Other work by student reporters

The Midway Messenger is staffed by students in the Community Journalism classes of Professor Al Cross of the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media. Not all their work deals with Midway; for example, for many of them their major story is one about a community of which they are a member or with which they can identify. This page has some of their work.

UK journalism students, evicted from their ‘home,’ wonder where the school's permanent place will be

By Desiree Cross

As students in the School of Journalism and Media, each of us hold journalism near and dear to our hearts. In one of the smallest schools on the University of Kentucky’s campus, we students are well acquainted. And just before this semester our “safe place” went by the name of Grehan.

The Enoch Grehan Journalism Building was completed in 1951. The building was named for the university’s first journalism faculty leader. It was in the center of campus and was the home of the school, the Department of Communication and the Kentucky Kernel.
The Grehan Journalism Building, which will get a new name, sits behind a construction fence.
Soon after the end of the spring semester, Grehan closed its doors for 16 months for a full renovation. The project was approved in a 2016 legislative session and is expected to cost $23 million.

Dall Clark, the university’s director of capital project management, said Grehan’s renovation will address code and energy issues and make floor plans more flexible. “It’s basically restoration and modernization,” he said.

Blazer Dining was Blazer Hall, a name now on a new dorm.
As a result of this renovation, journalism and communication students are meeting in various classrooms around campus. For journalism, the old Blazer Dining Hall is our new “home.”

“For me, the transition hasn’t been great. It kind of seems as if they just threw our college anywhere,” senior broadcast journalism major Aaron Porter said.

Blazer has not only been a dining hall. In the past, it has been used as a classroom building, but mainly as living quarters for students. In fact, Blazer was the very first building I ever lived when I came to the University of Kentucky in summer 2014.

Blazer has three floors and a basement. The bathrooms and showers were community units when I lived there, as are they still. There is a dance studio at the front of the building. Some old dorm rooms are now used as offices for professors and others are being used as classrooms, after walls and doors were removed.

The transition to Blazer has been a challenge, I would say, for most. But what I think is the biggest challenge is the sentimental value students and faculty both connect to Grehan. Students from the University of Kentucky’s community of journalists had much to say about the building.

The building houses several units and programs.
Associate Professor Kakie Urch said, “I was an undergraduate and a Kentucky Kernel staffer in the 1980s. When I started, the Grehan basement still smelled of creosote from the presses that had been where the computer labs were later placed. . . I wrote the article that led to the founding of WRFL there. I worked with journalists who went on to win the Pulitzer prize there. I laid out the first issue of RiFLe, the WRFL program guide, working through the night on a Mac SE while we smoked cigarettes inside.”

Senior broadcast journalism major Charlie Schaefer said, “Grehan was like the student center for me and for most of the journalism students. We just felt so comfortable doing school work and hanging out. I hate to see it go.”

Some other recollections:

“I couldn’t imagine being anywhere other than Grehan during my time at UK. It was absolutely home.” --Journalism alumni Leslie Hobbs

“My favorite place to be was Grehan. It’s just that simple.” --Jack Pilgrim, senior broadcast journalism major

“The building held significance. It felt like home.” --Journalism alumnus Raenah Hawkins

So, will journalism and communication students ever be able to experience Grehan as “home” again? According to Clark, the answer is no. When renovation is completed, the building will be used for the College of Engineering. As for another journalism building, Clark responded, “There will be, or at least we hope it will be. … The goal is to build a new one on the northside of campus. . . . But at this point, we don’t have it funded yet.”

Urch said, “The loss of Grehan gives me more concern because I want to be sure that our Journalism and Media Arts and Studies students get all the facilities and access they need in the new building, and it also gives me concern for the gap time of construction and what they are able to learn in that gap time. My main concern is the legacy of top journalism and future journalism and media instruction. The building represents a commitment to the top 100 accredited journalism programs it houses, and we need to make sure the next building expands that commitment.”

Since entering my field in this community of journalism, I have, along with many others, found Grehan to be my second home. We would have long nights and early mornings. Most would sit in our “newsroom,” also known as Room 10, putting together television packages, video reel, writing stories, and editing audio for what seemed like an eternity.

Whether our journalism community will ever be able to find a new home or not is up in this air. As for students who pass through and experience the new “Grehan,” I hope they are able to recognize what sentiment and history was left behind in the center of campus. For now, we will just have to make do.

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