Editorial: new website

File photo

File photo

Even print newspapers can embrace in the 21st century. It was a big step forward for Chimes when we updated and modernized our website in 2012, and this week we’re excited to announce another milestone: a redesigned, mobile-friendly website with a brand new URL: calvinchimes.org. Bookmark it now, and tell all your friends! (And your parents, if they’re the type to read your school’s newspaper. Mine are.)

We’re excited about this move away from calvin.edu/chimes because it makes it clear in the URL itself that we’re the voice of Calvin students, not Calvin College. It gives us an identity as a student institution supported but not controlled by the college’s administration. It also bring us closer to the model used by student newspapers at other, larger schools, like the Grand Valley Lanthorn and the MSU State News. We hope to see Chimes grow, diversify and adapt over the next few years, and this is the first step toward making that happen.

Our new website is hosted through Student News Online (SNO), a company that specializes in websites for high school and college student newspapers. We discovered SNO at an Associated Collegiate Press conference this February, decided it would be a good fit for us and asked CIT to look into it. We’re thankful for positive feedback and technological assistance from Brian Paige, Matt Jeltema and Rick DeVries at CIT, who all helped us get this thing off the ground. Our new advisor, English professor Jesse Holcomb, also helped us think through what this website change could mean for our content, brand, workflow and audience interaction.

I’m telling this story because it’s a concrete example of students seeing a change that needs to be made, finding a realistic solution and working with staff, faculty and administrators to make it happen. Our old website was great, and we’re thankful to the Chimes alumni who put it together back in 2012, but it was somewhat haphazardly put together over the years and hard to manage for a staff somewhat devoid of computer science majors. We hope that SNO’s simplicity, customer support and list of features all help us cultivate a more engaging and more useful digital presence.

Of course, this project was relatively easy for us to take the lead on because Chimes is a student organization with student leaders. But, in a way, you could think of Calvin College as one giant student org. After all, we’re the ones who provide most of the funding through tuition, determine which classes are offered by how we register and make up the vast majority of the daily activity on this campus. We drive this school’s future whether we know it or not, so we might as well do so willfully.

Outside of Chimes, other student initiatives that have made a difference at Calvin include the 24-hour prayer tents, the town hall meeting with President Le Roy after the prioritization cuts were announced in 2015 and the annual Faith and Development Conference. The college listens to students. Sometimes it makes the changes students suggest, and sometimes it doesn’t, but I’ve become convinced over my three years here that when a student speaks, there’s always someone listening. And if enough students speak together, speak well and speak boldly, things will change.

Those changes could be new websites, new campus policies or new library hours. They could happen quickly — like our website shift — or take decades. But I’m confident that if enough students want them, they will happen. I encourage all of you to make your voices heard and give Calvin College a better idea of what its students — every single one of its students — want.

One last note: we’d love to hear feedback or suggestions on the website! Feel free to email [email protected] with any ideas for how we could do digital journalism better.