Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Letter: A forced farewell

The Collegian newsroom is moving for good

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Letter: A forced farewell

(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

By Opinion and Editorial Staff

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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

15 Comments

15 Responses to “Letter: A forced farewell”

  1. Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush on December 12th, 2018 9:53 am

    A bittersweet tale, but sounds like another example of the war being waged on the free press. It seems as if Mr. Quackenbush is being less than cooperative, considerate, and transparent. Why is he trying to hinder the ability of student journalists to operate?

  2. boris on December 12th, 2018 10:46 am

    this is very sad…such a legendary location…preserve it all as best as you can…pictures..furniture…the signatures…such an iconic part of UMASS. …
    GO U!

    GO COLLEGIAN STAFF!

  3. Kris Jackson on December 12th, 2018 11:34 am

    This is sad to see, but reflective of the state of the newspaper industry today. I remember the first time I saw the Collegian offices, in the upper floor of the Student Union, in January 1973. It was a bustling, vital place, full of the noise of reporters working on stories, the clatter of typewriters, the dinging of the AP teletype. Today’s J-students are going into a world where they get paid less, are less relevant than Twitter, and are constantly attacked by the president of the United States and his party.

  4. Joe Savitch on December 12th, 2018 12:16 pm

    As a former staffer back in the (gulp) 90’s I am saddened to read this post. I spent MANY a late night as editorial production manager making sure the paper hit the newsstands the next morning.

    That office has special memories… it is sad to think of it as a storage closet now. But the Collegian will live on! Keep your heads high and the administration on their toes. It is what good journalists do.

  5. Soren Hough on December 12th, 2018 1:05 pm

    I’m appalled by the news and have made my feelings known to the appropriate decision-makers. I hope my fellow alumni will do the same. This was an anti-democratic, unilateral and anti-student decision and it should be protested where possible.

  6. Garth Brody on December 12th, 2018 1:05 pm

    Shameful handling by UMass. Hope to see some follow-up on this. News section, do your thing.

  7. Maureen Sullivan on December 12th, 2018 2:25 pm

    Having worked at the Collegian in the 70s and 80s, I find it outrageous that the university would treat the student newspaper in such as callous manner. I wish everyone associated with the Collegian the best of luck with the new digs, and to continue the tradition that has marked journalism at UMass for more than a century.
    In other words — keep their feet to the fire.

  8. Larissa Potapchuk on December 12th, 2018 5:02 pm

    I am sadly surprised at this lack of courtesy for the Collegian staff; professionalism and respectful behavior should be shown to every group and person. Reneging on an agreement for a grace period is unacceptable. Perhaps consider escalation of this unfortunate and disruptive event, which should have never occurred, especially so close to final exams.

  9. Lorraine Urbanski on December 12th, 2018 5:05 pm

    I, too, was a Collegian editorial production manager in the 1990s as well as an arts reviewer and occasional columnist. Like you all, I’m sad, shocked, and disappointed to hear about this and will voice my concern, as a donor and proud journalism and Collegian alumna, to the appropriate staff. Stay strong, and keep reporting the news.

  10. Peter Hendrickson on December 12th, 2018 6:09 pm

    Kill ’em with ink. Direct action considerations should not be taken off the table. Will visit next time in Amherst. Reconsidering alum donation to UMass.
    Peter Hendrickson,
    Remond, WA
    Daily Collegian Editor-in-Chief ~1965
    Navigation Northwest, Editor 2011–

  11. Uri on December 13th, 2018 7:22 am

    It’s a shame that the university has completed its slow takeover of the campus center, traditionally a student-controlled space since it was built at student expense.

  12. amy on December 13th, 2018 7:51 am

    I have to say the DC staff is not that sophisticated, you’re basically a lackey for the college; you’re totally bereft of any critical reporting , basically a printing press for the college’s press releases and the SGA.

    What do you expect? Of course you’re seen as a doormat.

  13. Pete Norwood on December 13th, 2018 8:55 am

    I haven’t been on campus for long, but this seems about on par for our administration. This is the same administration that has blown up incidents of ignorance and idiocy as “symptomatic of a larger scale white supremacy problem” on campus. Not a huge fan of all the pro-socialist and anti-right wing posters around either. Sorry to hear about your office guys! Good luck in the new one!

  14. Darren Garnick on December 13th, 2018 10:14 am

    So to clarify, the Collegian offices will stay in the Campus Center basement until Student Union renovations are completed — and then move into the new and improved Student Union? How long do you think that will be? I want to pay tribute to this sacred ground before it is turned into a storage closet.

  15. Albert Sherman on December 13th, 2018 5:54 pm

    Pushing a genuinely important organ that keeps people informed regularly and reliably. Good that you pushed back. /as

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