It’s never good to see anything shut down.
But when it’s a student-run newspaper at the community college where I had worked since 2001, it’s even more devastating.
Here’s the story: the Kapio Newspress, which has been the campus newspaper at Kapiolani Community College since the ’70s, is going to cease printing as of this semester. The administration decided to change the program from one that supported student-run publications to a place where faculty and staff could post outstanding student work. Meaning, there would be no need for a student staff and all decisions would be made by the school instead.
I suppose people can say it’s the sign of the times. With newspapers shutting down or shrinking across the country, it’s no wonder a campus newspaper would assume the same fate.
But the publications program, at least to me, wasn’t only about providing journalism students an opportunity to get published and hone reporting, writing, editing and design skills. It was about providing them campus jobs, real-life work experience, and a place for them to hang out and make friends.
That’s what I tried to do when I was faculty adviser there from 2008 to 2012.
Turns out, I was the last full-time faculty member to oversee this program. I left to pursue writing full time and to travel; I didn’t expect my departure would trigger something like this.
I can’t say I know exactly what’s going on. I’ve heard different stories about why this decision was ultimately made, but I can’t pretend to know exactly why the school decided to remove the “student-run” part of “student-run publications.” I’m sure there’s a good reason, but it doesn’t change the fact that this is happening and I’m torn up about it.
I believed in what we did there. Every student, no matter what discipline or major, had the opportunity to get published. There’s something thrilling about seeing your name in print, like it validates your thoughts, your opinions, your existence. Since every KCC student paid publication fees, it was important to provide access to these publications and the opportunity to get published — and I felt we were doing that.
I look back fondly on those years as the faculty adviser. I had some great students, many of whom I’m still in contact with, and great memories of late nights working on issues or afternoons just talking story with my staff. They were dedicated and loyal to each other, sometimes to a fault, and they loved working there. It’s sad to see this go.
But I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful that the college continues to value student writing and work and uses what we’ve built — which really started from Winnie Au, the longtime adviser and champion of student publications at KCC — as a platform to showcase that. Because, really, this should always be about what’s best for the students, period.