HC Column: Why Students Need A Way To Speak Up

Imagine that, to follow your dreams, you must be ridiculously skilled.

 

No exceptions.

 

In order to get where you want to be, you must acquire vast amounts of knowledge and hone your skills so that you can compete at least on the level of your superiors.

 

Now imagine you cannot gain the required skills or knowledge. If you are a journalist, you can’t write for the newspaper, or produce video productions or go interview people. If you are an artist, you have no art classes, no canvases, no ink and no drawing paper. If you are a photographer, you have no camera — much less a professional-quality one — and no photo development/editing equipment.

 

Why, you ask?

 

Because you are a student.

 

You aren’t good enough yet to warrant the ability to express yourself. Even if you just want to express yourself through words, or paint or images. You can’t get the experience you need unless you have a platform. A blog. A newspaper. A pad of paper. A roll of film. A video editing platform.

 

Limiting the platforms of where and how students can express themselves will help no one. Students — as everyone knows — have things to say. A lot of things to say. Not allowing them the tools to express this stifles their assertions and limits what the world - much less anyone - can acknowledge.

 

Students deserve a place to express themselves because they have worthwhile things to contribute.

 

Some places, at least, recognize that student’s voices are worthy of being heard. USA Today runs a “College” section, providing content from student newspapers, student correspondents on college campuses and student editorials. Students represent a section of life that wouldn’t be covered or remembered without direct reliance on the experiences and reports of those who are there.  

Student newspapers across the country provide students with a serious way to develop their skills, and additionally provide the safety net that, usually, their work will be seen only by the surrounding (and supportive) community.

 

Yanking away these platforms — just as Caitlin Moran argues for the necessity of libraries, and how public broadcasting argues for the need to keep their funding, in order to reach the most people possible — would do no good to anyone.  

Students need a way to express their thoughts, even if they may not be the most profound, most grammatically superb, or most articulate ideas that maybe the more experienced authors, bloggers and photographers could produce with the ease of 20 additional years to practice. The point is that we are learning how to do these things — we are trying our hardest, staying up until the early hours of the night to finish everything — and we need a platform to practice our skills with. The effort we put into our blogs, columns, articles, photos may not be best ever, but we are trying 100 percent and then some.

 

When considering student works, they should be judged just like anything else. When you read, however, keep in mind, that these articles may be created by someone running almost solely on caffeine, who would love to devote an hour and a half to her latest project, but must balance it out with 50 other commitments and a full load of classes.

 

I’m writing this at night, after a day of four back-to-back classes, a meeting to plan a group project, and multiple other obligations. Until 3 p.m. today, I had made stunning food choices and eaten only a croissant, cupcake and peanut butter cup due to lack of time.

 

Students don’t demand a creative platform because they are stupid and they plan to waste the opportunity they are given. They ask for a platform because they have things to say.

 

If we, as students, don’t document the things we see and experience, they go unrecorded. Entire campuses worth of ideas and content and projects, and these things vanish because they have no way of expression.

How can you get the years of experience that makes you the expert, if you aren’t given a way to begin?

Photo Credit: 1