Introducing the first thing I have posted on my wall (REAL wall, that is–NOT Facebook) since I have moved into my apartment:
The very first issue of the Cooper Point Journal (CPJ), the paper for which I am the print managing editor (there is a web managing editor for, obviously, the web edition). The CPJ is a weekly publication put out by the CPJ student group, but more broadly, it is a paper by and for the students, which is most important. The CPJ accepts any type of content from anyone enrolled as a student at the Evergreen State College, which is very cool. We have two advisors, but they don’t have any say over what goes in the paper (nor does any other faculty member). The student group is comprised entirely of students who put out the web and print publication, as well as students to manage and maintain the business side of things. We only receive a certain amount of funding from the Student Activities department of the school, and the student activities funds come directly from students through tuition, so the paper is quite literally BY the students, in all senses. Students in positions of responsibility receive a learning allotment most weeks of the quarter, which enables them to spend the time that they do at the CPJ.
The CPJ is not a “job,” and we do not get “paid.” We don’t even “work.” We have responsibilities, and are held accountable for those responsibilities by the mere fact that we are members of the organization. We don’t need to know a certain amount before coming into a position at the CPJ (seriously, I am a managing editor after only 3 years of being involved in journalism of any sort; that tells you something), but we are encouraged to learn while we’re at the CPJ–hence the designation of the CPJ being a “learning laboratory.”
Anyway, as my position indicates, I am responsible for the print edition of the paper, which is weekly. The first paper came off the presses today, and I got to watch it happen. I was given a copy right then and there, with that picture on the cover that I took and the cover design that I did. I was (and am) so proud of that thing.
So… why do I feel guilty? The thing about the CPJ is that, since we don’t “work,” we don’t have hours, so technically we are at liberty to leave whenever we want. But since we are responsible and accountable for certain tasks, they should be priority. Plus, there is always the chance that more may come up, or tasks may be delegated, and there is the real looming responsibility of the actual publication. So “leadership” (the business manager, associate business manager, editor in chief, associate editor, web managing editor, and print managing editor) are usually under the impression that other members will be (or should be) as dedicated to producing the overall result as we are. Well, frankly, sometimes they just aren’t.
That should be fine with us. I mean, technically their position has certain responsibilities assigned to it, and if they take care of those they are free to lead a life. The problem is that we get so caught up in what has to be done, and usually we are so short-staffed, that we feel the need to delegate tasks to these people that somehow have gotten done with their section early.
…Ok, I’m tired of explaining this, so the short version is that there is A TON of guilt-tripping in the CPJ. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone.
I felt the guilt pressure almost all of last year in my various positions, as well as this past summer when I was at home having a normal life when everyone else was at the office having responsibilities in which I was expected to take part or share.
So though I never told anyone when I came back this year, my ultimate goal is to never guilt trip someone. If someone is done and says something like “…so…I think I’ll head out now,” I can respond with no more than, “all right. If you find you have more time, let us know if you’re free and we can give you something to do.” That’s it. Because I am so fed up with these people being presented with that situation of someone wanting to leave and saying, “well… ok… it would be great if you could stay a while longer, because there’s a lot left to do…”
What BS. Suck it up and do some work yourself. Last night was production night, and I felt like I did a ton because we were short-staffed and people left. And I was fine with it. I am at the CPJ because I have an extreme passion for journalism. And I want that passion to show through my drive and motivation to put out a quality paper without too much perfectionism. Actually, I can’t imagine what it would be like if we had a full staff. What would I do?!
Our advisor once said, when we were anticipating the switch to our primarily online medium, that “Jo can put out a print paper by herself. So what you guys need to focus on is the website.” And, though that probably wouldn’t be something I’d prefer in the heat of the moment, it sounds a little daringly awesome.
It won’t happen. The CPJ is a students’ paper, not a student’s paper. [If you don’t understand that line, please leave this blog. Now.]
And I don’t want it to happen. I am so caught up in the awesomeness of the ‘voice of the students thing’ that I never want to give that up. Why would a publication function any differently?
It seems like every time I find something new about Evergreen, I react to it like I did when I got my Mac: Why would ever go back to how it/I was before? In fact, that happens with many facets of my life.
Why would I ever go back to a school that gave grades and pushed a competitive learning environment?
Why would I ever go back to a life without barbershop music?
Why would I ever go back to being involved in a newspaper that wasn’t by and for the people?
It’s so important. I realized this when the EIC was working on launching the website today. Before, I had been rather caught up in how the site would look, and how it would function, blah blah blah, just so that people would want to look at it and come back to it and become a member of the site, etc. But now, I want it to look very rustic and work-in-progress-like, so that people will instead come up to us and say something like, “btw, that website of yours… uh… sucks.” Then, I will be able to tell them [quite honestly, mind you], “I’m so glad you think so! We would love to have your expertise, or at least some input about it!”
Does that sound dorky? Because I think it sounds really exciting.