An update on student media and UA Global's upcoming relocations
Arizona Student Media has relocated to the third floor of the University Services Building, as UA Global begins the process of moving into AZSM’s longtime home of Park Student Union.
The move was not without controversy. In an April 2 letter addressed to UA President Dr. Robert C. Robbins, student media leaders wrote that they were “deeply concerned that no suitable or comparable space has been identified for us and that the consequences — unintentional though they may be — could have a damaging impact on the student press and student media on our campus.”
At that time, the option to move student media to the third floor of USB, where UA Global is currently located, had not been discussed with students, though the plan had been discussed among administrators as early as January.
“We reached out to leadership at Arizona Student Media and felt there was conversation happening,” said Brent White, director of UA Global. “Obviously, we could have done better … I know we could have done a better job at engaging students from the very beginning.”
In the letter, student media leaders — Jasmine Demers (Editor-in-Chief, The Daily Wildcat), Olivia Jackson (General Manager, UATV), and Robert Leano (General Manager, KAMP Student Radio) — expressed they felt they were an “afterthought.”
“While we accept that we have to move, we refuse to be treated as though we don’t matter,” the letter said.
Student media alumnae also expressed their concern. Bethany Barnes, a UA graduate and reporter at the Tampa Bay Times, wrote on Twitter:
“Dismayed to learn @UofA is kicking the student newspaper (@dailywildcat) out of its newsroom with no plan for where it will go — and without student input. It's essential student media have a space that will allow it to continue its important work. #SaveStudentNewsrooms.”
Fellow alum and Reno Gazette-Journal reporter Sam Grossman tweeted:
“The kicker in all this is that less than a year ago UA Student Media spent a good chunk of change to move KAMP into the @dailywildcat newsroom after the radio station got booted from its space across the courtyard. Shows how little forethought @UofA has given this.”
White said there was never any intention to disregard the needs of student media.
“Hearing a move was coming up and not knowing what the options were, I think that was causing a lot of concern. And so there was never, ever any intent of moving Arizona Student Media without finding space that was suitable and desirable for Arizona Student Media,” White said.
“But I think there could have been a better job of communicating that very clearly,” White continued. “To say, ‘We’re looking for spaces. No move will happen until we find a space that Arizona Student Media is happy with. Give us some time to find it.’ So I think what happened was we thought that message had been communicated … and I don’t think it was communicated as clearly as it should have been.”
Brett Fera, director of Arizona Student Media, said while the impact of the move may not have been fully considered, he does not believe the university was trying to minimize the role of student media on campus.
“For a little while, there was an idea that the university was trying to stifle student media and student speech. I don’t believe that was the case for a second,” Fera said. “I think collectively there might have been a belief that, well, it’s offices — we’ll pick up the offices and put them in another nice place and move on. The problem was it didn’t take into account the culture of what student media has built for itself.”
Now that a destination has been decided upon, however, Fera and newly-minted Editor-in-Chief Nicholas Trujillo say that they are looking forward to the opportunity the new location offers.
They lost square footage, Trujillo said, but the new location presents an opportunity to reshape the culture of student media.
“It’s not just the space, I think it’s the culture that’s been practiced,” Trujillo said. “I think with the new space comes the opportunity to make a new culture, to create a more inclusive space. It’s not the space that’s doing it, but it’s the move itself that is allowing us to start a new culture.”
It isn’t only about moving what they have into a new space, it’s about having the flexibility with it, to evolve into "what a 21st century student media organization needs to be," Fera said.
“If two years from now we realize certain pivots are needed — if a month from now we realize certain pivots are needed — we can do that,” Fera said.
For UA Global, the move is the first part of enacting their vision to internationalize the university. The move will centralize services such as International Student Services, International Faculty & Scholars, International Admissions, Study Abroad, and UA Passports.
With the new location, UA Global will have a storefront and increase their visibility. One of the highlights of their new location will be an international food court offering authentic cuisine from around the world on the second floor of PSU.
“The goal is to internationalize the University of Arizona,” White said. “So more international students here, and more of our students studying abroad — and also more interaction between international students and domestic students.”
The first phase of the move will be relocating international services and is projected to be completed by the end of Fall 2019. The second phase, which involves updating the food court and outdoor courtyard, will begin in the summer of 2020.
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