By The Torch Editorial Board
There are some degrees that students sign up for because of the passion they have for that particular field, not because of the money they’ll hope to earn. The majors in communication require that passion, despite the fact it may not be listed on the major course requirements list. There are expectations students require from their education and the school itself, which Torch editors feel is somewhat lacking towards our program.
The fifth floor of the Gage building is home to the Communication Department, and houses the student-run media programs and computer labs for students of this discipline. Journalism, integrated marketing communication and media studies are some of the majors within the program. As one of the smaller programs of Roosevelt, it is often not marketed compared to the other programs by the university despite being in Chicago, the third largest media market.
The Gage itself is not a part of the orientation for freshman, mostly due to time restraints. This leaves the departments in Gage often segregated and forgotten about for those who do not have to travel there for classes.
Due to low enrollment, the graduate degree program for journalism was cut last year. And because the university under additional constraints, there is a real possibility that the university could sell the Gage Building in the future. This poses a concern for us because the entire communication department is housed there. Our assets, including the sound room, dark room, the Blaze’s radio station room and our very own Torch newspaper room would be presumably sold along with the building. Likewise, our computer labs with valuable equipment and Apple computers would also be gone. This would impact the department deeply, even if it would provide financial relief for the university.
The lack of funding and resources already impacts our department. There are not enough cameras to check out to students for classes, which is why there is only a 24 hour rental period. There is only one lab aide on duty in the communications lab. As with other small departments on campus, the burden of teaching all the classes lands on only a few experienced professors. The programs we use are similar to what we may use in the field, but not exact.
The time to learn these complex programs is often brief in class, leaving students requiring more help outside of the classroom during lab hours. Students who are interested in pursuing broadcast instead of print journalism have few resources to do so.
Additionally, finding out information on our department, correct computer lab times and links to student-run media is difficult on the website. Some links are not valid or are outdated since the recent switch to the new website, however the problems were submitted to the webmaster.
Student media itself is often invisible on campus and get little to no coverage or boost from the school’s website. The Blaze and Fire are online only, so it is more difficult for them to get traction and attention from students.
If the communication program is to thrive during this transformational time in the university’s history, the department’s assets should be marketed more and valued. Journalism is not dead, and we need the program to continue teaching future journalists, and IMC or media studies students so when they go into one of the highest journalism job markets in the country, they can have the skills to get a job.
There is always a fear when choosing a major within communication of not being able to find a job after graduation, but knowing the university supports what students do helps ignite that passion in students to pursue their major. Some students have switched their major because of this fear, and a feeling of unpreparedness.
While the university may not have the funds currently to hire more lab aids and professors, or get more equipment to include more broadcast options into the curriculum, in the long term it should be considered as an investment for the school and for the major itself. Students are afterall investments to the school, who are investing in their futures.
Roosevelt should be more inclusive in marketing smaller departments. Including a space for the student run media on the website and the app to make the department’s student-run media more accessible and visible would create a place where the Roosevelt community can not only go to log into Blackboard or RU Access, but listen to the Blaze, read Torch news or watch a RU Fire video.
Expanding campus culture by including the student-run media in Roosevelt’s projects, such as the app or new website, would also help us learn as students outside of the classroom through mentorship. With the launch of the new website, there is room for growth in how Roosevelt portrays its smaller departments.