The Collegian, the student-run newspaper, received a proclamation of “The Collegian Day” at Fresno City Hall, Thursday, April 28, 2016. Staff members Chueyee Yang, Troy Pope, Khlarissa Agee, Diana Giraldo, Laura Maciel and Megan Bronson standing outside Fresno City Hall. Darlene Wendels / The Collegian
Another school year is coming to an end, and with that another batch of students is being sent into the real world. What have they learned?
Have we actually trained the students to be competitive in the job market, or were they groomed for jobs that will keep them right here in Fresno for the rest of their lives?
These are the questions our faculty and administration must ask themselves.
As the head of a student newspaper, my main job is to serve needs of the student body. We often spotlight excellence in education, but we sometimes also shine a light on issues that many would prefer remained hidden from those who they serve — the students.
Fresno State is 105 years old. The Collegian is 94 years old. For 94 years, we’ve tried to do what’s best to serve our student constituency.
Sometimes that doesn’t make us the most popular with some administrators who’d prefer us to be a public relations arm of the college. Sometimes it means forcing conversations about matters of importance that are overlooked.
The controversy surrounding our Trump piece this semester is no exception.
A year ago, Donald Trump was considered a joke to many. People openly laughed at him and never took him seriously. “Another candidate will come along that the party will rally behind,” they said. Another candidate never did. Trump is now the only Republican running for President of the United States.
Our piece on Trump stirred up more controversy than we’d ever anticipated. Myself and others wrote individual pieces over the year about Trump which said a lot of the same thing that the “Sieg Heil” piece did. It wasn’t until we convened the editorial board and ran it on the front page that people actually listened.
Say what you want about us — Trump is the one who said he’ll deport more than 11 million people. Trump is the one who said he’ll deny entry to people of a certain religion. We didn’t stir the pot of racial and religious tensions; that was him. He did it under the facade of security and economic stability.
But is he crazy? No. He’s very rational. After all, for years the Republican platform and puppets like Fox News have stirred up the exact same fears in its constituents. “Illegals are stealing your jobs” and “Muslims are coming to get you” are extremely common themes. And they’ve successfully brainwashed much of the public.
When Trump came along, he simply forced Republicans to put their money where their mouths were. They’ve been talking about it for a generation — probably since before 9/11. And now Trump is the first person to come along and actually act on their message, and yet he’s actually being opposed by the same people who spread the fear in the first place.
He knows exactly what he’s doing.
The purpose of our Trump piece back in February was to force the conversation and tell Fresno State students to look what is happening in the world in which they are about to enter.
Not a day went by that we didn’t hear that the piece was discussed in a class somewhere on campus — classes that had nothing to do with politics or history. We even heard that it was being discussed in some local high schools.
After the storm of angry phone calls, emails, tweets and visits to our office subsided, we received floods of people from all over the community. They were from all walks of life and from various political parties. They came in and thanked us for having the courage to put ourselves out their with the message that no one was talking about previously.
This is the importance of what we do.
Many higher-ups would prefer we sit down, shut up and go with the official message. But then why would we need to exist?
A headline in The Fresno Bee said “After Trump-Hitler controversy, Fresno State distances itself from student newspaper.” But in the end, our college president, our department chair and our faculty adviser stood behind our First Amendment rights — whether or not they agreed with our message.
We are a platform for student issues. We are a platform for education issues.
We often showcase students who do incredible things. And as I step down as The Collegian’s executive editor, I can tell you that the young adults you find working in a student newsroom are some of the hardest working you’ll find on a campus. The work takes countless hours of dedication and yet they still find time to actually be a student.
The Collegian is an institution that belongs not just to us, but to all students. It’s your newspaper; it’s all of our paper. We don’t just represent Fresno State, we are Fresno State, and we’re proud to be Bulldogs.