PUHI — Kauai Community College has discontinued two journalism courses after the spring 2015 semester in light of low student enrollment, school officials said.
Journalism 205, news writing, and Journalism 285, news lab, were cut from the curriculum after both courses failed to acquire a minimum of 10 students per course, every semester, since their inception in spring 2012. This past semeseter, five students enrolled in news lab, while zero signed up for news writing.
Richard Randolph — KCC Language, Arts and Humanities division chair — attributed the low student turnout to a lack of interest in writing.
“I think the lack of interest in students … is we have the local population — many of them — are insecure of their writing, and so a lot of people didn’t sign up because they think it was too challenging or they’re not really writers,” he said. “We have a lot of students who take writing only because it’s a requirement. We didn’t have enough students who just really wanted to write.”
Shaina Nacion, KCC student and editor of KCC’s student publication, Ka Leo O KCC, agreed with Randolph.
“I don’t think there’s enough interest in journalism as a whole, but more specifically writing at KCC with the regard to students,” she said. “We don’t have enough writers and so not enough people are interested in taking the journalism class.”
From spring 2012 to spring 2015, the news writing class averaged less than two students per semester, while the news lab class averaged just over five per semester. As a whole, KCC saw a 5 percent drop in enrollment from last year — 1,292 students in 2015 compared to 1,367 in 2014.
Although the courses saw less than 10 students per semester, the courses were allowed to continue on a two-year-pilot program — fall 2012 to fall 2014 — as a recruitment tool to attract students to the college. The program included a $4 student-publication fee that funded the school’s student newspaper.
“The promise made two years ago was to fill journalism classes,” said Carol Bain, former KCC journalism instructor, who lost her job with the program’s cancellation. “There wasn’t enough (interest) to attract students to take this elective. It is a 200-level class. You do have to have good writing skills.”
Randolph said journalism was originally scheduled to be cut in spring 2015. However, Ka Leo O KCC students convinced college administrators that they would create an art magazine instead of a newspaper.
“Journalism per se has been canceled, but we gave them another term to create something like this … a new art magazine,” he said.
KCC’s LAH division funded this semester’s $3,000 publication fee of Ka Leo’s newspaper and one magazine.
With regard to the new magazine, Nacion said students are interested in a “visually appealing” publication and less interested with “big blocks of texts and news.” She said the magazine promotes art — paintings, photographs, poems — produced by students.
“News travels so quickly by word of mouth that by the time we publish, it’s old news already because we have three issues per semester,” she said. “If it’s a project a student is doing, it’s always timely — there’s not really an expiration.”
Nacion said college administrators like the idea of a magazine and will approve a $3 student publication fee pending a student survey.
The administration “thought it was a good idea, and they thought it was something that would be valuable at the school,” she said. “But they wanted to make sure it would be something students wanted to spend their money on.”
Nacion said there’s a chance journalism might resurface at the college.
“I don’t think print journalism will, but maybe radio might have interest in the future and probably web, but it will need a lot of momentum and a lot of marketing to students,” she said.