GAC TV

Sid Selveraj is one of the Gustavus Adolphus College students responsible for GAC TV, a weekly news magazine that airs before the weekly movies shown on campus.

John Cross
The Free Press, Mankato, MN

It was almost three years ago now when then Gustavus sophomore Sid Selveraj collected a handful of classmates to launch GAC TV. Armed with little more than an idea of what they wanted to do and seemingly endless ambition, the group embarked to add something to the college’s media landscape students had seen before; a news magazine television program produced by Gustavus students for Gustavus students.

Now in its third season, GAC TV has become a staple of media culture at Gustavus. It covers campus happenings, local events and issues affecting its primary audience: the student body.

The 15-minute news broadcast screened before on-campus movies is anticipated and expected weekly by students. Short comedy features have been a part of the program in the past, but were cut this year to focus the show into the news magazine format.

Selveraj explained that the goal has always been to have an outlet for audio-visual work “so that anybody who wanted to do some film work would have the opportunity.”

GAC TV has grown and evolved over the years, both logistically and conceptually. “This whole thing was an experiment to begin with,” said Gustavus Junior and current GAC TV president Katie Mason.

When Selveraj and others first started talking about the idea of GAC TV, there was talk of having a variety of campus-related programming, short films and footage of college sports and entertainment events coming together into an entire television station, with the news magazine program as a corner stone.

But that turned out to be a tall order for a small liberal-arts school to put together in one student’s college lifetime. “The resources and structure were just not here to support that,” explained Assistant Professor of Communication Studies and GAC TV advisor Martin Lang.

The forces behind GAC TV have focused their efforts on two areas: the weekly news broadcast and a series of issue-driven documentaries.

In January of 2005, a group of students including Selveraj spent a month in Mississippi volunteering in the Hurricane Katrina aftermath. Selveraj and others from GAC TV brought along cameras and documented the entire experience, which they then turned into a 30-minute film.

The following January, another team of Gustavus broadcast buffs led by Selveraj, traversed the country collecting stories about immigration and undocumented workers. Again they turned it into a 30-minute documentary to high praise both in the campus community and beyond.

This January, Selveraj is heading home to India with GAC TV’s production guru, Matt Filmore, to explore the effects of American policies in the developing world.

It’s hard to believe that all this work on both the documentaries and the weekly news broadcast is done by just a handful of full-time students. “Serious amounts of work fall on the eight to 15 shoulders of a dedicated few,” explained Lang.

It’s also an ongoing challenge. GAC TV relies on a core group of volunteers who get no payment or class credit with the skills and talent necessary for the multitude of tasks needed for a broadcast, from anchors and reporters to editors and technicians.

That’s part of the reason Selveraj decided to step down as president in this, his last year at Gustavus. He wanted to make sure there was someone else who would be ready to take up the reins after he graduated. It seems he found the right person, “Katie Mason is doing a fantastic job,” he said.

Another senior, Filmore, the production and editing guru of GAC TV, is leaving without an heir apparent. “Our editors put in a huge amount of time and they really get the brunt of the work,” said Mason explaining why, in addition to the skill required, it’s difficult to find new people for the production staff.

But everyone involved seems confident that the organization born out of a love of television and film by a group of young and ambitious students has a long future ahead of it. This year, according to Mason, more students show up to audition for an open reporter position than any opportunity previously.

“(GAC TV) is a really young organization,” said Selveraj optimistically. Where it’s going he said he didn’t know for sure but did say that the organization “has a huge amount of potential.”

You can find more information about GAC TV and watch past episodes at www.gustavus.edu/orgs/gactv/.

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