The College of San Mateo has canceled all journalism classes that support the college newspaper for the fall semester, leaving the fate of the well-regarded student publication up in the air, the Palo Alto Daily Post reported today (Aug. 15). The following is from the Post’s report:
Students with the paper have clashed with the administration previously over the future of the classes and over what they say were its attempts to control some of the paper’s reporting.
- Journalism professor Ed Remitz said he was “disappointed and puzzled” at the college’s decision, which he learned about on Monday. …
- College President Michael Claire told the Post last night that all four classes lacked sufficient enrollment. The college wanted each class to have around 20 students, and they weren’t remotely close, he said.
- Remitz acknowledged that underenrollment has been a chronic problem. He said that in the 23 years he’s taught at the school, he’s never seen 20 students enroll in any one of those classes. …
- But he said the program which produces The San Matean student newspaper has been extremely successful, earning a slew of awards — including one from the Society of Professional Journalists that papers from two-year schools almost never win.
- “We have very high standards and are involved in very serious competitions,” he said.
- He said The San Matean is produced on an unusually low budget for a community college newspaper — $4,600 compared to $16,000 for the typical community college paper.
- The college has produced The San Matean since 1928.
- Claire, the college president, said the canceling of the classes did not necessarily mean axing the paper. He said students could form a club and run The San Matean. He also said students will be offered the journalism classes at Skyline College as an alternative.
- Claire said the college has lost 22% of its now $28 million budget over the past four years, making hard choices inevitable. Other classes have also been cut for low enrollment, he said.
- “I kind of saw it coming,” said Kayla Figard, who was executive editor of the paper last year.
- She said the administration had issues with the way the paper reported some budget cuts at the school, which led to some tense meetings between the student editors and some administrators.
- Claire disagreed, characterizing one of those meetings as officials offering the students friendly advice.
- “I think they saw that they had a good reason to cut the program now because (of the low enrollment),” Figard said. “It’s really disappointing.”
- She said she’d been contacted by people who saw her articles and then wanted to take the journalism classes and write for the newspaper.
- “People really wanted to take that class,” she said. “They wanted to get that experience they won’t get anywhere else.”
(The San Matean’s faculty adviser is Ed Remitz, who is a member of the Press Club’s board.)