Returning students to the University of Portland hold a vivid image of the university in our hearts. Last year we chatted with our friends as we walked below ochre leaves, bare branches, torrential downpours and blooming cherry blossoms. We camped out in the library for hours as the sun rose and set, schemed in St. Mary’s and broke a sweat in Beauchamp. We experienced new friendships, personal growth and heartbreak all in the unique bubble of The Bluff.
Now, campus looks a lot different. The grass remains green and untrodden except by neighborhood families and dogs of all shapes and sizes. Buildings are for the most part vacant.
The visible glue of the University of Portland community has dissolved. For at least the fall semester, the university that we all knew has lost its physical roots, and the things that constitute a University of Portland student - the University Park residence or dorm pride, dark circles from long hours in the library and the clutched Franz coffee cup - are no longer as visible. Now, we rely on other, less obvious markers.
The year of 2020 has been wracked with tensions that have been brewing for much longer. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, fundamental cracks in our society have come to light. The upheaval of the BLM movement this summer demands acknowledgment of the systemic racism that has intrinsic roots in today’s societal structures.
Here at the University, various Instagram accounts this summer uplifted student voices that were previously going unheard. Students anonymously reported inequitable treatment, watching opportunities that they were denied being granted to white students of equal calibre. Then, an administrator utilized The Beacon’s platform to report her own experiences of deep racism and sexism from behind closed doors in Waldschmidt. These accounts cannot be ignored.
To be a University of Portland student should be more than the exorbitant tuition and donning the signature purple hoodies. To be a University of Portland student is not just affection for the alma mater that has shaped, or is soon to shape, your 20’s.
To be a University of Portland student is to demand the same accountability from the university you attend as you should of yourself, your friends and every facet of your life. Contrary to pop culture, true love is not blind. Love is a demand for improvement and a promise to help.
We’ve heard the politics, campaigns and Instagram stories. At this point, the buzzwords “accountability” and “transparency” have begun to feel emptier than our deserted academic buildings. Continued empty promises only create distrust among vulnerable populations.
In my time at The Beacon, we have reported on the 2018 Wally’s, the death of Owen Klinger, the assault of a university employee, the historic COVID-19 outbreak, and the reports of injustice from the epicenter of administration. We’ve also reported on dances, Rock the Bluff, generations of incoming freshmen nervously moving into their dorms, athletic losses and triumphs and clubs ranging from esports to neuroscience.
From a macro to micro scale, whether the citizens of a country or the members of an online course, clear and honest communication is desperately needed. At the University of Portland, The Beacon wants to help provide the community with the transparency that our students require to succeed and flourish. This year, we invite you to utilize The Beacon as a platform for information and an extension of your own voice. Suggest a story idea, write in to the Opinions section, reach out to a staffer you know and tell us what you want to know.
So - congratulations on logging in for this year. I’m honored to have been appointed as this year’s Editor-in-Chief. And as I embark on my final year at the University of Portland, I say we re-evaluate our prototype of a UP student. It’s time to cast away the complacency.
Gabi DiPaulo is the Editor-in-Chief of The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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