An Homage to a Lost Department

Since eighth grade, I had looked forward to attending college to grow academically, spiritually and emotionally. Once the time came to finalize my decision, it was clear that John Brown University was the best option for me. I was promised a diploma in whichever field of study I wanted to pursue here. I originally declared elementary education, switched to digital cinema after one semester and finally declared communication as my major. I was finally following the path I believe God created for me.          

Nestled in the  Learning Resource Center, students pass by the open doors without so much as a glance in our direction. The lack of care or interest is palpable. We do not ask for anything more than what we have. We are and can be content for the near foreseeable future as we are. We only request and require our small place at JBU’s table.

The administration’s desire to cut our department breeds a million questions. What do we have that is too much for us to hope to maintain? We have a supply room that is little more than a walk-in closet which abuts the end of the LRC. We have the headquarters of The Threefold Advocate, thrust into a room smaller than Simmons A. We have our long hallway, which hosts the majority of our cell-sized rooms, most of which are packed with as much equipment as possible. The remaining rooms of the hallway are arguably the smallest faculty offices on campus.

Lastly, we have the TV Studio, LRC 119, our greatest joy to possess. It includes a floor with scratches and scuffs. It includes chairs without desks. It includes old ripped and wobbly stools. It includes an air unit that shrieks incessantly in our ears. It includes odds and ends which we graciously accept.

I would not change one thing  in my department for my own sake. When I  became a communication major, I had found this department to be far more welcoming than my previous majors. Despite the many problems left unaddressed by JBU’s leadership, it is my place to be exactly who I am in Christ to the greatest degree that JBU can provide me.

What unaddressed problems am I referring to? Not the broken, unwanted, minimalist infrastructure. I am referring to the neglect of the department itself. We have only one official professor in our department. She advises all communication students, teaches the majority of our classes and supervises The Threefold Advocate, all without complaint. I have never seen such devotion go unnoticed by the university’s leadership. It amazes me how she does all this subservient work without any frustration. Her positive attitude is very contagious as well. I can enter her office unannounced and she will take the time to chat with me. I can learn from her instruction as well as her example, though I admit I struggle with the latter.

Our two remaining staff are also left to altruism for compensation. Lee Schrader, communications studio manager, runs the podcasting studio and helps students in the IT center. Darren Gould, staff member and adjunct faculty, teaches what few classes Miller does not, spending nights with his students rather than at home with his family. He maintains the department’s equipment, hauling it to the BPAC and the broadcasting suite in BGA Stadium. The communication department, although small, has so much to offer. As a member of this department, I cannot fathom the idea of seeing it diminish. I love my department. I am simply asking for the same rights that have been promised to other departments: the right to continue existing as we are, where we are. If not, we must decide for ourselves where to go.