The Arizona Desert Lamp

Why the Lamp Exists (Post-Election Wrap-Up)

Posted in Campus, Media by Evan Lisull on 24 November 2008

So, in a rather quiet denouement, the 2008 College Blogging Scholarship has officially come to a close. Congratulations to winner David Mauro, author of Burnt Orange Report, as well as runners-up David Cameron (the Mariners expert, not the Tory) and Thomas Peters (American Papist). The Desert Lamp finished tenth, right in the middle of the pack; not too shabby for a very local blog.

If you haven’t taken the time, you really should browse through some of these blogs. They cover a wide  — sports, national politics, religion, economics, linguistics, evolution  — and are, in my opinion, all excellently written and designed.

I’d also like to take some time to thank everyone who voted for the blog, as well as for everyone who has had a role, directly or indirectly, in making the Lamp possible. Hopefully, our work here has just begun.

Since voting has come to a close, I’d like to take a bit of time to discuss why I started this blog in the first place. Much of this comes from the last paragraph of the essay that I submitted to apply for the scholarship:

There is a great opportunity for college students in the field of focused campus coverage. With few exceptions (Dartmouth College’s DartBlog comes to mind), there is a dearth of blogs by college students about college issues. Yet this an area where college students can have a direct impact. While students often get involved in national and international issues, such as the “Save Darfur” movement, the impact from these movements pales in comparison with the impact that students can have on university policy. While Omar al-Bashir couldn’t care less about student protests, Arizona’s Provost must be concerned with what students think. If these ideas are plausible and well-formulated, they may very well be enacted, creating a tenable change for the better.

While the Wildcat is an excellent paper (really, it is — try reading other campus newspapers), it simply cannot provide in-depth analysis of issues on campus. It cannot criticize many institutions to the extent that they wish.

Any environment without competitive media (or, at the very least, alternative media) is an environment with stagnant discourse. I remember reading the Arizona Growler as a wee freshman, and it wasn’t until I was a junior that I realized what had been lost with Garrett’s graduation. Thus, the Lamp sought to revitalize this campus-wide conversation — whether it be through pointed critiques, airing of half-complete ideas, lengthy consideration of campus issues, or encouraging input from students on campus.

So far, things have gone better than this pessimist could have expected. Between guest writers, new blogs, and thoughtful comments, I would hope that the UA is slightly more informed than it was a year ago.

Ideally, we would start to see more university-centric blogs in the coming years. By closely observing their own student governments, university administration, campus culture, and other issues, they could begin a dialogue with other large state universities. A Penn State blog could discuss the pros and cons of the Collegiate Readership Program; a U. Washington blog could discuss their 150 member student Senate (more on this later; it’s pretty outrageous). Like working a local beat for a small-market paper, this sort of coverage provides excellent training for dealing with public policy issues on a broader level.

Already, we have the aforementioned DartBlog, along with U. Illinois’s The Quad. More, please. If any readers out there are aware of other campus-centric blogs, I’d appreciate the tip.


One Response

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  1. Gavin said, on 10 February 2009 at 12:25 pm

    nice post. We have a similar situation here at Illinois – The Daily Illini (the student newspaper) is excellent, but we felt that they weren’t covering issues as quickly as we thought was prudent (stories would run weeks after the news was public). We figure that if we can add just a small amount to the “campus conversation,” we have done our job.
    Gavin (The Quad)

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