Reflections as a senior: the state of Luther College as I see it

This is my last opinion as Editor-in-Chief and member of Chips newspaper. In deciding what to write about, there were so many things that raced through my mind: how, at all, am I supposed to summarize my four years here in a single opinion piece? I figured that what would serve the best use of ink on this page is to lay out how I see Luther as it is now, hopefully inspiring some needed change that future Luther students, faculty, and staff will consider. I will begin with squirrel-gate, but precede that with a preface. 


The thing about the independent press is that it isn’t a marketing tool: it is a mirror, with some imperfections I grant you, but albeit a good-enough gauge of student life unfiltered by administrative bureaucracy. Our student-led paper has existed for 134 years not because it has ever caved into the personalities during the course of any one administration, but because it has consistently tried to authentically represent an unbiased, impartial perspective of life here on campus. Our legitimacy comes from the very fact that we are the only source of news on campus that does not require approval from Luther officials to print. Past administrations of Luther have not all recognized the importance of our paper, but many have still remained supportive (through both monetary and social support) of our operation. 


That said, Chips has come under question in recent years through our handling of various topics. In squirrel-gate, I do admit that the satirical piece delivered several blows and attacks that, if one was not privy to the context from which they were written in, would seem to be entirely uncalled for. However, without going into too much detail about how disappointing the response was by certain faculty and the administration here on campus, I believe that the entire controversy served as the impetus for our dismantling. The college appeared to choose a side in that situation, and the side was entirely partial and without nuance. 


Was the squirrel story a cordial, nice marketing piece about the athletic teams here at Luther? No. Was it in good taste? Probably not. Was it divisive? It sure was. But our paper is not a Luther alumni magazine. It’s not designed to be perfect; it’s an instrument through which students, regardless of who they are, can express their opinions in our opinion section, write absurd satirical pieces for our Foolsies/Fallsies editions, and join our staff of (insanely competent!) writers to deliver unbiased reporting of the happenings of campus life. We have gone to great lengths to preserve the integrity of our news reporting section, while balancing it with the humorous/more feisty side that inevitably comes in the opinions and Foolsies/Fallsies pieces.


The simple fact is this: as a newspaper first, we will not stay in a single lane carved out for us by administrations to sidestep transparency and information sharing. We are really the only organization on campus dedicated to disseminating information on campus to the world beyond. Our website has thousands of readers, and our paper is seen by many students, faculty, alumni and strangers alike in both cyberspace and on campus. Our relevancy comes from our readership—it comes entirely from you. 


Like the KWLC radio station, Chips has been a media organization run by students who get work study hours to help pay for their education. However, with the near total elimination of Chips and KWLC work study, the college is making a choice about how information is shared by students independently from the college. The college is making their priorities clear when they unveil a multi-million dollar renovation of the SRC sports facility, all the while defunding the few independent media apparatuses available to students interested in getting work experience in journalism. 


My greatest concern for Luther is that its priorities are shifting from allowing students to represent themselves and make substantive decisions about life here, to an institution where student-self government is ultimately meaningless. Whether Chips continues to have the support of the administration or the community here is always uncertain, but we have survived through two world wars, the turbulence of the Civil Rights Movement, countless economic upheavals, and through the tenure of various Luther administrators. 


Chips’ motto is “let the chips fall where they may.” Even when the chips don’t land in our favor, the ethos of organization is to roll with the punches, and that we will. Our mission is to report, in an unbiased manner, the state of the student experience regardless of the pressure to paint a good (or sometimes bad) picture of our college. It is to be a faithful representative of life here, unfiltered and independent of the powers that be. Even if our organization is officially stopped, the mission and necessity for independent student journalism will always remain. 


I will end my last Chips opinion with this thought: students and faculty here deserve the ability to be decision makers about the community they are invested in. We all have different experiences that, if left discounted and shut out, contribute to a campus culture which is entirely artificial and incongruent to the lived experiences of everyone. Prospective students and potential members of our community deserve to be made aware of the culture they are planning to be part of, and it is our responsibility as community members to foster a campus where different perspectives are shared and taken seriously. 


To the few (but mighty!!) Chips staff who are taking over the organization next year, I wish you the best. I have complete faith in your abilities, and have the utmost trust in your capacity to navigate through whatever challenges may come your way. To Peter—go with your gut. Your journalistic instinct is sharp and true. Ethan—continue wearing your flat English newsboy cap with pride. Your insightful edits and perspectives on stories will always be welcomed. As the next Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor, I believe you both have everything it takes to make Chips succeed, all the while making “good trouble”. 


For the last time, and with much gratitude, 

Jackson Geadelmann

Chips Editor-in-Chief, 2022-2023