Freshman questions yield editor thought

Todd Vanderwerff

Todd Vanderwerff

Every day for the last month or so, they’ve been coming in to our office to ask us (usually me) questions about how we run things down here.

The questions are often insightful and give us pause.

They walk around the water spots in the carpet and the piles of old newspapers to make their way to my desk, where someone is usually sitting, using the Internet or something relatively unimportant like that.

They, of course, are the kids from General Studies 100, the freshman (and the occasional older folks) who are trying to figure out what to do with their lives. They’re given lists of on-campus businesses they can talk to and apparently one of those businesses is the Collegian.

Between all of us, the members of my staff have probably talked to over 30 of these kids and the questions they asked have given us a lot of thought.

The one question that all of them ask that gives us pause is what our relationship with the university is and what services we provide students of this university.

So what is our relationship with the university anyway?

I wrote a number of columns last year trying to explain just this fact, so I won’t elaborate on it beyond what most already know: we don’t get money from the university at any level (except when they buy ads from us), though we are given free office space in the union and have our utilities and such paid for.

Despite that, we’re completely independent. Some days, we wish we had university money. Some days, we’re glad we’re independent.

Every day, however, this relationship with the university affects in one way or another.

Over the past year-and-some-months that I’ve worked in a leadership position at this newspaper, it has been argued by several that we should be the university’s mouthpiece and that we should always present the university in a good light.

While I can see why people would want us to do this, I have to disagree with that basic philosophy.

To always present the university in a good light would be suicide for us. Students rely on us to present the university as it really is, warts and all (whether you know you do or not). If we started printing articles saying that everything the university did was genius, we would lose credibility with you and you would read us even less than you already do.

I’ll be the first to admit that there are a lot of good things about SDSU. But there are also some bad things and it is our responsibility to report them in a fair manner, letting you make up your own mind what is good or bad.

So what services do we provide you?

We hope we’re providing you fair, unbiased news that’s interesting and entertaining to read.

If we’re not, please write us a letter and take us to task.

We’re big boys and girls. We can handle it.

Todd VanDerWerff rules the Collegian staff with an iron fist. Reach him at [email protected]