COVID will not silence us and it shouldn’t silence you
Many of us aren't on campus, but that doesn't make our voices any less loud
When classes first started, I excitedly opened the door to my new office and sat down as The Spectrum’s new editor-in-chief.
When I sat down, I felt the seriousness of my position but I accepted it happily. I was happy to know that I made it this far and that people were rooting for me as a black woman taking a role of leadership in a predominantly white institution.
As EIC, I promised my staff we would become a paper that includes more stories from our students of color because I felt they weren’t heard.
Being black and a minority in a predominantly white school, I understand how it feels to be left out of the conversation, to feel as though you aren’t important.
I was afraid the coronavirus pandemic would take away the experience of amplifying our minority students’ voices. I worried our inability to protest on campus or organize town hall meetings on race would allow UB to ignore or downplay the racial problems on our campus.
I assumed not being on campus to confront administrators directly about what they were doing wrong, such as not being transparent on how they allocate money in their budget, was going to prevent change from happening.
But although only ⅕ of UB’s students are on campus, we can still hold those in power accountable.
After campus shut down, throughout the spring semester, students and professors eagerly contacted us. We posted many letters to the editor, many of which focused on how UB was failing its minority students. We also posted articles about social injustice events around campus, as well as articles discussing how it is unfair UB is forcing students and teaching assistants to come to campus amid a pandemic.
It was clear then, but it’s even clearer now: there is nothing more important than holding those in power responsible and having our students’ voices heard.
The Spectrum has reported on: the African American Studies program not having enough black faculty, the Black Lives Matter Movement, the lack of diversity among College of Arts and Sciences faculty and students and the need to rethink building names.
But there is still so much more to say and so much more to do.
Recently, COVID has dominated our minds and pages.
That’s because it has affected all of our community. Many of our classmates and professors have lost grandparents, parents, siblings and dear friends. Our college experience has shifted radically.
But, that does not mean we have forgotten the social injustices happening in our halls and virtual platforms and the necessary changes UB still needs to make.
To my fellow minority student body, I have seen the energy and power you bring to your protests and I know this pandemic will not silence it.
Going forward, The Spectrum will become more community-based, putting out more student reaction pieces such as, how freshmen are coping with life on campus or from home during COVID and how students feel about UB’s coronavirus testing.
We are also working on improving our engagement with you, our readers. We are increasing our social media presence and will soon begin promoting social media takeovers by select members of our student body. During these takeovers, we will allow editors and other UB community members to share their perspective through video of anything interesting happening around them on campus, something they created during quarantine or any interesting adjustments they have had to make during the pandemic.
To get a better sense of what students want to see, we are initiating online polls. Our first one will be soon about the 2020 U.S. presidential election. But we will also do fun polls on romance during COVID, how many people wear masks while walking on campus and much more.
We are also working on a new look for our website so watch for it and tell us what you think.
I am excited about these changes. I hope they help connect us as a community during this strange and historic semester. I am proud to be at the helm of this almost 70-year-old independent student newspaper and hope everyone feels comfortable bringing their concerns to us. I encourage everyone to reach out to us.
Speak your mind, Tell us about the change you want to see on our campus. Join our staff.
We see you and will continue to be your voice.
Alexandra Moyen is the 2020-21 editor-in-chief and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @AlexandraMoyen