At Lewis & Clark, students get charged a lot in fees tacked onto tuition—this is no secret. One of those sneaky little fees is an opt-out fee of $20 a semester called the Student Media Fee that funds student media groups like annual publications, (Pause.), the radio station (KPH) and us here at The Mossy Log. But for a variety of reasons, that media fee has yielded a far smaller budget than years past. For student media, this poses a huge problem.
LC is too often derided for lack of student engagement and an apathetic student population. This can ring true sometimes, but we still have a vibrant campus community with engaged and bright students, many of whom enthusiastically participate in their chosen ways. Every group on campus thinks of itself as important, and they should! We are a mosaic of student groups, clubs, teams, projects and organizations, where every tile contributes to the colorful picture of our school. I may be a cynic in many respects, yet the earnestness of each event never fails to be touching to me. In the case of student media groups, I find this to be especially true.
Allow me to explain what goes into being in a student media group. As an editor at The Mossy Log, I spend many hours out of my week doing difficult, creative work editing, writing, planning and designing in a wholly student-led environment. While I adore our faculty advisor, I was recruited, trained and guided by students. Under their leadership, I have learned new skills and grown into my own leadership position of section editor. Our commitment to the publication we joined is also a commitment to each other as students, and one to which we hold each other accountable.
The commitment is not negligible. We have leadership and general contributor meetings every week. We spend hours of our free time researching, interviewing, writing, editing, sending emails, taking photos and much more. Laying out our paper is an all-night event—once every other week we spend our entire Wednesday evening well into the wee hours of the morning on Adobe InDesign and Photoshop. We then distribute and table for our paper every other Friday.
These commitments are done for little recognition or pay. The Mossy Log was incredibly fortunate to be ranked the #21 student newspaper in the country by the Princeton Review, but we do our work with no expectation of such accolades. And when it comes to pay, we are certainly lucky to receive any form of stipend, but we do far more work day-in and day-out than we are compensated for, as I am sure every student involved in an organization feels.
The Mossy Log is hardly the only student media group on this campus. We are joined by the radio station (KPH) and seven annual student publications. These groups work exceptionally hard on their chosen projects, and in the case of annual publications (Palatine Hill Review, Synergia, (Pause.), artEXPO, Living Mosaic, Polyglot and The Meridian), they do so for no stipend. They are driven, passionate students who make our school better, and they ought to be commended and compensated for their work.
It would be completely inaccurate to say that students participate in student media for pay. But monetary recognition helps motivate the hours of work and expertise required to be involved in these organizations. Student media develops expertise in media production, organizational participation, communication and various marketable softwares. There is a simple way to increase or start offering student compensation.
The Student Media Fee should no longer be an opt-out fee. It poses no great financial imposition in the grand scheme of costs at this school, yet any student, regardless of payment status, is allowed to consume any student media they choose and participate in it. While I certainly have no illusion that I do what I do only for those who pay, I still ask that if there is such a small way to support myself and my fellow media participants that it be done.
A common complaint is that our student body does not show up and show out for itself, supporting campus events, but this has always struck me as unfair. As college students who are flexing our independence and laboring under the weight of numerous expectations and responsibilities, I believe that LC student groups still draw keen, engaged and passionate students. As such, we ALL deserve to be funded and paid.
Even if my call is not heard, and the administration does not make the fee compulsory, I ask anyone who reads this to make sure you pay your media fee next semester. Our budgets have been slashed, and we want to keep doing what we are doing, but it is getting hard. Outside of the Mossy Log, students are not yet being paid who deserve to be. Consider supporting them even if you never again read a publication or tune into KPH. $40 may not be much to you when paying tuition, but it means the world to us.