This Letter to the Editor was submitted by junior Tyler Hanson.
Who actually reads you? What do you even do? These, admittedly, were my first thoughts when I found out that Truman published a weekly newspaper. Over the course of my few years here at Truman though, I’ve come to realize that you may well be one of the most important traditions that our university has, benefitting both the campus community and the surrounding Kirksville community as well.
You see, my experience with Kirksville didn’t begin when I decided to go to Truman. I grew up here. In fact, it was hardly a decision to go to Truman so much as a given that I would. My family has always been involved with Truman State University. Actually, that’s not quite true. They’ve always been involved with Northeast Missouri State Teachers College, Northeast Missouri State College, Northeast Missouri State University, and Truman State University. You see, I’m a fifth-generation Truman student. As such, I’ve gotten to witness the unique relationship between Truman and Kirksville firsthand. One of the things that many incoming students fail to understand is that, while occasionally seeming separate, the Truman community is the Kirksville community. And as such, the students are an integral part of the relationship between Truman and Kirksville. In the same way, you (the Index) are not only Truman’s paper, but Kirksville’s paper. As well as communicating news and events, you have also served to keep the two sides of the community informed as to what is going on in Northeast Missouri as a whole. Without your integral role, our community would find itself divided, with Truman lacking important information about what is happening on campus as well as in Kirksville. As Joseph Pulitzer once said,
“We are a democracy, and there is only one way to get a democracy on its feet in the matter of its individual, its social, its municipal, its State, its national conduct, and that is by keeping the public informed about what is going on.”
For those residents of Kirksville not directly involved with Truman, you serve as a window into the world of Truman, communicating both events and stories from the Truman campus as well as providing fresh angles on larger news stories. For those of us within the Truman life, you serve both as an informative source on relevant issues as well as a way to be in touch with the community around us. You recently ran a piece called “Truman lacks healthy identity” that encouraged students to, “Connect with [their] community and become part of something bigger than [themselves].” You are one of the opportunities to do just that. For nearly eleven decades, you’ve been molded by the identity of every student that had the privilege to work with you. More than that, you’ve preserved the ever-changing identity of each generation within your pages. In many ways, you’ve come to represent who we are. You are our identity.
But now, the next generation of Truman students is in danger of losing you. As budget cuts loom, your future is in jeopardy. Many may have difficulty explaining why you are necessary to Truman. In fact, your necessity to Truman is a result of your necessity to the students. Truman’s tagline reads, “Don’t follow. Pursue.” That’s exactly what you allow students to do. Instead of simply following your stories, they get to write them. Instead of watching from the outside, they get to pursue career goals from the inside. The vision statement here at Truman State University’s states that,
“Truman will demonstrate its public liberal arts and sciences mission by developing educated citizens needed to protect our democracy and offer creative solutions to local, state, national and global problems… [doing] so through transformative experiences that foster critical thought, daring imagination and empathetic understanding of human experiences at home and around the world.”
If that’s not what you do, I don’t know what is. You provide an opportunity for students to hone their journalism skills, students who may eventually hold positions in media that could shape the very future of our country and democracy. You give voice to creative solutions to our local problems, as well as to those outside our immediate area. You embody the very vision of Truman State University, and that is why you are utterly necessary to our community.
To that end, I want to thank you. On behalf of Kirksville and on behalf of Truman, thank you for all the years that you’ve kept us informed. Thank you for the late nights and long hours that you spent in the office. Thank you for everything that you’ve done. For 109 years now, you’ve helped us; guiding us through times of darkness and making sure that we do not remain in the dark. As one of my professors once stated, “Instead of dragging darkness out of the room, introduce light.” In this way, there is no doubt that you have been a light, not only to Truman, but to our community that extends out into Kirksville and the world. Thank you for fulfilling your mission, “…to educate, inform, and create discourse with [y]our audience while seeking and reporting the truth.” We certainly appreciate it.