Friday, May 1, 2009

Showing Off SCILS

By Alexander Cole

On the first-ever Rutgers Day, the journalism department showcased some of its most prestigious alumni. One of the Rutgers graduates, known on air as Sharon Stone, is a three-time award winner for Channel 7 News. She told the audience at Saturday’s event how she got her start in journalism working on campus with 88.7 WRSU FM. With a smile, she said that despite her work in television, her favorite medium is radio. According to Stone, she would not have gotten to where she is now without the internships she got during her time at Rutgers. One example Stone gave was how with the help of professors in Rutgers’ journalism department, she gained an internship at WCTC in New Brunswick.

Another alumnus in attendance spoke of how he also got his start at WRSU. He spoke of his work with The Fan, a sports radio station, and how it led him to a promising career in the sports media industry. Sitting in chairs on the lawn of the School of Communication, Information and Library Studies building on the College Avenue campus of Rutgers University, the alumni spoke in groups of five throughout the day.

This reporter spoke to Steven Miller, Coordinator of Undergraduate Studies for the Rutgers University Department of Journalism and Media Studies. When asked how SCILS gathered so many alumni in one place, he simply stated that all they had to do was ask. According to Miller, the alumni “want to come back and give to the students of today and help them out. Rutgers is a family, especially in journalism… I’m a Rutgers grad myself. I bleed scarlet and black.” He recalled examples of how Rutgers students have gotten internships and jobs from other Rutgers alumni. Miller believes the reason for this is that the alumni know that “the quality of student that we [the journalism department] produce is as best as one can get.” As evidence for this, he offered that SCILS graduates have gone on to be producers, directors, reporters, and gained many other prestigious titles.

One might find this single lecture series to be impressive enough, it was only one of several events that were being held at the SCILS building that day. Various professors and part-time lecturers spoke on topics such as the history of television, conflict and romance, political cartoons, and conspiracy theories. There were small workshops in which attendees could improve their public speaking skills or learn to be a “Cub Reporter.” Also included in the day’s festivities was a story telling marathon that lasted all day for children and a free raffle.

None of this would be possible were it not for the Event Design and Management course made available to the undergraduate students of SCILS. According to Rich, a Rutgers undergraduate student and journalism major, their job was to “coordinate the planning and running of this entire event.” This reporter spoke to him as he was handing out floor plans and event schedules to those who walked through the building’s doors.

Meanwhile, a colleague of his was standing by the stairs to another floor, guiding people to the various events. When asked how she felt about the SCILS events as a whole, she was very enthusiastic. Annette, another Rutgers undergraduate student, said she felt it was a good community event and that it should have been done sooner. “It’s a good way for the public to see where their public money is going to. Also, SCILS isn’t on the normal Rutgers tour, so this is a great way for high school students to see what we have to offer.” This reporter had a chance to speak to one of these potential Rutgers students. Dan Marley, a high school student visiting Rutgers with his parents, said that his interest in SCILS stemmed from a website announcement about the day’s events. He stated that he’d always loved sports journalism and worked for his school’s newspaper and had a strong desire to learn more about the journalism department at Rutgers.

It is true that all of this took a lot of planning and effort, but even that pales in comparison to the college wide event held that day. Saturday April 25th was Rutgers Day, the first event of its kind meant to open up Rutgers and all of its students and departments to the community. Many parts of the university, from health care, to environment, to various clubs, were involved across all four of Rutgers’ campuses. In the program for Rutgers Day, Richard McCormick, president of Rutgers University, reached out to the community. “We are delighted to share these programs with [the state of New Jersey] as we roll out the scarlet carpet for our first-ever Rutgers Day,” said McCormick. He invited attendees to explore the campuses, as well as meet Rutgers students and faculty, as they experienced the different events that were available.

This reporter spoke to Ashanti Maya Alvarez in the days preceding the massive event. Alvarez, a Rutgers graduate student and staff member, was responsible for much of SCILS’ involvement. “This is the first Rutgers Day ever. We've never done anything like this, on this scale, that encompassed this much of the New Brunswick Campus and involved as many staff and faculty across Rutgers,” said Alvarez. She mentioned that SCILS had to send in ideas for events to the Office of Community Affairs, followed by writing summaries of the events for the Rutgers Day program. She cited the event’s timing, since late April is when many students are wrapping up their classes for the semester and preparing for finals, as another hurdle that had to be crossed. When asked about the volunteers, she credited roughly 12 students from the event management course and another 10 SCILS faculty who agreed to assist. When I spoke to Alvarez before the event, she said she hoped the event would be informative and fun for all ages. On Saturday, from alumni to students to children of alumni and community members, this reporter only found smiles as SCILS showed its colors.

Alexander Cole is an undergraduate student in journalism at Rutgers University, specializing in reporting on radio. He has worked as a news editor in the News Department of 88.7 WRSU FM.

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