experience.

It is a public face of the college. Issues of The Chronicle are dropped off at hundreds of locations across the city. The Chronicle essentially acts as free advertisement for an administration struggling to bring in new students—cutting the paper’s operations by a quarter would seem to be in direct opposition to that goal.

The newspaper and its website offer opportunities to disseminate pertinent information. The Chronicle is a vital source of information for a college community, mostly students, who would otherwise remain in the dark. Students deserve to know what is going on around them, particularly because the college experience they thought they were paying for will soon be drastically altered.

The Columbia Chronicle is the voice of the students and faculty. We provide an outlet for those whose voices are heard less often than those of the administration. The Columbia Chronicle promotes discussion, debate and collaboration among students and faculty across departments—processes that are critical to the growth and progress of the college.

The Columbia Chronicle also showcases the many successes of the college’s alumni. For an administration that has struggled to maintain any relationships with its successful alumni, axing the jobs of those who reach out to and connect with alumni every week is irresponsible. 

Additionally, limiting opportunities for current students to showcase the skills and talents they are honing in their classes—which are also being put on the chopping block—is evidence of a complete disconnect between faculty

and students.

For the administration to neuter The Columbia Chronicle by diminishing its ranks and resources is to demonstrate a resounding disrespect for the past, present and future of the college because The Columbia Chronicle is the past, present and future of the college. We are Columbia College Chicago.

We are the students whose classes are being cut. We are the students whose resources are disappearing. We are the students whose faculty and staff are either being paid lump sums to leave the college or are not even being asked to return. We are the students who know that our worth cannot and should not be measured by dollars. 

If the goals of the Strategic Plan are so essential to the college, the administration must champion student-run programs rather than punish them. Becoming involved in and actually examining the average day of Columbia students—especially those who work on campus—is a step the administration must take before gutting programs that truly benefit students.

Thus The Columbia Chronicle formally invites any and all administrators to our April 24 Friday Production Day so that we may demonstrate how essential each individual is to our operation. We hope they will accept our invitation so that they may truly comprehend how cuts will devastate the newspaper that has become an integral part of the college community, a college community that will only suffer if the administration continues to discount its worth.

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