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

Without imme­diate action, the Tower Light as we know it will become a thing of the past.

For nearly 65 years, the Tower Light has served as a beacon for cre­ative writing and visual art on campus. What began as a sup­plement to The Col­legian in 1955, the Tower Light became a stand­alone pub­li­cation the next year. Since then, it has con­tinued to grow and improve in quality, becoming the pro­fes­sional, beau­tiful pub­li­cation that stu­dents rec­ognize on campus today.

Last spring, the Student Fed­er­ation voted to cut the Tower Light’s budget in half. It argued that not enough stu­dents read the pub­li­cation to justify its budget of $5,500 per semester, $4,500 of which goes directly to printing costs.

Against the advice of the publication’s advisor, Maria Servold, a faculty member who has managed student pub­li­ca­tions for eight years, members of Student Fed decided to cut the budget, chal­lenging the Tower Light to print more cheaply, and, at the same time, increase out­reach and student interest.

As editor-in-chief this semester, I have been told by the fed­er­ation my respon­si­bility is to make the pub­li­cation more appealing to stu­dents — with half the budget. As it stands, the Tower Light will be printed on folded, stapled card­stock, rather than the glue binding and high-quality paper that lit­erary mag­a­zines at top-tier uni­ver­sities use, and that we have used for years, with advice from the college’s external affairs department.

We, at the Tower Light, have done our utmost to improve out­reach since our budget was cut in May, in line with what Student Fed requested of us.

We began an Instagram account this summer to reach out to incoming stu­dents and those who might miss our announce­ments over email. We’ve begun once more to hang posters around campus with sub­mission infor­mation, and we’ll be bringing back the tra­dition of an open writers workshop in October.

We’re con­tinuing with greater emphasis our tra­dition of meeting with writers to help them grow. As we have for the past decade, we discuss works anony­mously in meetings so that every writer who submits is regarded equally. We’ve returned to our prin­ciples and asked how we can become more approachable and acces­sible to stu­dents while ful­filling our purpose, and we’ve taken action accord­ingly. We’ve seen promising results, with a rise in sub­mis­sions and new con­trib­utors.

On Thursday, Sep­tember 12, some members of Student Fed chal­lenged the decision to cut funding. After finding an inflated emer­gency fund con­taining a pre­vi­ously unknown about $41,000 in it over the summer — only $10,000 of which are nec­essary, by the federation’s own rules, to keep — it now has an extra $31,000 to allocate beyond its regular budget of $100,000 for the 2019 – 2020 school year, Director of Student Activ­ities Alexandra Whitford said.

The finance com­mittee moved to give the Tower Light $5,000, but the pub­li­ca­tions com­mittee stood against it. It’s the respon­si­bility of the finance com­mittee to dis­pense funds wisely for the benefit of stu­dents, and the respon­si­bility of the pub­li­ca­tions com­mittee to support and improve student pub­li­ca­tions.

While it’s important that Student Fed funds campus improve­ments, like new benches and a new pool table, it is also respon­sible to uphold that part of its con­sti­tution that stip­u­lates it fund the Tower Light. It has the money and the ability to restore the Tower Light to a pub­li­cation that rep­re­sents the excel­lence of Hillsdale College, and yet it refuses to do so.

Student Fed­er­ation Pres­ident and senior James Milius said he wants the Tower Light to succeed.

“While the Fed­er­ation and I have not always seen eye-to-eye on how to go about funding these pub­li­ca­tions, I know that we all have the same goal,” he said. “I will con­tinue working to find solu­tions to help the Tower Light produce an excellent edition this semester, and will work to help secure its place on Hillsdale’s campus for the future.”

Several members of Student Fed have asked if a glue binding is worth it. They wonder whether it makes a dif­ference how the Tower Light is held together. They have indi­cated that the words inside would be the same.

As important as these points may be, they ignore the statement implicit in a high-quality printing: when we print a high-quality Tower Light, we produce some­thing that could stand alongside pub­li­ca­tions of top-tier uni­ver­sities.

Hillsdale claims to offer an edu­cation equal to or better than any other college in the country. Our student pub­li­ca­tions ought to show it.

When we print a high-quality product, we show that we pri­or­itize the arts and respect student cre­ativity. We agree that we are here to pursue truth, and that envi­ronment encourages us to con­tem­plate goodness — perhaps most explicitly when Pres­ident Larry Arnn asks, “What is the good?” But our studies here will be incom­plete if we turn away from beauty.

The Tower Light is beau­tiful. It con­tains graceful words and images. But if we are unwilling to frame these words and images in equally elegant mate­rials, does it look like we really believe in them?

Assistant Pro­fessor of English Benedict Whalen said he often uses the Tower Light as an example of how the arts flourish at Hillsdale. When he speaks to prospective stu­dents con­cerned by one-sided stereo­types of the school, he brings out old copies of our lit­erary journal to show them that we can and do come together to create works of great beauty, as well as studying them.

“Tower Light is an excellent, beau­tiful pub­li­cation,” he said. “It is valuable as a forum for our stu­dents to share their devotion to the finer things.”

The Tower Light is worth pre­serving. Your cre­ative voice is worth sharing with the world, and sharing in a way that is rich and mean­ingful.

I encourage you to stand up to Student Fed and chal­lenge it to fulfill its respon­si­bility with higher prin­ciples in mind. I encourage you to submit pieces to the Tower Light, embracing the joy and vul­ner­a­bility of art.

Most of all, I encourage you to seek beauty alongside your pursuit of truth and goodness, and where you find it, to give the lovely things their due.

Mary Kate Boyle is a senior studying English and French and is the editor-in-chief of the Tower Light.