SCOVILLE: Building an Inclusive Newspaper

My time on The Hoya has been fairly common. I applied with the backing of a journalism education in high school and passed up paid internships (and occasionally skipped classes) to do my job, and I had the family and support network to help keep me here. My last 3½ years have been the result of passion for the power of journalism and countless hours of hard work — and also a privileged background. But my background should not be the most common in this newsroom. Leavey 421 has been my home and my classroom for the past 3½ years. It has been the place I have made my best friends, learned my most important lessons and made my biggest mistakes. Under our yellowing lights and rusted ceiling panels, I have come to appreciate the immense responsibility of the press, the value of passion and hard work, and the meaning of friendship. I have also come to learn that this organization rewards drive, determination and a desire to learn — for those who can afford to be here. The Hoya has much work to do in improving its representation of diverse voices. We as staffers must expand our outreach efforts to underrepresented communities, reform our hiring process to better accommodate the varied experiences of incoming freshmen and create an internal culture that appreciates the differing experiences of students. And while we have made promising strides in this work, it will always require more attention. But university-imposed limitations prevent The Hoya from becoming the diverse, inclusive and open organization its needs to be. The Hoya receives a portion of its funding from the institutions we are charged with holding accountable: the university and the Georgetown University Student Association. Each year, we submit a budget request to the Media Board, which receives an allocation of the student activity fee from the GUSA Finance and Appropriations Committee, based on the requests of campus media groups. Last year, the Media Board received $75,000 — $5,000 below the Media Board’s minimum request. As a result, we deferred important investments — such as replacing 10-year-old computers — and shifted the burden to staffers by asking them to buy office supplies. In many respects, this outcome is expected: Student groups must compete for finite resources, and the unfortunate reality is that no one will ever be completely happy. The process is different for media groups, however. When we submitted our budget request last year, we did so with full knowledge that the chair of the FinApp committee — who used his tie-breaking vote in our allocation — said he uses The Hoya as toilet paper. The Media Board submits its budget each year to students whom we cover, criticize and hold accountable. An example: Every year we publish an article on this funding process. The people we report on have cut our print budgets, ignored how dire our circumstances are and questioned the necessity of a student press. Even when we do receive our funding, we have to fight to use it. Our new website, which was supposed to launch earlier this fall, was delayed because the university can only send paper checks that take up to 30 days to process, after weeks of us requesting they send one to our website developer. Our new server, which we rely on to produce our newspaper, took three months of effort to have delivered — including having a university administrator accidentally send it to Texas instead of Georgetown. We do not want to need university funding forever, and we work hard each year to improve our sales. We can be clearer about where our money goes and why we need it. The reality, though, is that we are still years away from financial independence. We need GUSA senators who believe in the importance of student journalism, not ones who slash our budgets because they disagree with our work. We need university administrators who can guide us through the bureaucracy and complete purchase orders in less than a few months. As long as the students who work on this paper are required to cover for university mismanagement and a politicized funding process, we will never be the organization that we or the Georgetown community wants us to be. Only when we are properly funded will we be truly accessible to all Georgetown students. Every day I am reminded how lucky I am to work for this organization. Having the opportunity to share the stories of those who seek to make this campus a better place has been an incredible honor. Working with 275 of my extraordinarily kind, thoughtful and driven peers each day to do so has been a privilege. The Hoya has given me my friends, my lessons learned and my experiences — my Georgetown experience. It is an experience everyone should have access to. Ian Scoville is a senior in the College and the 144th editor-in-chief of The Hoya. His term ends Saturday.

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