An open letter to the students and faculty of Georgia Southwestern State University

Dear Students and Faculty:

Recently, I had the opportunity to see the current state of GSW’s student newspaper, The Sou’Wester.  While I understand today’s college students are highly distracted by the technological, academic, and social demands of our society, seeing the publication which helped bring so much change to GSW and change my own life is, to say the least, saddening.

A student newspaper is meant as a forum for an exchange of ideas, but it’s so much more than that.  It is a place in which the powerful of the campus and community that university shares can be held accountable.  It is a place in which those who achieve can be celebrated, and where joy can be shared.  Whether it is a Student Government member being called out for misappropriation, a faculty member being congratulated for establishing a new program of study, or a student organization’s efforts to raise awareness for cause being given the attention it deserves, a student newspaper is a vital asset which must not be allowed to wither on the academic vine.

Over twenty years ago, The Sou’Wester was a proving ground for writers, artists, managers, leaders, just about any student.  It was also the place those who had no other place on GSW’s campus could come and find acceptance, camaraderie, and the sort of determination to change the world for the better we now seem to only find in fiction and television series.  It was a place where dreamers, thinkers, makers and doers all came together, worked together, and made the impossible happen.  In short, it was the soul of Georgia Southwestern, and that soul burned bright.  Yes, we won awards, but it would have been for nothing had we not pursued our mission – to inform, educate and entertain the staff, students, and faculty at GSW.  We did all three, and rather frequently.

Today, The Sou’Wester has the opportunity to do that again.

There was a brief flicker of that soul a few years ago, only to see it dim yet again.  For the sake of our university, I am asking whoever happens to become the next Editor to look at the issues found in bound form in the Rare Books Room of the James Earl Carter Library.  Read the pages, look at where GSW once was, where it is now, and think of what it could be.  Then, I simply ask you to honor the work of those once stood there, those who once led it, and allow this newspaper to become again what it once was – a place for dreamers, doers, thinkers and makers.  A place where all can come and throw their ideas in the mix, and where a well-produced, well-run student organization can both foster a safe environment for those who can’t fit in anywhere else, and create tomorrow’s leaders.  GSW deserves nothing less than a strong, vibrant, weekly newspaper, both in print and online.

It has been done before, so I know it can be done again.

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