By Neil Ruud
Students are known for their brazen disregard for convention, their skeptical approach to the status quo. Over the years, universities like UC Davis have been at the forefront of progress in civilization, from the apartheid boycotts to protests against increasing student fees and growing income inequality to a dichotomy unseen since the Gilded Age.
I’m not saying that student media enabled these stands against injustice, but student media helped document these movements and give them a voice, unfiltered by malignant administration bureaucrats and their sanctioned publications or corporate-run media outlets looking to stoke an emotional response from their audiences in place of educating them.
The California Aggie, UCD’s student newspaper, was there to document the infamous pepper-spraying incident of 2011 and its photographers were launched into the international spotlight with the work they did. Al Jazeera plagiarized Aggie TV’s interview with Chancellor Linda Katehi, putting its watermark over AGTV’s.
Maybe student activism isn’t your thing, and in that case take a look at the educational value of student media. Both of the above incidents resulted in teachable moments about fair use and copyright laws, and gave student journalists a glimpse of covering crisis.
Yes, it’s also no secret that student media are prone to making mistakes, but those mistakes are also teachable moments — not just for student journalists, but the UCD community as a whole. Those mistakes can be painful and divisive, much like the Jungle Fever column that resulted in one of the most intense Media Board meetings in recent history.
These teachable moments are unique to student-run media and cannot be taught in the lecture hall. All of us are better on the other side of them and that is exactly what should happen in atmosphere of experimentation and exploration that the university fosters.
Please save student media and open the door for future generations to benefit from the same, sometimes painful, teachable moments that can give a student their first steps in their journey to becoming a professional.
As students, you are not just beneficiaries of the institutions you inhabit, but stewards of an increasingly endangered resource. The proposed student fee of $9.30 is a minuscule price to pay for invaluable experiences vital to the development of tomorrow’s media professionals.
Even better, if you really want to improve these institutions first-hand, I encourage you to attend volunteer meetings for an ASUCD media outlet — The Aggie, Aggie TV or KDVS. It might change your life. Careers have been made, spouses have been met and educations have been augmented beyond what the classroom can provide.
Plus, it’s fun as hell.
— Neil Ruud, a 2012 UC Davis graduate, is the former general manager of KDVS, 90.3 FM.