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Why Campus Matters

  |   By: Ross Green  

The Campus Matters section of Sweet Home Politics has been designed to serve as a statewide forum chronicling issues surrounding higher education from the perspectives of students, professors and professionals at Alabama’s colleges and universities.

We believe that the cultures established at the state’s universities and colleges have a long term impact on the state. Additionally, the funding and management of our education system directly impacts Alabama voters annually, through budget debates. To address the perceived separation of students and the state, we must begin by increasing the quality of dialogue. It is our mission to organize the voices in higher education for the purposes of effective communication through news, opinion and analysis.

Campus Matters is coordinated and developed by students, but it will regularly host contributions from professionals, advocates and decision-makers in higher education.

College newspapers fundamentally cater to students, but they are not the only stakeholders in campus affairs. Professionals like faculty and administrators, along with advocates of higher education, are often overlooked for their insight into what’s going on at Alabama’s colleges and universities.  Stories come and go without any lasting dialogue or inquiry across perspectives, perpetuating a culture of misunderstanding.

Certainly Alabama’s student newspapers deserve credit. The University of Alabama’s home for student news, The Crimson White, has received national recognition for its story about the still-segregated Greek system. Now a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, “The Final Barrier,” was a watershed moment for student voices in higher education.

But instead of providing the start of a needed dialogue on race in Alabama, we witnessed a fragmentation of opportunity.  In what should have been a turning point for the University and the fuel for progress, fingers started pointing and in the anger and frustration, people burned out. The momentum for the issue in turn lost steam and things at the University remain largely the same.

This fragmentation and lost opportunity stemmed from isolation at the heart of failed communication.

It is our belief at Campus Matters that every college and university in Alabama can benefit from the opening up of communication and the broadening of perspectives. By turning cornered conversations into deliberative dialogue, we hope to provide that much needed forum.

Sweet Home Politics and Campus Matters

As stated, Alabama’s colleges and universities can serve as a microcosm of the state’s successes and failures. But they also reveal the state’s future. As an opinion-driven online forum that focuses on Alabama news and politics, Sweet Home Politics is the natural home for Campus Matters.

What happens in higher education today matters tomorrow.

In a state where less than a third of residents hold a college degree, the decisions made in higher education have the opportunity to make or break Alabama’s future. Prosperity is inextricably linked to access to education incumbent on tuition. But tuition and tax dollars only provide part of the story. Enriching the culture of Alabama’s colleges and universities remains the key to greater opportunity and retaining bright young people to invest in the state after graduation.

Campus Matters is committed to ensuring that the voices of tomorrow are heard today. Whether it’s an education budget bill that impacts tuition or a student movement that can inspire fellow institutions, we intend to provide the necessary and often dismissed perspectives to allow our readers to develop informed opinions. We hope that these opinions lead to responses that will make our state better.

As students, professionals and decision-makers in higher education, Campus Matters will serve as an on-the-ground and in-the-vein resource for the news and notes that matter to you. In doing so, we hope to empower the voices of higher education to impact the politics and direction of Alabama.

Follow Ross on Twitter at @shpoliticsal

Ross Green is the Campus Voices editor for Sweet Home Politics, currently majoring in senioritis at The University of Alabama.

The Campus Voices section of Sweet Home Politics features writing from students, professors and professionals attending class and working at Alabama's colleges and universities.