I spent most of my time at Georgetown in The Voice’s office — for better or for worse, it’s what I loved about college and where I learned. So, consider this a biased take on the news that the Center for Student Programs will force The Voice into a smaller space next month.
For the few dozen students who are a part of The Voice, October is going to suck. They’re going to lose an office that’s institutionally woven itself into the paper’s production process in a way that’s practically and indescribably important. Along with that office space, the tight collection of writers, editors, designers and photographers who once crammed into Georgetown’s soon-to-be debate team headquarters will lose something even more vital — the atmosphere that makes The Voice a great club.
The Voice will continue to print in October, and I hope it will remain to be a good read. But the space constraints handed down by the Center for Student Programs will absolutely damage the group without addressing the need for reform. The Voice I remember — and, it should be added, I only graduated a few months ago — was a club that encouraged everybody to contribute, which is why the Leavey Center office was packed every night we put the paper together. The club thrived because it was open for anyone interested enough to walk through the door. In a smaller space, there will barely be enough room for equipment and editors; everyone else will be forced out of the process. Punishing dozens of people because of a few others’ actions doesn’t just lack any sense or reason; it’s downright cruel.
Still, that doesn’t mean The Voice should ignore the problems those three students drummed up when they ran from Department of Public Safety officers and destroyed a few thousand dollars worth of ceiling tiles (problems aside from, you know, the whole run-and-hide incident itself). They need to face difficult questions about reporting ethics and how on earth three of their own so disastrously misunderstood them. They need to figure out who should have access to office space and when they should be able to access it. They need to learn and grow and understand how to be better after it all. The Center for Student Programs had an opportunity to address any of these issues, but instead chose to undermine that chance. When institutional reform was needed, they decided to play a game of office swap.
Working on a college newspaper is an odd thing to want to do. You earn little to no money, you stay up past dawn far more often than is healthy and you develop a gnawing itch to learn about things you shouldn’t know — or at least I did when I was at The Voice. It’s an irreplaceable experience that, thanks to Georgetown’s lack of an undergraduate journalism program, can’t even begin to be replicated in the classroom. The Center for Student Program’s decision slashes at that opportunity, affecting not just The Voice, but also an underrepresented field that doesn’t deserve such a careless blow.
I guess I just don’t understand this brand of punishment. Why blame a collective body of a few dozen students for the actions of three? Why make it more difficult for those students to chase their passion? Why hand down a punishment with such repercussive and far-reaching effects?
The Center for Student Programs is going after a blemish with a claw hammer. I only hope that they realize their mistake before the newspaper I love is ruined for it.
Chris Heller graduated from the College in 2011 and was a news and blog editor of The Voice.