Assistant Features Editor
It was a “wow” feeling hard to describe when I found myself in the middle of the two-story open office landscape where some of the world’s most famous reporters have produced several Pulitzer Prize winning articles. Like in a movie, the journalists that were in on Friday, March 22 frantically typed on their keyboards while talking on the phone. One guy even wore a white shirt unbuttoned at the top while leaning back on his chair in what looked like yesterday’s hairdo, as if he was starring as Woodward or Bernstein during the Watergate scandal. It looked exactly like I had imagined it, perhaps even better.
The outside-class-hours field trip to the 52-floor high, New York Times Building on Manhattan’s 8th Avenue had finally arrived. Together with five other members from LIU Post’s recently formed chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, I entered the 1,046-foot environment- an energy efficient building that hosts some of the world’s most skilled journalists that stand behind articles read by millions of people. I have passed this building many times before on my way home, and since the first time I laid eyes on it, I have dreamt of one day working there. After our inspiring visit, the dream was reinforced. I went home on cloud nine, and had no problems finishing an article that I had struggled with for weeks. I was motivated.
A few days after, I reflected upon this and wondered why my first field trip at Post took place through a professional club and not the school, right before my fourth semester. Why do we rarely take field trips with the university when these visits can motivate students and guide them towards the future? Being an international student from Sweden, I also find it crazy that New York City, and many Long Island businesses, lay so close by, and that the school seems to take little advantage of it.
Dr. Barbara Fowles, Chairperson of the Media Arts Department, agreed that school trips certainly are motivating and beneficial for students, but that our school has tried. On the contrary, she stated, it is the students that haven’t made the effort. “There are many busi- nesses that are happy to have people come. But when faculty organize field trips and no students actually show up, then we become reluctant to put the trips together,” Fowles said.
Fowles also mentioned transportation issues. Chartering a bus is costly, and why do so if only a few students actually arrive? In addition, it will be embarrassing for the school if signed up students do not come on field trips where the business only guaranteed the visit if a certain substantial number of students could make it. “Maybe it is better to let professional clubs organize these trips,” said Fowles.
Sandra Mardenfeld, Director of the Journalism Program, agreed. “It is very tricky to fit school trips into the schedules that Post offer. If I took my 2 p.m. class somewhere, we would never make it back on time for classes at 3.30 p.m.,” Mardenfeld continued. “That requires scheduling the trip to a Friday, which is difficult.”
In order to go on more field trips, it seems like it is up to the students to engage themselves more; to start clubs or not sign up for trips and then skip going. I agree with this, and I certainly have classmates that do not even care that they are in college. I actu- ally think that faculty could do a better job too. Not a single time at Post have I been asked: “So would your students be interested in a field trip with this class?” The closest they have gotten is: “It would be fun to take you to Newsday here on Long Island someday… Well, let’s get back to class now.”
Sophomore Business Administration major, Kristoffer Eidissen, recognizes this from his program. “We have never even talked about field trips and that is strange when New York City and the surrounding area comprise such a business center in the world,” said Eidissen. Organizing activities outside the classroom is of importance since there are many students at Post that are undecided, others are unsure where they are going within their chosen field, and some people have lost motivation and need a reminder of why they are doing this. A field trip to “the real world” can be an answer, and a kick in the butt. In addition, it is interesting and educating, and a possible way to make connections. Start talking to an employee or a tour guide, and maybe you are offered possibilities of an internship.
So, my suggestion is that Post’s faculty looks into what they can do. They can ask for our interest in field trips in the beginning of the semester, reach out to businesses on Long Island to reduce travel-hours, and if not a giant-size class, organize the trip by car-pooling instead of renting a bus. If afraid of low participation, make the field trip mandatory.
When students in the classroom look unmotivated and tend to perform worse towards the end of the semester than they did in the beginning, a field trip could be a fun, educating and inspiring way to push the student in the right direction. It is at least worth a try.