The Yuba College campus is as lively as a garden snail, and it seems that nobody cares. Among the few things that Yuba College provides that reflect a higher form of education are a few campus clubs (many of which are inactive), the Crossing Borders Building Bridges series (that most students attend for the benefit of extra credit), the one college play produced each semester (that few ever attend) and Yuba College’s student newspaper, The Prospector.
Throughout the years, the student newspaper has had to overcome fluctuations in the size of its staff-which has been as large as 15 students and as small as five-unreliable computers, unresponsive sources and apathetic students. Today, the student newspaper remains on the endangered list of the things that are indicative of student involvement. Until late April, it was unknown whether The Prospector would even be an option for students. This semester, the faculty advisor of nine years, Brian Jukes, announced he was no longer teaching the course. No other instructor was up for the task, as many were intimidated by the complexities of the required software or the sheer workload of heading up a student newspaper.
Thankfully, there is a newspaper god, and English instructor Greg Kemble bravely volunteered to take a walk in Jukes’ shoes, which will be somewhat hard to fill.
But what if Mr. Kemble had not stepped forward? What if no faculty member agreed to advise the student newspaper? What if student enrollment remains low? What if Yuba College loses one of the few things that represent student life in this dustbowl of student interest? It is a possibility we dread considering.
A student newspaper is indicative of a respectable college. A student newspaper provides student involvement and interest on campus. It acts as a student advocate and brings to light the misdeeds or hidden agenda college officials often are guilty of. It breathes life into a campus and, indeed, into the democratic process.
Without The Prospector, no information of college events would be available to students. Although the student government sometimes produces a “Student Bulletin,” few students ever actually see it. The Prospector is read by many. It provides photos of events, information about fundraisers, reviews of the latest college play, witty campus comments and investigative stories that get students and staff alike to think-and better yet, to talk about issues that matter.
According to a 2005 Pew Research poll, 33 percent of Americans actually think that a free press hurts a democracy. This poll alone supports the long-standing irrefutable axiom that 33 percent of all Americans are incapable of rational thought. But beyond that, the poll reveals just how neglected and unappreciated the press is in American society, how disengaged Americans are with the democratic process and how ignorant they are of the US Constitution and its protection of citizens’ rights.
Hopefully, college students value the press more than the average American. Hopefully, college students understand why the press is protected by the first amendment of the US Constitution and why it should continue to be protected on a college campus.
Hopefully, Yuba College will continue to support a student newspaper, and students will begin to value it.