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The Tower Light needs student appre­ci­ation and funding. | Instagram @haleyraehauprich

As the end of the semester nears, the Student Fed­er­ation begins reviewing budgets for student groups and dis­cussing how they will allocate their money for the next school year. One budget the Fed­er­ation often has con­cerns about is the Tower Light, Hillsdale’s student-edited lit­erary mag­azine. Stu­dents may have heard about the size of the Tower Light’s budget and whether or not the pub­li­cation ought to have the budget it does. As its editor-in-chief, I want to justify this budget and hope­fully assuage stu­dents’ con­cerns about the Tower Light.

The Tower Light’s annual budget is $11,000. This money is divided into com­pen­sation for its editors-in-chief (one per semester) and its designer, a small amount for work­shops and our reading at the rest of the semester, and the rest goes to printing costs. I can under­stand why stu­dents may be con­cerned about how much money goes to the Tower Light and its printing costs, but there are several reasons why this is the way it is.

First, the Tower Light actually prints a few number of copies. The student handbook tech­ni­cally asks that there be a Tower Light copy available for every student, since part of every student’s fees goes to pub­li­ca­tions. The Tower Light rec­og­nized, however, that not every student ends up reading the pub­li­cation, so we have lowered our printing to 700 copies after observing how many copies are picked up at the end of the semester.

This accom­mo­dation has allowed us to lower our budget, but it marks around the bare minimum of what we can print. As anyone with expe­rience in pub­lishing can tell you, the more you print, the better a deal you can get. Addi­tionally, printers will not print low volumes of product because it is not worth their effort finan­cially. If the Tower Light were to print less copies in an effort to reduce our budget, it would make more work for the printer and likely not save money at all in the long run.

Another element is the Tower Light’s rela­tionship with our printer. As a Hillsdale alumnus and a sup­porter of the pub­li­cation, our printer already cuts the Tower Light a massive deal to meet us at our budget while still cre­ating a high-quality product. To achieve the same product with any other printer would cost between $1,000 and $2,000 more. A recent vis­iting writer saw a copy of the Tower Light and was extremely impressed with its quality and design, remarking that it was done better than many pro­fes­sional lit­erary pub­li­ca­tions. We would like to keep cre­ating mag­a­zines of this quality at an already reduced price.

Despite these jus­ti­fi­ca­tions, some stu­dents may still argue that the Tower Light does not need this budget because few stu­dents on campus read the pub­li­cation. But this does not justify the shut­tering of the Tower Light; rather, it sug­gests that stu­dents’ outlook on the pub­li­cation should change, because it actually pro­vides valuable oppor­tu­nities for Hillsdale stu­dents.

First, it gives the editors and designer real expe­rience in the world of editing and pub­lishing, which is incredibly valuable for potential careers in the field. Second, it allows stu­dents who send in sub­mis­sions to receive valuable feedback to become better writers. And most impor­tantly, the Tower Light pro­vides a platform for stu­dents to share their artistic work with the rest of campus.

Liberal edu­cation aims to cul­tivate within its stu­dents a love for what is true, good, and beau­tiful. While our classes teach us what is true, clubs and orga­ni­za­tions on campus foster goodness through col­le­giality and lead­ership, and many of these are gladly sup­ported by the Student Fed­er­ation. The Tower Light pro­vides a unique oppor­tunity for stu­dents to appre­ciate the third com­ponent, beauty, and to cel­e­brate their fellow stu­dents’ talents and hard work. So the next time you see a copy of the Tower Light lying around the union or the library, pick it up. It’s beau­tiful.

  • Jen­nifer Melfi

    good argu­ments. You need to keep a lit­erary journal on campus.

  • Camus53

    Hmmm.…a salary payment for editors and such! Times have indeed changed as I earned no such gra­tuity during my stay in office as keeper of the light.

    One would think that TL would by now be an on line publication…an open forum for stu­dents to express their written words other than on all the other internet based social net­works. There are endless examples on the web of com­munity based lit­erary sites.

    What drew my attention most is the thought that the first pri­ority of TL ( as listed by article author) is to provide work training for its staff. Oh really? Pub­lishing is all but dead and the real world of words, thoughts, pic­tures and art lives on line not on paper. When did the first mission of TL morph to become a student funded job and training for its staff?

    And then this beauty stuff? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and cer­tainly in the eye of its creator. Must TL be deemed “beau­tiful” to be mean­ingful these days?

    Oh, and some­where in between is a passing mention of student expression, though I dare say expression heavily edited, redacted and fil­tered by the “paid staff”.

    TL, if it truly wants to survive… more impor­tantly if it truly wants to provide stu­dents voice and outlet for expression… needs to move on…needs to embrace the new world of all things written, pic­tured, drawn and painted…needs to find its own voice in the new world…needs to provide open web pages to stu­dents to express them­selves… or find itself another self indulgent pretty thing sitting on a shelf gath­ering dust.