What’s to become of the ESG and WSGR?
On Wednesday March 23, 2016, Associate Dean of Instruction Services Jim Neese, Vice President of Student Services Pete Lacey, and Professor of English and Advisor of the Erie Square Gazette John Lusk met to hammer out the details of the contingency of what is left of SC4’s discontinued communications and broadcast degrees.
The Erie Square Gazette is a student run publication – run by the students, for the students, without administration oversight – and has been in one incarnation or another since 1931. WSGR first aired in 1974 with its call sign standing for Student Government Radio.
Both the ESG and WSGR have been previously staffed by students who were working towards their degrees in communications, broadcast or journalism. While the classes still exist for these degrees, students have always been able to join the ESG or WSGR teams as a part of a club.
SC4 does have future plans for both the ESG and WSGR. Both clubs will operate under Student Clubs & Activities like they already have been. SC4 also plans on housing the student communications under Student Services, with direct contact and influence from Pete Lacey as well as Sherry Artman, the Secretary to the Vice President of Student Services.
Staffing and recruitment will also be reconfigured under SC4’s plan. Currently, the ESG editors are given scholarships funded by Student Government (Editor in Chief with one “full” scholarship, two nine credit scholarships for Production Editor and Webmaster, four six credit scholarships for Copy Editor, Managing Editor, Photo Editor, and Sports Editor, and a three credit scholarship plus commission for the Business Editor). Staff and guest writers are volunteers. WSGR is also run by student volunteers. Recruitment for both clubs are through class practicums and events such as Club Awareness Day and Stressbreaker.
Under the new proposed ideas, ESG and WSGR will hire student workers through paid positions similar to current work study programs. This will eliminate the current scholarships for the editor positions. Instead of student volunteer efforts, recruitment will be primarily handled through SC4 orientation and student advising as well as during visits to local high schools. SC4 has also proposed additional cooperation between student communications and SC4’s Marketing & Communications department.
Club advisors, who are also faculty here at SC4, will not only be expected to meet with the new student workers and answer their questions – but now will be expected to train each individual for their required duties, monitor student activities while in the offices, approve time sheets for work, and review and evaluate student content under SC4’s new plan.
Not only do club advisors not have time to perform these responsibilities on top of their responsibilities as instructors, it is impractical for them to do so. ESG editors and WSGR disc jockeys are in and out of their respective offices all day every day that SC4’s buildings are unlocked. Some stay for five minutes to submit projects, others stay in the office for hours at a time to crank out that week’s edition.
Not to mention that most of the work that goes into writing articles for the ESG is done outside of the office. From interviewing the City Manager, to taking photos at local events, to polling students about SC4 smoking policies, ESG writers spend hours on the streets collecting info for the next story. There is no way to accurately document hours spent outside of the office without either the advisor chaperoning each event, relying solely on the individual student’s honesty, or simply not paying the student for their work.
Club advisors and administration also cannot review, alter, or censor student publications or radio broadcasts in any way. According to the Student Press Law Center at splc.org, “The courts have ruled that if a school creates a student news medium and allows students to serve as editors, the First Amendment drastically limits the school’s ability to censor. Among the censoring actions the courts have prohibited are confiscating copies of publications, requiring prior review, removing objectionable material, limiting circulation, suspending editors and withdrawing or reducing financial support.”
In other words, student communications are fully protected by the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights even if they are funded by a scholarly institution such as SC4.
Other ideas proposed at the meeting were the combination of both the ESG and WSGR into one entity, and the Webmaster position at the ESG being offered to CIS students and several other editor positions being offered to Graphic Arts students.
We here at the ESG and WSGR want to know what the students think. To submit your opinions e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the ESG or WSGR on Facebook. One could also drop by our club meetings with the ESG meeting at 2 p.m. on Thursdays in the Main Building room 123 and the WSGR meeting at 12 p.m. on Wednesdays in the Fine Arts Building room 27.