By Alan Blanchard | Faculty Adviser
"The Echo Opinions section is a space for students alone, not a space for faculty to voice their opinions or thoughts."
This or a similar reply reached my ears more than once when I asked some faculty colleagues outside my department last year if they had ever considered submitting thoughtful commentary to this student newspaper. I was more surprised by this answer above than with faculty who confirmed they were either open to submitting pieces for consideration and/or had done so in the past.
Two things quickly emerged. Some faculty thought it was unspoken etiquette for faculty to refrain from submitting opinion pieces, while other faculty thought it unseemly to compete for space with undergrad students desiring to publish their commentary. After all, it is a student newspaper, I was told more than once.
While the news, human interest, sports articles and most of the opinion pieces are produced by The Echo student journalists, value exists in reading the voices of faculty occasionally publishing commentary in The Echo. My argument went something like this: just as students in the classroom benefit from the exchange of ideas, opinions and thoughts shared between students and professor, so do students benefit from a similar exchange on the opinion page of the student newspaper.
For Taylor University, the Opinions page serves as a sort of free marketplace of ideas for the exchange of ideas within our community of students, staff and faculty readers. Further, as a Christian university with a mission and zeal for articulating and modeling integration of faith into all aspects of life and work, it makes perfect sense for faculty to occasionally share thoughtful articles outside the classroom walls and on the page in The Echo containing a variety of commentary.
The whole community benefits when faculty shares thoughtful commentary in The Echo. And faculty benefit when they voluntarily give up some of their limited time to convey in a succinct (no more than) 600-word guest column about an issue of importance from a biblical worldview. There's also a mental benefit to writing succinctly that accrues to faculty who take on this task.
Many students will never hear the voice of many of our faculty members, due to time constraints, choice of major, etc. Many faculty will never share a classroom with all of our students for similar reasons.
However, when faculty and students publish commentary side by side in The Echo, they may make connections with one another that would have never been possible in person.
As I begin my second of year of teaching journalism courses and serving as faculty adviser to The Echo at Taylor, I look forward to the great journalism that I know our student staff will produce.
And I hope additional faculty at Taylor will consider submitting thoughtful commentary to The Echo for the good of the community of students, staff and faculty.
A newspaper is like a mirror when it endeavors to reflect the community it serves. Part of that reflection has included and should continue to include faculty guest columns to The Echo.
Guest columns may be submitted to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alan D. Blanchard, Ph.D., associate professor of journalism, co-chair, Communication Department, Taylor University, advises The Echo student newspaper. Prior to academia he worked as a photojournalist, reporter, editor or publisher at daily or weekly newspapers in California, Indiana, Michigan, New Mexico and Ohio - email@example.com