Letter from the editor: I don’t want to thank you, and I shouldn’t have to.

By Austin De Dios | April 28, 2022 9:06pm

Photo courtesy of Austin De Dios.

Dear readers, 

I know what you must be thinking. 

“What an entitled a**hole.” 

Yeah, okay. Maybe you’re right, but let me explain. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to say, all the hard work I wanted to highlight at The Beacon and at this school, and all that we’ve endured and overcome at UP during my time here.  

All I could think was that taking this moment to talk about my personal achievements didn’t seem right. Thanking everyone who played a part in these last four years just isn’t right either. My thanks will not make it all worth it, it won’t make all the pain and trauma disappear, it won’t validate the hard work that’s been done, it won’t rectify wrongs or make hard truths any less true. Before saying anything more, though, I must acknowledge where we have been in this last year. 

You already know, this year was hard. It’s been our job at The Beacon to try and report on those challenges justly, and in fairness. As we returned to campus for the first time in over a year, we unearthed a plethora of problems – many of which existed before the pandemic, and persist today. 

First, we must address the heartache and difficulty we have been met with since the pandemic began. We’ve lost family, friends and precious time in our lives. We will never get those things back. Everyone at UP has faced hardship because of COVID-19. We cannot forget it. 

Looking at UP internally, The Beacon shed light on the struggles of staff, who feel underpaid and underappreciated. We covered the diversity, equity, inclusion and justice assessment of our institution, of which it was found that many members of this community do not feel welcomed or accepted here. To that end, we’ve most recently covered the controversy surrounding the pastoral resident of Lund, and the call for his removal

The Beacon had its role in all this, and was heavily scrutinized for publishing the opinion “We have come too far.” Our editorial board defended our position, and in the end saw an influx of impactful opinion submissions defending inclusivity at UP. 

We’ve seen many friendly faces step away from our campus, including leaders in DEI work such as Sarina Saturn, and Yuri Hern​ández Osorio. Other familiar leaders, like Fr. Jim Gallagher, Br. Thomas Giumenta and Jim Ravelli have also announced their departure from the Bluff. Many others have moved on as well, and are sorely missed. 

But this year is not only defined by our struggle, and what we’ve lost. It is also what we achieved. UP brought students back to campus for two consecutive semesters, implementing a successful testing plan that allowed for a safe return in the spring. We also welcomed many new faces to UP to fill key vacancies and help us move forward. Many clubs and organizations were able to return to in-person events, resparking the flame of community amongst our student body. UP finally launched the Ethnic Studies Program — a feat that was long overdue. Students spoke up about the issues they’ve been facing, and have come together to carry on important advocacy work at this University. 

The Beacon made strides as well, including the launch of our diversity, equity and inclusion section – a section that will have an official editor next semester thanks to next year’s Editor-in-Chief Brie Haro. The publication won a Silver Crown Award from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, and several awards from the Society of Professional Journalism and the Pacific Northwest Association of Journalism Educators, among others. 

That’s a lot to cover in a year, and I’ve left a lot out. Through it all, my staff devoted themselves to their work. Their tireless effort was inspiring to me, and I will never forget it. Perfection was never an option, but we always gave it our best. I was blessed with talented and thoughtful journalists, and it has been an honor to watch them grow. Haro, and her ed-board, will do outstanding things next year. They’ve yet to take the wheel, but I’m already so proud of them. Our advisor, Nancy Copic, has been a true friend and mentor to all of us on staff. We are, and always will be, grateful for her guidance.

To my ed-board, you have supported me through the most challenging time in my life. There’s nothing I could say or do to repay that. 

Outside of The Beacon, I have watched the same tireless effort applied in other areas on campus. Students, staff, faculty and administration have all spent sleepless nights trying to better themselves and make this institution a better place. I’ve heard the stories, seen the tears and watched as heartbroken people picked up the pieces of their shattered dreams for UP, and forged them together again. 

I will not thank you, though. Any of you. Because thanking you would be insulting to what you’ve overcome. It would imply that my thanks, or anyone’s, is equivalent to your achievements, your courage and your pain. 

So if I cannot thank you, then I will challenge you instead. 

To all those who have left UP, take care of yourselves and remember where you’ve been. Know that you have all impacted this place. To my fellow seniors, bring the energy of change you’ve fostered here into the world. Make it a place where everyone feels they belong. To all the students, faculty and staff who will remain when we are gone, keep fighting. You have not won, and you never will. The struggle for inclusion, equality and fairness will never end, because there will always be progress left to make. We cannot move forward without acknowledging that truth. 

But my broader challenge to everyone, past and present, is to continue to be hopeful. Find hope in what you have. When we experience pain and loss, we can forget the things around us that keep us strong. 

We cannot erase our wrongs, but we can learn from them. Be hopeful that these lessons will not be forgotten. Be hopeful that, with so many vacancies and a new president at UP, this institution can change for the better and become the place we all wish it was. This is an opportunity to change the narrative we have all grown so tired of living. Do not let it pass. Be hopeful that your efforts are not in vain. 

I challenge this community to approach their differences with compassion and respect. I challenge you to find constructive solutions, and to build each other up instead of tearing one another down. Change can be made in many ways, but change that lasts is built on a foundation of respect, love and understanding. 

The Beacon is meant to be UP’s student voice. But we are not just a voice for students. We are a voice for this community, and a platform for those voices to be heard. We are tasked with seeking the truth, and reporting it. To my staff, I challenge you to never forget your purpose, and the importance of your role as student journalists. I challenge you to carry that mission into other facets of your life. You will be better for it. 

And finally, I challenge you all to forgive me for not thanking you for all you’ve done. It is not that I am not appreciative of these last four years and my career at The Beacon. It’s that I care for and respect everyone who played their part too much to insult them with inadequate words. 

As ever, 


Austin De Dios was the Editor-in-Chief of The Beacon. He can be reached at austin.dedios22@gmail.com