Letter to the Editor: Former Quest Editors on Role of Student Publications

To the Reed community:

We are alumni and former editors of student body publications, including the Quest, the Grail, and the Reed College Creative Review. We learned from the Sept. 28 and Oct. 9 issues that the Quest’s print budget will no longer be funded as a line item by the Student Body Senate. 

A healthy ecosystem of student publications at Reed enriches the student body, the broader community, and the college. The Quest is Reed’s newspaper of record, longest standing student publication, and holds several roles mandated in the Senate bylaws. We echo the desire to increase equity between student publications, and believe this will be best accomplished by improving access to both print funding and wages for any and all student publications, rather than removing funding for the most financially accessible publication for those who need to work. 

Senate’s proposed budget reconfiguration does not amplify underrepresented student voices and instead adds bureaucracy to the Quest funding process and jeopardizes the paper’s ability to hold Senate to account. Requiring the Quest to apply for print funding each semester creates a perception of Senate interference in campus news coverage. With these changes, Senate also endangers a stable platform for student speech, risks losing student-sourced institutional memory, and reduces the Quest’s ability to serve its expected and mandated roles.

The introduction of the Quest’s line item in academic year 2010–11 was an important and beneficial reform to protect Quest’s autonomy, increase stability, and avoid bureaucracy. Without employing semesterly financial control of the paper, the student body holds the Quest to account by electing its editors. The Quest has been privileged in its recent access to consistent print funding and wages; this funding structure has meant that students seeking to establish new publications, such as those for and by students of color, have faced additional bureaucracy and financial barriers to entry when The Quest in recent years has not. Guaranteeing print funding and wages to all student publications would increase equity across the publications and ensure representation of marginalized students and voices, in the present and for the future. Senate could decide to fully fund all student publications, regardless of Top 40 ranking status. These funding changes mask that reality.

While Senate’s recent move to guarantee funding for the Quest website will increase the likelihood of the website staying online, a digital version of the Quest has proved to be insufficient. The Quest has seen its own website and all content disappear on several separate instances, due to complications in turnover from board to board, confusion or conflict around whose responsibility it was to manage the website and pay its bills, and consistency in allocation of funding. All online content posted online prior to September 2018 has been lost.

Passing a stack of Quests in the library lobby is an invitation into campus discussions, especially for those who may not check the website. The printed Quest showcases campus news in a way that a website cannot. The physical artifact of the Quest also is an important and continuous source of institutional memory for the student body, for senate, and for researchers, who use the printed issues that the library binds for their archive.

Though the Senate has proposed continuing line item funding for the Quest’s mandated roles, such as communicating candidate information for elections, informing the community of Judicial board decisions, and publishing the blotter, guaranteeing support only to print content representing the newspaper’s mandated roles jeopardizes The Quest’s credibility and ability to report. Without continued print funding for the entire Quest, the community is in danger of losing regular reporting on serious issues affecting Reed.

Guaranteeing print funding to the Quest, and to all student publications, creates stable platforms for all to share their perspectives and participate without unnecessary barriers to entry. As the bookplate on every book in the library states, litera scripta manet: the written word remains.


David James ’19, Quest editor spring 2017–fall 2017

Gatlin Newhouse ’19, Quest editor fall 2016–fall 2017

Brandon Novy ’19, Quest editor fall 2015–spring 2018

Laura Dallago ’18, Quest editor spring 2016–fall 2016

Josh Lash ’18, Quest editor spring 2016–fall 2018

Quinn Spencer ’18, Quest editor spring 2016–spring 2017

Vikram Chan-Herur ’17, Quest editor fall 2014–fall 2016, Grail editor spring 2014–spring 2016, and Creative Review editor fall 2013–spring 2016

Lauren Cooper ’16, Quest editor fall 2013 and Grail co-founder and editor 2014–2016

Brendan Sorrell ’16, Quest editor fall 2013 and Grail editor spring 2014–spring 2015

Jordan Yu ’16, Quest editor fall 2013 and Grail editor spring 2014–spring 2016

Rachel Fox ’15, Quest editor spring 2012–spring 2013 and Creative Review editor fall 2012–spring 2015

Andrew Garcia ’15, Quest editor 2012–2013

Kieran Hanrahan ’15, Quest editor spring 2012, fall 2012, spring 2013, spring 2014

Sasha Peters ’15, Quest editor spring 2012–spring 2013

Katelyn Best ’13, Quest editor fall 2011

Chris Lydgate ’90, Quest editor 1985–86

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