As fall classes are finally underway, you’ve probably had the point drilled in your head already: this semester is gonna be weird.
And while most of campus is adjusting its operations to be suited for a pandemic world, The Sunflower is no exception. Instead of printing twice a week, we’ll be printing only on Mondays for a couple of reasons.
First, there will simply be fewer people on campus this semester at any given time. Second, producing one paper instead of two gives The Sunflower’s staff more room to work from a distance and stay safe. Don’t fret though — we’ll still be doing daily coverage on our website, and you can expect each issue to be a bit more packed considering we’ll have fewer issues overall.
During my time as editor, I want The Sunflower to continue to be a reliable, independent source of news for students at Wichita State, while growing its connection to the campus community.
As a student publication, I think one of The Sunflower’s most important obligations is to provide a voice for the voiceless. We can serve our readers best when people from all backgrounds feel like they have a seat at the table. And as the university’s historical record, how can we be accurate unless we’re in tune with the struggles and triumphs of students from diverse backgrounds?
Whether it’s writing a letter to the editor, sending a news tip, or applying for a position on staff, I want students to know that they can use The Sunflower to amplify their voices or shine light on issues that otherwise might not get noticed.
The biggest challenge for Wichita State in the coming year will be its response to the coronavirus outbreak and its human and economic impact. Many students may not be able to return to class, especially if they’re facing their own hardships, and online learning has proved not to be a universal substitution for in-person instruction.
State universities, already facing tens of millions in lost revenue, will have to find funding elsewhere. Given WSU’s track record and the fact that the state of Kansas will also be facing huge revenue losses in the coming year, it seems likely that the university will turn to private resources.
And while there can be some benefit to public-private partnerships, they’re often obscured from public scrutiny and come with a lot of questions. That’s where I think The Sunflower comes in.
As a student newspaper free of editorial oversight from the university, we can be the ones to ask tough questions and make sure the university’s decisions are made in the best interest of the campus community.
The Sunflower also plays a critical role in preserving the stories from this historic point in time. Through the brand new Wichita Journalism Collaborative, The Sunflower will be cooperating with other local news organizations to cover the COVID-19 pandemic.
The project allows students journalists to pick up bylines in well established professional organizations, while also giving us the opportunity to pick up some high-quality coverage of the coronavirus.
Despite the big challenges we all face in the coming semesters, I’m optimistic about serving in this role. I have a passion for storytelling, and over the years since I joined The Sunflower’s staff I’ve seen its ability to inform, connect and empower people. I hope I can lead the newspaper in a way that inspires other student journalists and helps establish truth in truly uncertain times.