“Vol. 1, No. 1! … Our Alma Mater has never had a regular periodical, but that is no reason why she should not have one,” wrote an enterprising group of young men at a small college on the east end of Allentown. “We enter upon with the firm conviction that a publication of this description will supply a long-felt want, and that it can be of perpetual benefit to our college.”
Of course, the ‘alma mater’ in question in the above 1883 article is Muhlenberg and the publication none other than The Muhlenberg Weekly (at that point in time it was officially known as the “Muhlenberg Monthly”). There have certainly been many changes since 1883 — including a relocation to the present-day home in Allentown’s west end, 11 presidents, and the introduction of co-education — but one constant remains: The Muhlenberg Weekly.
The truth is that student newsrooms — including ours — have long been a reliable, hyper-local news source, covering issues that would otherwise go unaddressed. We take pride in being among the official voices of the student body and serving as the official paper-of-record for our campus. Sure, there have been some bumps along the way, but all things considered, The Weekly stands stronger now than it has in decades.
However, the same cannot be said for student newsrooms elsewhere in the country.
Recently, The Daily Campus, Southern Methodist University’s student paper, was forced to re-affiliate with the university due to lack of funding. Unfortunately, The Daily Campus is hardly the only student-run publication to face such a decision to either grasp a lifeline and risk editorial independence or shut down. Out of The Daily Campus’ plight came a call to action from the leadership of The Independent Florida Alligator, who have brought together more than 100 student newsrooms for a day of action on Wednesday, April 25, and have asked writers to do what they do best — write.
To be sure, we write this editorial very much from a place of privilege — thankfully, this editorial is not a fundraising plea. We are fortunate to be financially supported almost exclusively by student funds that are allocated to us by the Student Government Association. Though we’ve certainly had our quibbles with SGA in the past, we are grateful that they continue to value the role of student journalism at Muhlenberg.
But for a college that no longer has a journalism major, the majority of us will leave our newsroom having ended our career in journalism. So why do we do it? Sure, we do it for the fun on lengthy Tuesday production nights, for the camaraderie, for the development of valuable post-graduate skills. But above all, we do it to serve the greater Muhlenberg community.
To echo our predecessors from over a century ago: We do it because we believe that The Muhlenberg Weekly can be of perpetual benefit to the college.