Final letter from the editor, ’13-’14

Published in the June ’14 Circuit.

by Casey Jaywork | Editor in Chief

The end is nigh.

Not for the world – that’ll take at least a few more decades of pollution, war, and capital. But for this year’s Circuit and the staff that brought it to you, time has run out. This is our last issue for the 2013-’14 school year.

Did we accomplish anything? With $50k of students’ money, did we leave the school better than we found it?

Yes. We’ve brought serious journalism back to Seattle Central, transforming the student magazine from a hobby into an advocate – from a student-funded brochure for the college into a bona fide news source. We’ve created a space for critical discussion of social issues, including wealth, governance, race, and gender. We’ve defined student press as a tool for student democracy, demanding that college administrators be held accountable to students for their actions and that students make themselves worthy of such accountability. We’ve challenged the top-down, budget oriented, corporate model of education which is gradually turning our school into a for-profit institution. Above all, we’ve refused to treat our readers as customers: you are citizens, and you should damn well act like it.

Our obsession with hard news and sharp critique has earned the Circuit accolades. We were judged by the Society of Professional Journalists to be one of the three best college magazines within the Washington-Oregon-Idaho-Montana region. In that same contest, Diana Gener’s “Fired for a cookie?” (which covered SCCC student Carlos Hernandez’s labor organizing efforts) was one of three finalists for Best Non-Fiction Magazine Article. (FYI, those awards were based only on our first issue. Later issues will be eligible in next year’s contest.) In addition, three out of four of the finalists in the League for Innovation’s personal essay contest for this region were Circuit staff. Mohamed Adan and I received Honorable Mentions, while Caitlin Sussman’s horrific and sublime “Rape culture: a timeline” placed second nationally.

But we’ve also failed. When district administrators removed “Community” from our name, we failed to stop them. When we reported on the unconscionable termination of the former student newspaper, The City Collegian, we failed to mobilize students or convince administrators of the need to protect student press. Faced with an anemic and cultish student government, we failed to inspire reform. Confronting a harried and apathetic student body, we failed to motivate mass student engagement, failed to spark a democratic movement to take back our school.

And it’s these failures of which I’m most proud. We failed well, instead of succeeding poorly. We tried to do what was right, not just what was feasible. Eschewing safe options, we set our sights imprudently high. We screwed up early and often, but—because we are journalists, not just students playing at journalism—we never put out an issue that wasted our readers’ time. We ran ourselves into the ground. We’ve abandoned classwork, sacrificed relationships, endured nervous breakdowns, courted addiction, skipped meals and sleep. And it was all for you, the students: not to give you what you want, but to push you toward what you could be if you but summoned the collective courage.

Whether our work will sustain into next year and beyond is an open question. It is difficult to imagine a more competent core staff than Josh Kelety, Mohamed Adan, Amber Lyons, Reuven Pinnata, and Katherine Morgan. But they may also face larger obstacles than we did this year, considering the controversial work we’ve done and the history of student press at Seattle Central.

This final issue includes a collection of creative works by students, including poetry by Alex McMahon, Rigor Facun, and Michael J. Roderick, Jr.; fiction by Caitlin R. Campbell; artwork by Lalita Thardomrong; and photography by Lou Daprile, Xiaochen Sun and Olesya Gonta. We also feature some soul-search-inducing personal essays on identity and racism from Katherine Morgan and Tim Loya, Poor In Seattle advice from Amber Lyons, a recipe from Brenna Richart, #YesAllWoman coverage from Caitlin Sussman, and coverage of Khan Academy and celebratory racism from Mohamed Adan. In addition, Diana Gener unpacks the Orwellian implications of binary thinking; Emer Dalton, Peiyuan Xu and Jason Thornberry chime in on school age, bought access and dehumanizing technology, respectively; Ty Pethe calls for your aid; and Josh Kelety brings us up to speed on Socialist Alternative’s political maneuverings. Oh, and Reuven Pinnata eviscerates your favorite book.

It’s customary for public servants like myself, when retiring, to bloviate about what an “honor” it has been to serve the public. But actual service means telling hard truths, so here are mine:

You reap what you sow.

If you lie down, you will get walked over.

If you do not organize, you will lose your school.

Good luck. You’re going to need it.

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