EDITORIAL: Student journalists — on the front lines of history

By The Beacon | February 24, 2022 10:00am

Canva by Brie Haro.

Last week, The Beacon posted an opinion submission about the relationship between the LGBTQ+ community and the Catholic Church. This opinion opened the floodgates of UP community voices speaking out against homophobia and transphobia within the Catholic Church. The opinions section has been livelier than it has been in a long time, garnering the perspectives of UP students, staff and faculty.

Though many have disapproved of The Beacon’s actions over the past week, our role at UP has remained consistent: to chronicle the viewpoints of our community; to write the first draft of UP’s history. In doing so, we have cultivated an opinions section of respectful difference, critical commentary and diverse values. 

This Thursday, we celebrate Student Press Freedom Day as UP’s student-run news publication. Student journalism advocates for the transparency that is crucial to holding our institutions accountable, and as a result, it reminds our peers that their voices matter; their voices make a difference.

In the past year, as the COVID-19 pandemic raged on, we were tasked with adjusting back to in-person schooling. We learned how to be flexible, and in the meantime, the fight for progress on campus hasn’t halted. 

But necessary to this progress is truth. Despite the many adjustments that the past year has asked of us, we have continued to keep our eyes open, ask questions and seek out the truth. 

Student media is more than an activity on campus. It’s more than a stepping-stone for aspiring journalists. Student journalists often act as the historians of their institutions. We don’t take this responsibility lightly at The Beacon — and even when it means navigating tumultuous situations or relationships on campus, we exist to serve the community.

Student media provides a platform for UP’s many voices, making it possible to facilitate difficult conversations like those surrounding the LGBTQ+ community and the church. Student media gives insight into the troubles that staff and faculty face behind closed doors. Student media documents the University's handling of a series of unprecedented events, not the least of which include the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This year, in reckoning with our responsibility to document the history of UP and hold the institution accountable, The Beacon added a DEI section to our website, amplifying the voices of historically marginalized communities. This was a necessary step to documenting the struggles of these populations within the UP community. 

In the past few months, we have witnessed the success of initiatives on campus like Pilots Matter Period. We have said goodbye to a community staple, Portway Tavern. We have welcomed Shantay Legans, the new men’s basketball coach, and Michael DeVaughn, the first African American Dean of the Pamplin School of Business. And we have watched UP bring students back on campus for both semesters after a year of online schooling. 

All the while, The Beacon has remained true to its role as historians of our campus. As a student-run publication, we don’t believe in one-sided conversations. This Student Press Freedom Day, we encourage students to engage with the ever-progressing history of this University. Ask questions, share your opinions, make your voice heard, and be the arbiter of change. After all, our time here is limited. Let’s make it count.

Have something to say about this? We’re dedicated to publishing a wide variety of viewpoints, and we’d like to hear from you. Voice your opinion in The Beacon.