The independent student news organization of Nicholls State University

To Nicholls students: stand up for your rights

March 16, 2017

As an alumnus, I am embarrassed by the situation surrounding the La Pirogue yearbook and Nicholls’ administration’s decision to pull the funding without input from the student body – the people whose money they are moving around into funds that are vaguely labeled at best and broad and wide reaching.

Full disclosure, from May 2014 to May 2015, I served as editor of the Nicholls Worth, and the year prior I worked at the Nicholls Worth as a sports writer. As Student Publications is understandably near and dear to me, I attended the Student Government Association’s meeting to discuss the matter, but chose not to speak as I felt that was a forum for the people more immediately affected. I feel those who spoke did an amazing job of speaking for an institution of any university.

While reading a local newspaper, I read a quote from SGA President, Tommy Thibodaux. He said the fees, which the repurposed university assessed fee are going to are “good.” I don’t know whether to class that as weakness, naivety, ignorance or just woeful disregard for his peers.

This is not about the $10 which the University collects from each student each semester. If the administration purely had repurposing fees to better suit students’ needs in mind, I’m sure anyone can find others fees that Nicholls may or may not need.

This is about the money that’s in the yearbook’s account. Period.

The students will see no change in fees, and in all likelihood given the contingency of the state’s constitution and its budget, the governor cannot protect higher education forever. Fees or tuition will inevitably rise again.

To the students, your standing as freethinking adults capable of critical thought has been challenged. Your free speech has been suppressed. This is something that high school or middle school students can do without challenge. Not a university.

Educate yourselves and demand transparency. Demand accountability and demand answers.

I also read that the yearbook should be an unpaid internship. Let me give you an example of what Student Publications is for many students.

I didn’t receive TOPS during my four years at Nicholls. I didn’t receive any scholarships until my final year. I didn’t receive any grants. Every penny was paid out of my pocket. The $7.25 an hour I made from the Nicholls Worth allowed me to eat during the week. The $7.25 an hour I made from the Nicholls Worth allowed me to drive to campus. I drove a car with no air conditioning, that flooded when it rained, had a bad radiator, bad tires, bad brakes, all so I could chase the dream of a college education. And the $7.25 an hour from the Nicholls Worth when you’re trying to focus on that dream is tremendous help. I’m sure there are similar stories from next door at the La Pirogue office.

For anyone to say that Nicholls students, who, by and large, are first generation students from middle class backgrounds in a state where thousands of people are laid off monthly if not weekly, should work for free is massively disrespectful and spits in the face of every student who is struggling to make ends meet so four years from now they can have a shot at a better life. It’s inconceivable that anyone can be so shortsighted.

To the SGA, you can do something. You may have taken those positions for something nice to put on your resume come graduation, but no one really cares if all you did was sit at a table and bang a gavel for an hour.

Stand up for your fellow students. Stand up for yourselves. Stand up for the past, current and future alumni of Nicholls State University. Anything less than a willingness to fight  is a failure on your part, as a student, as a Colonel and as a person. You have the option of being the elected officials, because that’s what you are, who laid down when faced with a challenge or the elected officials who fought for your constituency.

Sean Ellis
Nicholls Class of ‘15

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