By: Cullen McIntyre, Sports Editor
President Glenn Cummings confirmed in last week’s Monday Missive that the Media Studies Lab & Production Center would not be relocated as the new Career/Student Success Center and Residence Hall in Portland are built. This possibility had been suggested the week before in a discussion about the campus renovations. Protests arose as soon as students were informed.
President Cummings cited the town hall meeting held on Friday, February 14 where Media Studies students and faculty voiced their opinions against the relocation. Senior media studies major Nate Moore was the first speaker of the meeting, “It might be supported by the deans, but it’s not gonna be supported by the students,” he said. “As slide 11 says, ‘student-focused every day’, I really don’t know if this decision was student-focused.”
Steven Johnson, along with Moore and several seniors in the media studies major took action following the town hall meeting. A petition was created on change.org, amassing a total of 893 signatures in a week. The petition states “while the University of Southern Maine’s Communication and Media Studies department is bolstered by passionate and hardworking academics and instructors, the program would not be as robust as it is without its Media Studies Lab and Production Studio.”
The petition was shared across social media by students in the major on Instagram and Facebook and received support from current students and alumni. “My career was made in that lab. So many hours learning everything there is to know about production,” Grace Waldron commented on the petitions page.
Through the petition and voicing their opinions at the town hall meeting, the inclusion in the Monday missive was a great relief to those who took action. “I think resistance and speaking up about the lab was essential in protecting it. There’s something communal in joining together to speak up and fight for a valuable part of the media studies community. The lab had a legacy before I came to USM, and I’m grateful that legacy will live on in the years to come,” said Johnson.
The conversation during which the future of the lab was made uncertain occurred during a conference call between Nancy Griffin (Chief Operations Officer), John Souther (Executive Director of Facilities Management), Adam Tuchinsky (Dean of College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences), Nat Ives (Manager of Production Studio), and David Pierson (Chair of Communication and Media Studies).
The call discussed the impact of the $100 million construction of the student center and dorms in Portland, and the possibility of relocation. “The discussion at that point was that we would possibly look to relocate, but they weren’t sure where we would relocate to,” Pierson said.
Possible locations were the basement of Payson Smith Hall, the Science Building, or a modular. These locations would not suit the current standards of the current production center that includes a full studio with high ceilings, double sound proof walls, specific electrical wiring, a control room, a computer lab, and a recording studio.
The building itself houses a third of the media studies curriculum. The major is composed of three focuses, media theory, writing, and production. The production courses are hosted in the lab, with classes ranging from narrative filmmaking to photojournalism to digital audio storytelling.
Students in the media studies program have found a home and a community in the production studio. “This has been such a monumental part of everyone in this major, especially the senior class. All these people I’ve made friends with, did all this work on that the impact that this school and major has had on me wouldn’t be the same without this building,” said Johnson.