The communications department is wasting its potential 


Andy Cotton

Kendal Manns

Kendal Manns, Editor-in-Chief

According to Maryville University, communications teaches students to become “effective critical thinkers, proficient in writing, speaking and strategic interpretation.” There are many different fields that these skills can be applied to including, media, law and business. As a communications major with a concentration in radio and television myself, I take the deficiencies in that department at Alabama State University very seriously. 

One thing I find bothersome is when people say that communications is an “easy major.” I think people get caught up in the glitz and glamor of it all and overlook the work done to produce it all. They can also take the enjoyment many have with their jobs as it being easy. Some students have graduated from this university but cannot do many of the things necessary for them to get and sustain long careers in the business. If you get a degree but cannot put a reel together or cannot interview someone, did you really deserve it? 

The university’s communication department suffers from a shortage of professors. With so many different concentrations like print, radio/television, recording technology and more, there should be enough professors to manage each concentration. Not only is that not the case, but you also have professors teaching too many classes leading to confusion among professors and students alike. 

I observed several classes this semester where one of my professors, Eric Knox, M.S., is teaching a majority, if not all, of the radio/television courses with multiple students in each one of his classes. 

I believe the lack of professors also creates less of a challenge for students. With professors being spread so thin, it can be hard for them to give each class the attention to challenge their students adequately. 

The building for the communication department is not up to par either. The building, which is across from the Chevron gas station on Hall Street, looks more like an eyesore than anything else. Upon entering the building, you can tell it is old and has been there for a while. The offices are old and run down. I have seen better bathrooms in fast-food restaurants. It just does not look like it is fit for what the department should be trying to do. 

Advisement is another big issue in the department. I know several students who feel like they have received less than satisfactory advice that has pushed back their intended graduation date. I believe I could have been advised better as well. Despite having multiple advisers in two years at the university, there was never a conversation about my target graduation date so when I was making my schedule last year I had a semester where I took 12 credits, not knowing I would have to take more classes in the following semester to graduate in May 2024. 

The issues with advisement can also be attributed to the lack of enough advisers for particular majors. I know personally, Mr. Knox is one of the only advisers with any radio/television experience. He obviously cannot advise every radio/television major so some may not have everything they need to graduate that is not required by the department like reels.

Adequate preparation is also a concern for me. Multiple alumni have come back to the school and addressed the lack of preparation they have going into their field. Ja Nai Wright, a reporter and multimedia journalist for the Alabama News Network, has stated many times that she had to do a lot of work on her own for her to gain a better understanding of the business. This is one of the most successful and recent graduates of the university. If she is saying she was not adequately prepared, the department should listen. 

The 2020 alumna attributed her struggles upon getting into the industry to outdated equipment and way of doing things. If we as communications majors are going to succeed at the next level, we need our department to improve drastically. 

The department does appear to be moving in the right direction with the hiring of a new department chair and professor W. Russell Robinson, Ph.D. He has been adamant about his plans to make the department challenging and more engaging for students. 

I would love to see him implement fresh ideas into the department. One of those ideas would be to make the major more challenging to get into and stay in. That could be done by having students take entry-level exams for freshmen and sophomores before they can take communications courses. This exam would ensure that only those who have a passion for and work ethic to master the art of communication are considered majors. 

As the Editor-in-Chief of The Hornet Tribune, I would love for more students to be involved with our organization. This idea could look like students who want to pursue careers in print or broadcast journalism working with The Hornet Tribune for at least a semester. This plan would give students a great depiction of what the future could hold for them if they stay with it. The department recently installed a brand-new set in the studio located on the fifth floor of the Levi Watkins Learning Center that has a lot of potential for current and future communications majors. 

I truly believe the department is going to improve. It has to. All of the reasons I mentioned previously show that attention to detail and a desire to improve the communication department can be an amazing showcase of the best the university has to offer. All it takes is one step in the right direction.