Emporia is over three hours away from my hometown. I moved here to pursue my dream job, music journalism, and to grow up, take risks, become someone new. Then my world at Emporia State fell apart. The university fired 33 professors, suspended the journalism program, and plunged all of us into uncertainty.
Other Bulletin staffers have written about what they’ve gone through with this. Sam Bailey wrote a column in which she said she stopped being a student on the day of the firings and became a journalist.
It was hard for me because I don’t like covering hard news. I had no idea what to do or how to help. Just starting my second year of college, I only had one year of journalism experience, but was being asked to cover faculty senate meetings.
As you read this, please temporarily set your feelings for The Bulletin aside or even that I write for them. Remember that I am a 20 year-old college student whose entire world changed as I watched helplessly.
Not only did I have to live through the firings as a student, but also as a journalist. I sat in a room for hours with professors as they cried and tried to defend their jobs. Do you have any idea how heartbreaking it was to see Dan Colson, associate professor of English, modern languages and journalism, during a faculty senate meeting stand up and tell his coworkers all they can do now is hug their families?
All The Bulletin staff could do is report on this, hoping it would make a difference or bring change. I remember posting our stories and begging people to read them and be alert, but even my friends didn’t click the link or pick up a paper. However, once the decisions were announced my phone immediately blew up asking for explanations. Well too little too late, and that’s why journalism matters. The protests could have been bigger or even more could have been held. Maybe the students could have made a difference if people would just read our articles.
It doesn’t matter now, what does matter now is that my professor was fired. My program was cut. How could ESU ask me to stay here, pay their tuition after I witnessed them hurt so many people carelessly?
How can this university ask me to finish my degree here when they don’t even think it's important enough to keep around in the first place? The school promised students in cut programs that they could finish out here with a degree, but the classes aren’t even being offered.
At the start of this current semester, I tried to enroll in journalism classes. I asked my advisor to put me in as many classes as I could with Professor Max McCoy before he had to leave and she told me I couldn’t, that journalism classes were limited. Now, my coworkers are saying that they won’t be able to enroll in journalism classes next semester.
Some people defend the school saying it's because the curriculum hasn’t been announced yet, well then why make me enroll when I have to change it anyway? If they are willing to go two semesters without journalism how do I know they will ever bring it back? On top of that, I am not here to study something else, I am not here to pay for semesters where I am not getting the education I chose.
I don’t feel like I actually will get my degree if I stay here, I feel like I have been lied to. People have encouraged me to change my major, but I don’t want to and shouldn’t have to.
So I ask you ESU admin, how is this “students, students, students?” Because I feel alone, I feel burnt out, I feel devastated about the amount of heat The Bulletin has received and how my coworkers were treated during this time.
WE ARE STUDENTS. WE ARE YOUR STUDENTS. We came here to learn and you can’t even give us an interview to explain what’s going on, the same way you couldn’t explain to the professors why they were specifically chosen to be fired, with or without tenure. They were YOUR faculty and you couldn’t even give them the respect of knowing why they were the ones being forced to leave after years of service to you.
I am tired of keeping my mouth shut. I don’t think I have written a single controversial piece my entire time of being here. I have kept my head down, I wrote my sports stories, but now I can speak up in defense of student journalists and the professors that have been treated so poorly by people they trusted.
Who knows if The Bulletin will be here next semester, but I know I won’t be because I refuse to attend or give money to a school that doesn’t prioritize the students or faculty.
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