Friday, April 4, 2008

Where are our standards?

It has come to my attention that in the desire to seem professional, student activities might forget that they are student activities. The outcry of, "but in the professional world, that's just how it's done" or "but that's so not professional!" brings out little sympathy from me, seeing as we are not in the professional world yet and to behave in accordance with the professional world does not always work with student run activities and publications. There are different morals and ethics involved, as well as different factors that go into making these things run.

For example, I totally and completely believe that the people who did sound and light and set and props and costume in the Stern play should have come out at curtain call. These people gave up a lot of their time and effort in order to make the actors and the show look good and to acknowledge them only in the playbill is an insult. "But it's not professional," you might claim. Perhaps not, but then again, this is a student production. As someone mentioned to me recently - in the professional world, those backstage people would be making a lot more money than the actors on stage, so they would certainly be compensated for all their time and hard work, not to mention the feeling of being snapped at or bossed around by overly stressed actors. But in a student production, are the backstage people being paid? No. They get their name in a playbill and that's it. A poor repayment. Their talents and efforts are being showcased as much as the actors' are and yet they don't get the same acknowledgment and applause. And the argument of, "but no one would know who they were!" doesn't phase me, either. Either an actor or the director or the stage manager should get on stage and introduce them. It just bothers me that people will give up their time and energy to something and then they don't get to shine as much as the actors. This is a student production. No one is getting paid, no one is even getting school credit! They should at least get the applause and recognition they deserve (and thanking them as an afterthought is just patronizing).

Another example - this post by Chana about the Commentator's Purim issue where they publicly humiliated a girl just because she wrote a rather over-the-top letter (but a serious letter from her part, nonetheless) to the Observer. I know that no one is making the argument that in the professional world, such behavior goes on all the time, but I am anticipating that argument because it is the only one anybody can have against Chana's point. Humiliation may be acceptable in the professional world, but it should not be acceptable in a student publication. As much as we would like to mimic "real" newspapers (I put 'real' in quotes because a student paper is still real), we have to remember that we are still a student paper and must behave as such. We have ethics that other papers may not have. We have to respect the students of our school. Humiliating someone goes against the principles of the Torah - where humiliating someone is like killing them - and therefore goes against the principles of YU. It is completely unacceptable, even in a Purim joke issue.

Where are our standards, you guys?


Annie said...

As someone who works in the professional world. Humiliation is unacceptable here, too.

M.R. said...

I'm one of those who tends to wince when things are not done professionally--not always, but the vast majority of the time. There's usually a reason that when things go professional, they gain (or lose) certain, erm, attributes; namely, they're more pleasant to experience when done that way.

As for your specific example (hehehehe): while you're certainly correct about some of the backstage crew, as lighting operator, I can say that the biggest reward for me when I invest in something is for it to come out well, for it to come out as something of which I am proud, for it to come out, yes, professionally.
Right, so my point is that there are some (some=at least one) members of the backstage crew who were very happy that they weren't showing up at curtain call.