By Darren Johnson
Some people spend several hours a week on their yards. Forget that; for me, I just put the mower on the shortest setting, crank some Nirvana, and speed through it; brown spots and missed dandelions be damned. Instead, I spend time on the newspaper route.
If you think about it, the modern miracle of Campus News is not that it’s still in print and students/faculty/staff still pick it up – that’s counterintuitive to what many people think in this digital media world, but it’s true – but that the paper is able to get to so many locales. Usually it’s me out there on the road with it. I fire up the van, crank some Guns N’ Roses and make sure we’re as organized as possible. I take photos along the way and send them out via social media, but the social media audience isn’t the same audience as you, here, with this print paper in your hands, so let me show you the photos from my last route. Let’s look (CLICK TO EXPAND PHOTOS):
First, while most community college campuses in the Northeast were built about 50 years ago on cheap land in the outskirts, some do have striking views. Let me show you Herkimer County Community College, a campus nestled in the Mohawk Valley where the sky seems to go on forever, beautiful mountain views in the distance. They have dorms, in case you’re thinking of transferring Upstate.
And pictured to the left is the Newburgh Campus of SUNY Orange, overlooking the Hudson with a view every bit as good as West Point’s a little down river. This was taken near a very modern and spacious library building on a hill.
In eight years of doing Campus News, I’m finding all-gender bathrooms replacing former single-sex bathrooms – and, I must say, this is great! They all seem renovated and are clean and fresh, and have fewer lines. One of these I visited had lotions all set up along the mirror. Nice touch, and I can’t say I didn’t try some after washing the newspaper ink off of my hands. I’m not sure what the big deal is about these bathrooms in some Southern states. They don’t know what they’re missing!
Elevators! Most campuses tend to have “old” and “new” buildings. Perhaps the old buildings were built in the 1960s and new buildings were tacked on in the 1990s. Often, the floors don’t match up in the old and new buildings. At one community college, several new weekend students I encountered were perplexed because they swore their class was on the third floor so they hit “3” on the elevator. “No,” I told them, “the third floor is really the fifth floor, depending what elevator you take.” They shook their heads in disbelief. One more note about elevators – I notice many community college students rush onto them as soon as they open, not waiting to see if others are getting out. Patience!
I also notice some professors promoting their own classes with fliers – especially adjuncts, who don’t get paid if the classes don’t fill. We wrote a story about this flier in the September issue. Look it up on our site.
I’ve also noticed more campuses with food pantries, which is a good thing for students who are barely getting by. This may help retention and graduation rates, as well. On our next route, we’re definitely going to drop off some nonperishables, and you should too! Ask your Student Activities office how you can help, and don’t be shy about asking for food if you’re hungry.
Darren Johnson owns Campus News and teaches Public Relations and Advertising classes at a small college in Upstate New York. Contact him about internship opportunities!