The English Department’s Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Committee hosted its annual interdisciplinary conference on May 2, 2019 at LaGuardia Community College (LaGCC). This year’s theme was “Body Politics.” The main co-organizers of this event, Dr. Meghan Fox and Dr. Anita Baksh, along with many more contributors helped in making this day a success. The […]
I would first like to thank you for taking the time to attend to this correspondence. I understand that your duties as President of LaGuardia Community College commands your attention, so I will try to make this as short as I possibly can. And because you are now stepping down after 20 years, I hope your attention to the following matter will be yet another feather in your cap before you bid adieu to LaGuardia.
My name is Serafin Santiago. I am an Alumnus of LaGuardia, having graduated June of 2017. I was the Editor-in-Chief of both the print and online component of the student newspaper The Bridge throughout my last year and a half of attending the college. Because of my extensive work alongside student journalists, the Advisory staff and several faculty members, Professor Victor Rosa asked me to stay on as the Journalism Consultant/Mentor to those taking over the newspaper beginning in the fall semester of 2017.
The reason why I am reaching out to you is, in my estimation, extremely important. Since myinvolvement with The Bridge began roughly 2 years ago, the Editors and staff have been metwith seemingly insurmountable problems that have hampered operations at the newspaper. Campus Life has been the de facto bursar to clubs in general, along with The Bridge itself. The budget that it has access to, has continuously decreased for several years with no explanations. There has also been a seemingly collaborative effort to stall The Bridge by denying the students proper office space in a timely manner which, and most importantly, ineptly damages student’s voice on campus.
Journalists and Journalism itself is under attack in this country for a host of reasons. Despite the current state of affairs outside of campus, which is well beyond our control, it behooves LaGuardia to at least allow these students the proper material and opportunities to produce quality journalism on campus. The power of the press has a wealth of good attached to it, regardless of the “fake news” moniker so haphazardly attached to it by the current administration in Washington DC. There is a reason that it is protected under the First Amendment. Yet it seems that external influences are being readily applied to these students, and by proxy The Bridge, who are being taught the craft by professors right here in LaGuardia. All of whom are experienced men and women that truly understand the value of a free press. Not because they just espouse the First Amendment by virtue but practice good journalism as a trade.
If the reasons behind these motions to negate and disenfranchise LaGuardia’s sole student newspaper aren’t driven by the influences I spoke of, then these students deserve to know the unmitigated facts behind Campus Life’s motives to not assist the group, along with why The Bridge has not been supported by LaGuardia as it has been in the past. It has been extremely taxing on the periodical’s current staff. Especially when they have no real newsroom to speak of, no genuine support from LaGuardia, and not a drop of assistance outside of what Chairman Gordon Tapper, Professors Victor Rosa, Allia Abdulla-Matta, and Megan Fox, along with Mr. Edward Hollins, provide individually and collectively.
I tried vehemently to expand the periodical beyond what it had been. It had virtually disappeared from the minds of practically everyone on campus prior to my tenure as both student and Editor. The work that Forrest Crellin, Jonathan Custodio, Tasha Balkaran, Ambar Castillo and a host of other students to effectively resurrect and maintain the newspaper isn’t something that should devolve it into a footnote. Rather it should be exalted because The Bridge is where LaGuardia’s student body produces material that holds distinction in many respects.
The newspaper has served to highlight events that have happened on and off campus, and thatdirectly effects students. Student journalists have produced articles focusing on arts, culture and paying homage to professors and friends of LaGuardia, to doing hard news stories that center on the DACA issue affecting a plethora of students within the CUNY system. The Bridge covers these stories just as well if not more intimately than periodicals like Brooklyn College’s Excelsior or The Kingsman and York College’s online-based Pandora’s Box. The Bridge’s latest acclaim is being responsible in helping Michael Hernandez, Jamie Riccio and untold others bring back WLGR – LaGuardia’s Web Radio station after an almost permanent hiatus.The Bridge has the power to prove that the immensely vilified craft of Journalism isn’t something meant to dissuade and promote ulterior motives. In this instance, it exists to provide students an opportunity to hone their craft with the proper guidance, as well as provide professors the tools with which to perform said guidance. And despite the history that saw questionable leadership and editorial mishaps that pepper some faculty and staff ’s recollections, this version of The Bridge is not the same of old.
It is of the utmost importance that these issues be addressed and, if possible, rectified immediately. No student entering LaGuardia Community College should have to encounterThis kind of excessive and unnecessary disregard for their preferred method of involvement on campus. The students who staff the newspaper pour their hearts into their work. And to see them struggle with what would be considered in any newsroom the simplest of tasks, is a massive disappointment to me, as it should be to any journalist. If The Bridge is to serve as a means to educate and enlighten student, staff and faculty alike, I ask that you please allow The Bridge to receive all that they need in order to operate in a smooth and unhindered manner. So as to fulfill their role and provide students and faculty the outlet with which to perfect their contributions to society now, and in the future.