Letter from the editor: Last year was a lesson. I hope you were taking notes.

By Austin De Dios | August 23, 2021 1:22pm

Austin De Dios, editor-in-chief for 2021-22.

Media Credit: Brennan Crowder / The Beacon

It’s difficult to believe things look almost “normal” on our campus. Sometimes I blink, half expecting to open my eyes to another enervating Zoom call.  

I thought after over a year of isolation, I’d forget how to act. Many people probably share that same sentiment. And yet I look around and see laughter in the quads, friends reuniting and new faces settling in. There’s no denying that many of us are happy to be back; I know I am.

In a lot of ways, our time online is fading into a haze that I can hardly remember. It’s almost as if I had two different lives, and I can’t help but want to go back to the “good” one. The one before masks, before Zoom and before everything changed. That life is intoxicating, making it that much simpler to slip back into pre-COVID routines. 

But I have to come to terms with the truth. That life is over. It has to be. 

This last year and a half showed us things we’ll never forget and took things we can never replace. It was riddled with tragedy, heartache and disappointment. But in the chaos, it shined a light on something we might have never seen without it. 

It forced us to slow down and reevaluate our lives, to find what really mattered, and what didn’t. It showed us the things we loved the most by forcing us to live without them. 

In our pre-pandemic lives, we took things for granted. We let things go unseen and unheard. We accepted the status quo. That’s a luxury we can’t afford any more. 

Don’t let yourself go back to who you were before this all started. Don’t fall for the same old tricks just because it feels like we’ve found our way back to normality. Take this chance to grow, to be more appreciative of what’s around you and to understand what you want in your life.  

You shouldn’t take this in-person experience, or the people you meet because of it, for granted. Now’s your chance to make connections, establish new friendships and mend old ones in a way that’s right for you. 

If I’ve gleaned anything since this all started in 2020, it’s that life is unpredictable. As we’ve experienced with the Delta variant, things can change in the blink of an eye. We need to be ready to pivot and support each other, no matter what the future brings.

Be understanding, but don’t be passive. Continue to confront your University, to keep it in check and push it in the direction you want it to go as you have throughout the last year and a half. As a community, we can create change, both on this campus and beyond it. 

The conclusion of the investigation launched after former Vice President for Human Resources Sandy Chung published her op-ed in The Beacon outlined certain action items to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive environment at UP. It’s important we see these changes made. Hold them to their promises. 

The University is searching for a new president. Push the Board of Regents and administration to be more transparent with the process and include students, faculty and staff in the search. 

At The Beacon, we want to be a resource to help navigate this next academic year. We want to help tell the stories within our small bubble on The Bluff. We want to continue to push our institution towards transparency. Come hell or high water, we are here to provide information — and a platform — to our community. 

As this year’s Editor-in-Chief, I ask you to help us cover what’s important. Pitch story ideas through our website, reach out to our staff, write submissions for our Opinions section and be curious. Don’t let the status quo stand. You deserve more. 

I’m honored to have been appointed to the role, and I want to take this last year to serve UP’s students, faculty and staff as best I can by providing accurate and reliable information, and a safe platform. 

On a more personal note, don’t go back to that 2019 way of life. Continue to be appreciative of what you have, and those around you. Continue to seek change and growth. 

Oh, and keep taking notes. I have a good feeling this year will have a lot of important lessons, too. 

Austin De Dios is the Editor-in-Chief of The Beacon. He can be reached at dedios22@up.edu.