Letter: A forced farewell

The Collegian newsroom is moving for good


(Collegian file photo)

By Opinion and Editorial Staff

Editor’s note: Due to response to this letter, the University has decided to reallocate the office space to The Massachusetts Daily Collegian. The student-run newspaper will continue operating out of the offices in the Campus Center until the Student Union renovations are complete.

The name of the project manager of the Student Union renovation was redacted post-publication. The person named was not involved in the decision to reallocate the Collegian space.

In the basement of the University of Massachusetts Campus Center, you can find a group of college students. They are mostly unpaid, underfed, overtired and overworked, but from Sunday to Wednesday, they manage to produce the Massachusetts Daily Collegian. On its own, this is simply miraculous.

Students spend hours on end sprawled across this room filled with decade-old couches and ceilings covered in clippings from years past. The walls are littered with signatures and letters, desk drawers stuffed with photo negatives from the 1970s and even a poor, forgotten pair of shoes.

This cluttered space is a beloved newsroom. It’s far more than a place of work, but it’s a home for columnists, writers, translators, photographers, artists, editors, lost souls and, most importantly, anyone who needs it.

As a freshman, I stumbled my way down the escalator into this hidden room. I found myself amidst rows of computers that seldom work and sunk into the middle of a couch that had seen it all. I looked up at the fluorescent lights, and my eyes were met with a ceiling tile. The tile had been covered in signatures of past Collegian staffers, aging back to when my dad was a student. To put that into perspective, these signatures were from a very long time ago.

It wasn’t long until the newsroom became the place where I met my best friend, my current roommate and, not to be melodramatic, but mentors who have helped me grow both as a student and a person. I’ve found laughter on some of my darkest days. I’ve found the utmost support when faced with covering troubling situations on campus. And I am not alone when I speak about the newsroom providing everyone the opportunity to become stronger writers and better people.

But this Sunday, I found out that in lieu of Student Union renovations, the Collegian newsroom will be used as a storage space, forcing us to move out. Unlike other student-run businesses and clubs in the Student Union, the Collegian was informed of the move with less than two weeks’ notice. I was caught off guard hearing this, and taken aback that the University dubbed this as such a minor inconvenience.

People overseeing the Student Union renovations have access to many resources and space on campus, but they have chosen to store items in this special place. The Collegian is so much more than a club; it is an incredibly valuable asset to the University that draws students to commit to the school, myself being one of them. I am not alone in my dismay with the failure to communicate the move, nor am I complacent with this decision.

I find it difficult to grasp that academic professionals and project managers with a decently-sized budget couldn’t find access to a different space for storage on a campus larger than 1,400 acres. No concrete information or a point of contact was given to Collegian staffers, and there has been no transparency with the move. I am at loss for words with how this was handled by the University.

Editor in Chief Hayley Johnson, was informed on Friday that the Collegian would have to move out of our designated space of well over 30 years. Johnson met with the point of contact for the move that following Sunday, and the man did not give Johnson his full name, position with the renovation or email address. After meeting with Justin, the person in charge of the move, it was agreed that the Collegian would be given a grace period to finish the following week and a half in the office to complete production through the end of the semester.

But no grace period was given. The following day, I came down to the newsroom to find a pile of computers left in the center of the floor where six desks once stood. There were piles of dirt left on the floor, items left displaced and most importantly, it was more than clear that there was little to no consideration put into the move. Shelves were quickly put up in our office, a coat of dust blanketing the space, and more and more items were moved out.

As the semester comes to a close, the Collegian staffers have come together to take the pictures, news clips and random posters off the newsroom wall. Our archives have been preserved, and the door with alumni signatures will be taken off its hinges. We will continue to produce a daily newspaper in a new, smaller space, even if it doesn’t quite feel like home.

When the renovation to the Student Union is complete, the Collegian will be officially moving to a brand-new office. Change is a good thing, and it will be nice to have computers that consistently work and a couch that has seen a little less in the near future. But change is also hard, and the process of leaving our newsroom wasn’t made any easier by the University.

Morgan Reppert

Assistant Opinion and Editorial Editor