What you hold in your hands or see on your screen is the last issue of The Defender that will ever be produced within the walls of the Bergeron Education Center.
“That random building by the tennis courts” houses the media studies, journalism and digital arts (MJD) department, and churns out campus news, documentaries, websites, books and well-trained media professionals, products of the blood, sweat and (mostly) tears of MJD students and professors.
This final Bergeron issue, as the building will evolve next year into the new much-needed Wellness Center, is somewhat of a historic moment.
But it is also, for those on the inside, very sad.
I remember my first moments in Bergeron like they were yesterday: a shy first-year, I was assigned to the MJD department for my work-study. I was sitting at a table in Bergeron 114 – where I would later spend much more time for The Defender lab – reading “We the Living” by Ayn Rand.
At some point, realizing my supervisor would not show up for at least a little while, Professor Jerry Swope fetched me from the lab to teach me how to photocopy and show me where the mailroom key was kept so I could go to the post office, two of my principal tasks as a work-study.
I still haven’t finished “We the Living”; hell, I haven’t even made it through the first chapter.
But I have learned how to bring out my own voice in articles; that I should always keep in mind my personal ethics; that I should get outside from time to time, though most of my work requires a computer screen; that my citizenship entitles me to information; that I should do my best to “dial in” on a topic, no matter how broad the focus may seem; that when it comes to design, “just because I can, doesn’t mean I should”; and that reporters should do their best to take readers to the story, and “comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable.”
This is just a sampling of the life and career lessons my fellow MJD majors and I have learned from our professors who have supported us, challenged us and laughed with us on a daily basis during our time at St. Michael’s.
As I sit in Bergeron finishing this editorial, I am surrounded by MJD students putting the final touches on their country websites for the Global Communication and Culture class. Friends laugh and freak out together, Jerome Allen (our IT guru) helps someone figure out Dreamweaver and others are simply in the zone.
Everyone is getting exactly what they need out of the space.
I would be lying if I said the administration’s decision to relocate the MJD department to Jeanmarie Hall basement didn’t both anger and sadden me as one of many students who has flourished in this program.
But what gives me hope that this collaborative dynamic can be recreated and maintained is the determination the MJD students have to achieve success, and the commitment our professors have to ensuring we are equipped with the tools and mindsets necessary to accomplish what we set out to do.
The MJD professors are a truly unique group of educators who have set up an all-encompassing program focused on cultivating the whole student with skills to succeed in whatever medium they choose to pursue.
While it saddens me to see their office walls go bare in preparation for the move, I look forward to the new projects and talent that will inevitably emerge from one of the only places I find “community” at St. Michael’s.
Thank you Traci Griffith, Jerry Swope, Jon Hyde, Kimberly Sultze, Allison Cleary, Mike Donoghue, David Mindich and Jerome Allen for making my experience at this school worthwhile, for all that you have done for me and will continue to do.
By Cara Chapman