Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Since 1907
Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Letter to the editor: Cutting Dialogue would be tragic

Letter to the editor: Cutting Dialogue would be tragic

Dear Chimes:

I was dismayed by your editorial about plans to cut Dialogue’s print budget. Let’s hope that the rumors were only rumors and that Student Life will engage the community in a deeper discussion if, indeed, it is considering cuts.

I would suggest that cutting the print budget for Dialogue would be a tragic and counterproductive decision, one that might hold an understandable fiscal appeal, particularly in an era when no one can talk about media without the adjective “digital,” but one that would bring significant long-term costs to the college and its core identity.

To explain, let me talk a bit about last Friday. Mid-afternoon, a prospective student from a western state stopped by to ask about Calvin’s writing program. Calvin was the last stop on the family’s tour of midwestern colleges.

They were consumers that had done their research. They knew that college was going to be expensive. They knew about the nuances of the offerings of the other colleges they had visited.

Many of you probably recognize this drill. You looked carefully at Calvin’s offerings in your field before you came. It makes sense to do so.

What struck me, though, was the interest that these folks had in Calvin’s print publications. They wanted to know about where Calvin students published their writing during and after graduation. They wanted to know about publication opportunities that were more tangible than a URL.

This echoed a recent email from another prospective student to whom I had mailed Calvin’s print publications.

Listen: “The Dialogue booklet that you included in the package is one of the most extraordinary things I’ve seen come from college students. I loved looking through it and was continually amazed at the turn of each page.”

You can see, I hope, where this leads. Dialogue—the print version—helps Calvin stand out from the crowd when students interested in the arts are looking for colleges. A tangible, aesthetically pleasing publication “says” Calvin cares about the arts much more powerfully than any website could.

Later, I walked up to the fifth floor of the library to look over the volumes of Dialogue, one for each of the 40 some years of the publication’s existence. It was a fascinating experience, one that I’d recommend to the members of the Student Life Finance Committee before any action.

Perusing lists of contributors from the early 1970s, I could recognize the names of close to thirty individuals who had gone on to make life-long contributions to the arts and culture.

Many became professors, many at other universities, but some you’ll recognize some because they returned to Calvin to join the faculty or administration: David Hoekema, James Bratt, Frank Speyers, Tim Van Laar, Gord Bordewyk, Phil Wilson, Robert Kuilema, Mark Van Halsema, Joel Carpenter.

Imagine the ripples of influence we could observe if we could explore the post-graduation stories of every artist, writer, musician, or composer who had contributed to the magazine.

This is a heritage that would be lost if the college stops printing the magazine.

“But,” you might ask, “couldn’t this heritage continue online?”

My answer is that I don’t believe it could.

I do think that Dialogue might consider online publishing in addition to print publishing, a model that has worked for Chimes as well as for most professional publications, but what those professional publications have found is that the essence of their magazines is in the print realm.

The physical magazine itself is central to the experience of many readers. The look and the feel of the paper, the design of the pages make help communicate the content.

Each issue—and historically, Dialogue has published an average of 4-6 issues per academic year—each issue is designed by the editors to create an aesthetic whole, the various elements of the magazine in conversation with each other.

If you’d take a trip up to the fifth floor of Hekman, you could see this. I’d like to point out specific examples of ways the thoughtful design puts visual art and written word in, well, forgive the obvious pun, dialogue, but there isn’t space. Look for yourself. You won’t be sorry.

A recent editor, Heather Tills, that “It takes courage to look closely at our lives.” Exploring the arts, “means acting with courage, investing in the present, and continuing to become the selves we are waiting to transform.”

That’s what Dialogue does, and I urge Student Life to act courageously to preserve this key component of Calvin’s rich cultural legacy.


Donald R. Hettinga

Professor of English

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