Commentary: The News needs space for learning

Northeastern claims to be a leader in urban engagement and integrating classroom learning with real-world experience. That philosophy has taken a back seat for administrators in Student Affairs who are set on taking away the office in which student journalists have worked hard for more than half a century, in exchange for much less than half that space.

The News contributes to the university in ways beyond helping students prepare for careers in journalism. It serves as a source of information for our community and provides students with a chance to voice their views and concerns.

With a staff of more than 50 students who regularly participate in its production, The News has recently taken steps to begin publishing twice a week starting in the fall. As a laboratory for learning, the change marks the next logical step for the newspaper and one that will likely make the university a more attractive option for future generations of truth-seekers interested in studying journalism in Boston.

We ought to be excited about recruiting new members from the incoming class, not fighting to find them a place to sit.

The News should have been provided adequate time and careful planning to allow for flexibility in the changing atmosphere of the modern newsroom. Instead, we were pressured to choose from three options that were based on availability, not research, and our office space was reduced from 2,527 to 941 square feet.

Former Northeastern president Richard Freeland, who set the university on the path to becoming one of the top 100 schools in the country, recognized the value in promoting a strong student press. “At the end of the day,” Freeland wrote in a 2003 essay, “our most important purpose is to help students prepare for the challenges and opportunities of work and life.

“We do this by striving to be a university that keeps students at the center of things and that gives students the opportunity to put into practice what they learn in the classroom,” he wrote. “I am hard pressed to find anything that students do at Northeastern that is more practice-oriented than publishing a weekly newspaper written and produced solely by students.”

Meanwhile, Dean of Campus Life Marina Iannalfo said moving administrative offices up from the second floor “will bring lots of life to the fourth floor.” It’s a shame Iannalfo never stopped by on a Tuesday night to gauge how much life was already in place on that floor as the paper was being put together.

A move like this isn’t just about shuffling around some desks. It’s about taking the next step to make us a more practical education workshop, a concept that has been a cornerstone of Northeastern’s mission since it was founded in 1898.

As far as Freeland was concerned, no idea was “closer to the heart of the university.”

– Ricky Thompson is a junior

journalism major and editor in chief of The News.

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