The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Students and faculty speak: In defense of print on campus

From left: Alyvia Bunkowski `26 and Cadence Chen `26 with The S&B in the Humanities and Social Studies Center.

This week, S&B Staff Writer Evelyn Wilber `26 asked students and faculty what they value about Student Publications and Radio Committee (SPARC) print publications, which include The S&B, GOGUE, the B&S, Grinnell Review, Press, Sequence Magazine and Grinnell Underground Magazine (GUM). 


Alyvia Bunkowski `26 is a self-proclaimed fan of The S&B, especially the back page. “I like seeing the people … that I know in [the S&B], and then the stories written by the people I know. In a small space like Grinnell College, it’s just really cool to see that community from a newspaper … like, this is 2024 and we’re still reading newspapers, which I think is so cool.” 

Cadence Chen `26 calls herself “a huge S&B fan.”

“I love that we’re able to have something that we can touch,” said Chen. When asked what she thought the importance of student journalism is, she said, “I think that it not only helps students become better writers, and like, be able to interact with their communities in a more meaningful way, and also foster those connections between students who just read the newspaper.” 

Medhasree Adhikari `26 reported that she most often reads GOGUE and GUM, while also reading The S&B from time to time. She said that she values GOGUE because it provides everyone at the College an outlet for their creativity.  “So, there’s individuality, but [GOGUE] comes together in a community fashion,” she said. “And then with The S&B I feel like it has … sometimes very nuanced information and opinions. And I think that’s important right now, especially because everything is so polarized.” When asked how she would feel if SPARC no longer published print editions, she said, “I’d be sad, I don’t know … because everything is digital. But I like how we have something tangible and physical that is in front of us.” She said that when she was featured in GOGUE her first year, she liked being able to take the print version home to show her mom. 

“In general, I support student journalism,” said Scott Lee `26. “And I think it’s a great way to actually understand what’s happening on campus and see what people are thinking, doing, etc. Gogue, I think it’s a very creative outlet for fashion at the school. And I think people like to express themselves in which they dress, and I feel like that’s a great way to sort of get yourself out there in that respect.” When asked what he thought about the print issue, he said, “Let’s say, I am generally in favor of more electronic features, which [The S&B] does have, just purely I would say for environmental reasons. But I think I also do see the benefit of just having physical, I feel like that’s just very trademark.” 

Grace Kurtz `25 said that she reads The S&B and other SPARC publications occasionally, like when she knows someone in the article, or someone points a specific article to her. “This morning, I was sitting in Noyce when they put The S&B down, so I did read it because it was right in front of me,” she added. “I mean, I guess all [SPARC publications] are probably a good outlet for creativity,” she said. She said that she sees value in The S&B connecting students to the Grinnell community outside of the college. “I think a lot of people talk about not really being in touch with the community and there’s kind of a tense relationship — or maybe not, but from my understanding. And so, it seems like a good way to understand your community more, and then also you’re learning while you’re doing it.” 

In an email to The S&B, Sarah Purcell, professor of history, wrote, “These publications, but especially The S&B, mark a very long-standing and important part of the record of life at Grinnell College.  We can look back upon decades and decades of issues at the college and beyond (everything from student life, to academics, to responses to national politics) from the campus perspective because of The S&B.  There are a surprising number of significant issues in college and town history that we would have a lot of trouble filling in the gaps about without The S&B coverage. Across time, as today, The S&B represents student outlook more than anything else, but it’s also a vital source of news about campus, in general.” Regarding no longer having a print issue of SPARC publications, she wrote, “There is no digital format at present whose sustainability is guaranteed, so I hope print editions can continue (even if their numbers become smaller).  It’s pretty vital for future records and historians of campus.” 

Timothy Dobe, professor of religious studies, stated that he reads The S&B about every other issue, but that he also makes sure to look out for the B&S. “I think as professors we, at least I, feel often at a … remove from how students are thinking and what’s really important to everybody.” He says that although he does not want to conflate The S&B with the opinions of the student body, it serves as a window into student life beyond what administration tells faculty about events on campus. When asked about SPARC no longer printing, he said, “I think your digital access becomes kind of a gatekeeper and so it reduces that sense of exposure, and just, the news as part of culture. So, I think that would be a loss to the culture of Grinnell.” 

Kelly Maynard, professor of European studies, said she is a huge fan of GOGUE. “First of all, you know, it’s beautifully designed, the images are great, super inclusive,” they said. She also said, “As someone who lives in Iowa rather than goes to school in Iowa and is temporarily here from elsewhere, I think it has a really positive vibe about what is distinct about being here without being sort of negative, if that makes sense.” Of The S&B, Maynard said, “I think its strengths are, one, we faculty, I guess, get a particular angle on a lot of institutional news, through the administration, through the usual channels, through the official public facing-ness of the College, and The S&B is a really good counterpart slash antidote to that, depending on the subject.” She said that although a lot of the content and skill gain The S&B provides would not change if it was entirely online, the experience of reading it would suffer. “So, insofar as reading The S&B is about the pictures, and the ideas, and the getting a little bit gritty on your hands and having to flip to page six to change the rest — that whole experience changes the way I think about what I’m reading.” 


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About the Contributors
Evelyn Wilber
Evelyn Wilber, Staff Writer
Evelyn is a second year intended English and math double major from Chicago, Illinois. She enjoys reading, watching movies, listening to music, her dog Ted, and the season of winter.
Marc Duebener
Marc Duebener, Staff Photographer
Marc Duebener is a first-year chemistry and economics major with a concentration in science, medicine and society. He says he is from Chicago, Illinois but really lives in the suburbs. On campus you can find Marc shooting sporting events and documentaries, studying in Noyce, or hitting the gym.
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    Ethan HughesApr 23, 2024 at 6:17 pm

    I can say I am an occasional reader of the S&B and Usually the only time I pick it up is in between classes when I see a paper sitting out. Speeding from experience from the B&S getting people to read online and actually find your site is very hard and puts a greater burden on students to seek that resource out. When you can hand out papers or just pick one up from a table in the JRC it makes the barrier of entry much smaller for students and makes a much larger readership and cultural impact on campus. I really hope this short sighted decision gets reversed and SPARK is allowed to publish.