Recently, I was busy watching Yale Vision, or, as I like to call it, “Blue Vision.” For those of you who haven’t seen it, turn to channel 10 on your television. You will find a blue screen. No matter what time of day or night, no matter what day of the week, you will always find the blue screen. It’s oddly comforting, something you can rely on in this unstable and capricious world.
Still, sometimes I get tired of the blue screen. Sometimes I want to bang my head against the television and scream, “Please! Somebody! Put something on there!” Anything, I don’t care what it is. Reruns of “The Facts of Life,” infomercials, public access, B-movies. If I have to look at it any longer I think I will lose my mind.
You are probably thinking, “why doesn’t she just change the channel?” Well, you are thinking logically, and we won’t have any of that crazy talk around here. Of course, I could change the channel, but that’s beside the point.
What is the point then? I’m getting there. The point is that Yale has a perfectly good television channel that is just going to waste. Yale Vision is a resource that could be put to good use by the University and, most importantly, by the students.
Not only does Yale have the ability to broadcast on its very own television station, they also have a studio in Linsly-Chittenden Hall on Old Campus with all the equipment needed to produce a television show. But students are not allowed access to this equipment and Yale will not broadcast any student programming on Yale Vision, reserving it instead for the broadcast of the tercentennial program.
I hardly think it is worthwhile to have a whole television channel just for broadcasting fireworks every three hundred years.
Sure, a campus television station and student television programming are not absolutely necessary. Yale is doing fine without these amenities and certainly is not lacking in outlets for student expression, be it creative or journalistic.
One of the best things about this campus is the proliferation of student art, music, theater, and publications. There’s the Yale Daily News, the Yale Herald, the Yale Daily News Magazine, the New Journal, Aurora, Rumpus, the Journal of Contemporary Culture, the Yale Record, and many, many more. And that’s wonderful. The Yale curriculum tends to focus on theory and analysis rather than application and practice.
Students who actually want to “do” are encouraged to do so through extracurricular activities. Thus, the abundance of publications is important for students who are interested in journalism and writing. Yale is certainly dedicated to print media.
But what about non-print media? The closest thing to a campus television station that we have is the online television group Teli. The group began running programming last year through yalestation.org, but so far there is no Teli site up and running this year due to a messy political struggle between yalestation.org and an independent group of students who are each claiming rights to the station.
This has also been complicated by the question of whether or not yalestation.org itself will be run by Yale College Council, a contentious issue in itself. Effectively, then, there is no online television programming. Even if there were, it would still be only online, which is a very different medium from the television screen. And even when Teli was broadcasting daily programming, few students watched it and few students had even heard about it.
The groups that have been the most successful in promoting non-print media, such as Teli, WYBC, and the new Alternative Media Library and Resource Center (AMLRC) have been, for the most part, very alternative and independent. They do not have a significant presence on campus, and many students do not know they even exist. It’s time for mainstream, accessible and well-publicized non-print media to exist at Yale, and television is the most mainstream, accessible and easily publicized form of media.
There is no reason why there cannot be, similarly, a weekly campus news show. A friend of mine tried to start one earlier this year and, after expending much time and energy clashing with the administration over equipment and studio access, he decided he just didn’t have the fight in him and gave up. Another group devoted to putting programming on Yale Vision just registered as an official undergraduate organization, but they, too, have met with heavy opposition from the administration.
This should not be an issue over which a battle must be fought. The administration should be more open to and encouraging of the development of non-print media. Yale stands only to gain from such development. The fact of the matter is that more people watch television news than read newspapers, more people watch sitcoms than read books outside of class, and I would bet that this is true — especially the sitcoms bit — even for many Yale students. The University has the ability to tap into this trend, to use it to its own advantage and to the advantage of its students, by fostering the production and broadcasting of potentially meaningful and worthwhile programming.
Society is moving toward non-print media, and Yale should recognize this and move with the times. I do not mean to suggest that Yale should move away from print publications. God forbid. Rather, Yale should start a new tradition and should open up to the idea of non-print media playing a bigger role in student life.
If this is too much to ask, then I only have one small request. Please, at least change the color of the screen on Yale Vision. A different shade of blue maybe? Cobalt is nice, or indigo–
Rebecca Honig is a junior in Calhoun College.