A reporter and photographer from The Sun News requested to join our section of English Composition 101 on the first day of class this semester. They observed the first 50 minutes we spent together discussing the syllabus, class expectations, and what it means to be a student writer at Coastal Carolina University. We thought the article would showcase our sense of inquiry and engagement as incoming students. We were not only disheartened but also highly disappointed when we saw the photograph chosen to represent us on the front page of the paper on Aug. 21.
The image that accompanied the article (“Students back for fall classes at Coastal Carolina”) depicts student Ian John leaning back in his chair, eyes closed. Did he lean back in his chair during the last remaining moments of a generative writing activity? Yes. Did that moment represent the kind of work he did during the rest of the class? Not at all. Did it provide the surrounding community with a clear understanding of our class, the class of 2016, or the work being done at Coastal Carolina University? No.
The photo published on the front page of The Sun News misrepresented our class and Coastal Carolina as a whole. The picture makes it seem as though Coastal students do not take school seriously, but that we, as one online commenter stated, “[use] mommy’s and daddy’s money to party all night and sleep in class.” That is not true. Most of us are here to learn. As the photo slideshow included online (“CCU starts fall semester”) makes clear, we were active and engaged students during our first class meeting.
We wish The Sun News had shown us as a thriving, ambitious group of students to provide a more contextualized picture of the project we embarked upon that Monday in August.
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The letter was also signed by the students of English Composition 101, section 13.