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Hye Sharzhoom at 25

Chris Tozlian
Staff Writer

Though it’s difficult to admit, I am currently enrolled in my twelfth consecutive semester at Fresno State. I know what you’re thinking… “Boy, he has really taken his time, hasn’t he?” Well, it’s true; I have been taking my time.

When I began attending Fresno State in the fall of 1998, there was no SaveMart Center, nor was there a Smittcamp Alumni House. Jerry Tarkanian was coaching basketball and the soccer program wasn’t in danger of being “cut.” I have seen six different Associated Student governments on campus, and have joyfully watched the multiple enlargements to the Q parking lot. Simply stated, there have been a great number of changes at Fresno State since I began my academic career.

While it may seem as if everything is changing on campus, there are a few elements of the university that have remained throughout the years, providing stability for those of us who aren’t exactly fond of change. One such is Hye Sharzhoom, which has withstood the test of time… twenty-five years to be exact.

When Hye Sharzhoom began publication in April 1979, Dr. Dickran Kouymjian, director of the Armenian Studies Program, and since 1991 Haig and Isabel Berberian Professor of Armenian Studies, was the newspaper’s advisor, and its first edition editors were Mark Malkasian and Bill Erysian. Now, twenty-five years later, which is exactly one advisor and twenty-seven editors later, the advisor is professor Barlow Der Mugrdechian and the editor is Sevag Tateosian. Though the advisor, the editor, and the writers have changed over the years, Hye Sharzhoom has remained the same. Its ongoing mission to provide accurate, timely information about Armenian people and events at the local, national, and global levels hasn’t changed.

In December, I had the opportunity to interview Matthew Maroot and John Jabagchourian, both of whom were past editors of Hye Sharzhoom. They reflected on Hye Sharzhoom and its successful longevity. Maroot was a staff writer for four semesters before becoming the newspaper’s editor during the Fall 1999 semester. Jabagchourian was a staff writer for two semesters before he became the newspaper’s editor for three semesters, from March 2000 through May 2001.

When asked about his favorite part of the Hye Sharzhoom, Jabagchourian explained that his favorite portion was, and still is, the varying opinion pieces. “The opinion pieces are what give the Hye Sharzhoom its flavor, a voice for Armenian students.” Jabagchourian went on to say that “These were the pieces that made the readers think; they were more than just a reporting of events.” Conversely, when asked the same question, Maroot responded, “I look forward to coverage of what’s going on with the Armenian Studies Program. Hye Sharzhoom serves as a vital link between the Program, current and former students, and the Armenian community throughout the world.”

Further along in the interview, Maroot explained that Fresno State students benefit from the Hye Sharzhoom because it “allows other students not involved with the Armenian Studies Program to gain a better insight into a program that has had such a tremendous impact on the campus and community as well.” Jabagchourian also discussed the newspaper’s on-campus presence, saying, “Students in general get an invitation to learn more about the diversity of their campus. The Hye Sharzhoom is a piece of literature that represents the history of Fresno and of the important contributions the Armenian Studies Program and [its] students make to the university.”

Both interviews ended with a question regarding Hye Sharzhoom’s ability to maintain reader interest, thereby maintaining both its reader base of 7,000 world-wide and its benefactor support over the years. To this question, Jabagchourian responded, “Hye Sharzhoom is one of a kind; no other Armenian student newspaper is what Hye Sharzhoom is. The unique perspectives that the students bring to Armenian news and the goings-on of the Fresno community provides readers and benefactors with something other Armenian newspapers do not.” Maroot mentioned “Hye Sharzhoom serves as an important link between the community and the students as well… [It] continues to be one of the most important publications available to the Armenian-American community, not to mention to Armenians the world over.”

Though the answers vary, the underlying sentiment is uniform. Hye Sharzhoom has been, and continues to be, an effective means of Armenian political, social, and cultural information at the local, national, and global levels. It is a welcomed source of information within the Armenian community, and it has benefited me personally, as it has brought stability to my ever-changing college experience. My personal sentiment toward Hye Sharzhoom is most clearly expressed in the words of Matthew Maroot: “Best wishes for another twenty-five years!”