A Letter from a Former Siskiyou Writer

To help us in our effort to #SaveTheSiskiyou please donate at: https://www.gofundme.com/vcxzcz8k

After it was revealed last week that The Siskiyou would no longer be supported by the SOU communication department, we reached out to some former writers to share how they felt on the issue and what this paper means to them.

 

When I arrived at Southern Oregon University more than two decades ago, my plan was to study hard and find my dream job. I didn’t study at all, did drugs, and dropped out four years later, but I still found my dream job. So the moral of the story, folks, is to … hold on, let me start over.

I do have my dream job. I wake up and read about baseball. Then I write about baseball. Later, I’ll watch baseball. Then, I’ll go to sleep, wake up, and read about baseball. It’s quite literally the career I would have picked before I went to school. And it wouldn’t have happened without the Siskiyou.

I covered Raiders basketball for two seasons, and it pushed me out of my comfort zone. I wrote features on students and student athletes, forcing me to write from different perspectives. I had the freedom to pursue goofy opinion columns. And I was hit with a blast of endorphins whenever there was a positive response to one of my articles.

It all made me realize that I wanted to write for a living. Which is what I’m doing now.

That’s one of the reasons I’m sick to my stomach at the thought of the Siskiyou going away. It was such a huge piece of my life, and I don’t know what I would have done without it. I went to college to learn. The Siskiyou helped teach me.

There’s more to the story than that, though. The worst part of the Siskiyou shutting its doors isn’t that future SOU students won’t have the same chance to get blindingly lucky, like I did. The worst part hits me as a SOU alumnus, regardless of my major. Let’s just think about what a university without a newspaper is.

Oregon State has a newspaper. So does U of O. Reed has a newspaper. Willamette has a newspaper. Portland State has a newspaper, and so does Lewis & Clark. How do I know this? To be honest, I didn’t look it up. But I know this because of course they freaking have newspapers. They’re universities. Universities have newspapers. Community colleges have newspapers. High schools have newspapers. They’re vital to the sense of community that a school should have. They’re training grounds for the journalists of tomorrow, forums for the students of today.

If the Siskiyou goes away, I can see myself being asked about the place I went to school. “What kind of school was it? Was it a big school? A small school? What?”

And after pausing to pretend I’m being thoughtful, I’ll respond, “It’s the kind of school that doesn’t even have a newspaper.”

That sentence lets you know exactly what kind of school it is. That would be a half-assed school. Every university has a newspaper. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about an actual ink-and-paper version or solely a website, they all have newspapers. Saying it’s the kind of school without a newspaper is the same thing as saying it’s a school without restrooms, try down the street.

That’s what a school without a newspaper would look like to an alumnus, and it’s not good. But it would look even worse to a prospective student. Times are tough for public universities, I get it. When crossing off line items in the budget, though, there has to be some consideration of appearances. There’s no mistaking what it looks like when a university can’t invest in a newspaper.

That’s even before you get to the idea of need, before you realize that students should have the opportunity to be aware of what’s going on at their school. It shouldn’t be mandatory to read the paper when you’re a student, but the option to read it — news about your community, written in the voice of a peer — is absolutely essential.

That’s before you get to the idea that a real university should offer the option to write for a newspaper and gain experience that will be applicable in real life, regardless of profession.

It’s why real university have student-run newspapers. I was proud to go to SOU because I consider it a real university. Please don’t make me use the past tense.

Keep SOU a real university. Keep the Siskiyou alive.

Grant Brisbee attended SOU from 1994-1999. He now is a sports writer in the Bay Area who covers the San Francisco Giants.  His articles on Major League Baseball have been nationally read and recognized.

To help us in our effort to #SaveTheSiskiyou please donate at: https://www.gofundme.com/vcxzcz8k

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