Letters to the Editor: ‘The Source’ and MLK Day of Service

SMPA’s ‘The Source’ canceled

As an SMPA alumnus, I was saddened to read that the SMPA has canceled “The Source” (Feb. 1). Currently, I am a studio camera operator at CNN’s Washington D.C. bureau, and much of my hands-on training came directly from Professor Roxanne Russell’s class. In fact, I think it’s probably safe to say that I would not have gotten this job had it not been for my prior experience in a television studio, especially in producing “The Source” each week.

One of the coolest aspects of this class was how students were assigned a different task each week to produce the show. For instance, one week you operate studio cameras, another week you control the video switcher, another week you’re the tape operator, another week you’re the anchor… For anyone interested in pursuing a career in television, either on the editorial or the technical side, this class was a must. In fact, I remember I had to fight my way just to get into the class because it was so popular at the time!

With “new media” constantly evolving and much of journalism merging to exclusive online-only content, the skills learned in this class still hold water, even if one doesn’t plan on working in TV in the future. (Not to mention, this was also the most fun I had in any SMPA class at GW.) Hopefully, enrollment in the class will be back to where it should be next fall – it would be a tragedy to see the program scrapped indefinitely.
Brendan Polmer is a 2008 SMPA graduate, former Hatchet Arts editor, opinions writer and journalism major.

The management of MLK Day

Special one-time service events are intended to act as a spring board into on-going service and community building, while achieving short-term goals on a grand scale. They also involve a variety of unique challenges. Due to time constraints, community capacity and varied key stakeholder expectations, special one-time service events are often the most difficult type of service initiative to organize. While respecting the right of Nate Hennagin to his own opinion, a number of clarifications on the assessment of the GW Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service are appropriate.

First, doing our best to connect the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to GW’s specific service event was essential. The GW community was not simply serving, but rather we were serving in response to and in honor of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as an authentic servant leader.

Second, the significance of GW’s top administrator, President Steven Knapp, and his wife Diane serving side-by-side with GW students cannot be underestimated. When the commitment to service by GW’s top administrator meets the groundswell of student dedication to make a difference, amazing things can and did happen.

Third, GW has been managing the Michelle Obama Service Challenge with the utmost integrity. Service-hour tracking as required by the first lady has been an appropriate priority. For the MLK Day of Service, GW is and always was conservatively counting 3 hours per participant toward the service challenge.

Fourth, participants were asked to wear their own GW apparel as a way to reinforce GW pride, to show support for one another, as well as to help project coordinators identify GW participants among the hundreds of other volunteers from neighboring schools and organizations. Money spent on T-shirts in past years was used to buy project supplies.

Finally, logistics can always be improved for any initiative. GW is committed to that improvement and appreciates the feedback we have received thus far. Thank you for your service and for embracing our shared commitment to live and learn as authentic servant leaders.
Timothy Kane is the director of the GW Office of Community Service.

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