To the Bates College community,
This is the final Bates Student newsletter for the 2020-21 academic year, and my last as editor in chief. As this year comes to a close, I would like to provide some perspective on several of our initiatives, introduce the next leaders of The Student, and share some parting remarks.
I am incredibly proud of our work this past year and of the staff members who made The Student the best I have seen in my four years at Bates. Seventeen of our 24 members were new to staff this year and had to learn their roles and navigate the COVID-19 pandemic at Bates at the same time. With so much change and uncertainty, these people and our small pool of dedicated contributors together improved the presence of The Student in the Bates community. We encountered many challenges, but through all of the difficulties of this year, we retained a relatively regular digital publishing schedule. Beyond this, The Student was also active during summer and winter break to cover important news, which is unprecedented for our publication.
We recognize our unique position within the Bates community and the responsibilities which come with being a source of information. Particularly this year, we have strived to provide critical, timely information and bring the community together during a time of distance and digital interactions.
Equity and Inclusion
In the fall of 2020, The Student established a committee focused on improving access and inclusivity within the newspaper. We recognize that if The Student truly wants to be the voice of Bates College, we need to actively work to broaden the perspective of our staff, contributors, and published articles. Members of the equity and inclusion committee met several times with Nicolette Mitchel, the director of equity and inclusion education at Bates, for guidance while creating and working toward our goals.
One of the initial goals set by the committee was to write a statement which reflects The Student’s commitment to elevating all voices of the Bates community. After weeks of writing and revisions, the committee presented the following statement to staff for consideration. It was adopted as the official equity and inclusion statement of The Student in April of 2021.
The Bates Student recognizes our history, our institution’s history, and the history of journalism itself as exclusionary and extractive on multiple fronts. As a campus community and student organization composed of different racial, gender, sexual, religious, political, and other intersectional identities and backgrounds, we seek to discuss, analyze, and reflect on issues affecting our campus and the world at large. The Bates Student is committed to pursuing stories with care and respect to all community members.
Beyond this statement, editors of The Student also began to actively seek out article topics which celebrate Bates’ diverse communities and elevate marginalized voices about campus and national issues. We also created a new position on staff for the upcoming year which will be tasked with furthering The Student’s equity and inclusion initiatives. The community outreach coordinator will be responsible for leading the equity and inclusion committee, organizing training and discussions for staff members, and increasing The Student’s outreach efforts. While we recognize that we are still far from reaching our goals, The Student is committed to adopting equitable policies and training staff members to approach all members of the community and sensitive issues with respect.
Transition to Digital-first Publishing
Since I became a member of The Student in September of 2017, the paper has changed tremendously. When I was a staff writer for the sports section of the paper four years ago, The Student printed 600 copies each week with eight pages. We had just four sections – news, forum, arts & leisure, and sports – and section editors struggled to find the writers needed to write four articles each week. At this time, The Student had a website, but the primary focus was on the print edition.
In my sophomore year, we began publishing every other week due to rising printing costs and to reduce the stress placed on section editors. Our website was hacked, and we had to rebuild our digital presence from the ground up. We continued with a biweekly publication cycle for 2019-20. After the pandemic hit in March 2020, we bolstered our efforts to improve The Student’s website and increase our activity on social media. It was a sudden transition, but The Student was able to take on a new, more prominent role within the Bates community because of it.
I can’t say for certain, but I expect that 2020-21 is the first academic year where The Student was not regularly published in print during the paper’s 147 years. This was a difficult, but necessary decision. Digital publications cost significantly less than print publications, and they allowed us to be more flexible through the uncertainties of the pandemic. The incoming editor in chief and managing editor plan to continue prioritizing digital publications next year, but they expect to print more regularly than in 2020-21.
I am excited to announce that Jackson Elkins ‘22 and Georgina Scoville ‘22 will be the next editor in chief and managing editor, respectively. Jackson and Georgina are three-year members of The Student and were selected by the staff to lead the paper next year. I have worked closely with both Jackson and Georgina over the last three years, and I feel confident that they will be excellent leaders and will continue to improve the quality and content of the paper.
Jackson has been a member of The Student for three years. Before Bates, he was a four-year member of The Choate News at Choate Rosemary Hall, where he led the sports section during his senior year. He began writing for the sports section of The Student as a first-year, and took on a greater role as the assistant sports editor during his sophomore year. After the pandemic hit in March 2020, he took the lead on the sports section and has worked to provide accurate, up to date information on the state of Bates and NCAA athletics this past year. He is a double major in economics and European studies at Bates and a member of the cross country and track & field teams.
Georgina, too, became involved with The Student in her first year at Bates. She wrote articles and was later hired as a layout editor. In her sophomore year, she helped direct the content of the news section as an assistant news editor. This year, she led the design team as the managing design editor but was also regularly involved with editing articles for publication. She is an economics major at Bates and is also the president of Women in Economics.
Both Jackson and Georgina will assume these positions following graduation on May 27.
When I first came across The Student’s office in my first week at Bates, I had no intention of joining the paper. I wrote for my high school paper for two years, but I was set on prioritizing my academics and commitment to the cross country team. Sarah Rothmann ‘18, a teammate and the managing sports editor at the time, recruited me to write for her section. Despite my initial reservations, it didn’t take much for me to agree. Four years later, my Bates experience is completely inseparable from my work with The Student.
I sometimes wonder when The Student went from an organization I was involved in to a core part of my personal identity. My work with The Student has always given me a strong sense of purpose, and it allowed me to connect with the Bates community on a deeper level than I would have otherwise. However, working for the paper isn’t easy. The workload over the years has often made me feel like I have five classes, and there are times when I can’t even stand to answer an email, much less read or write an article. As with anything, there are positive and negative aspects of our work. Ultimately, I think it is my love for Bates and the people here which has pushed me to devote so much of my Bates experience to The Student.
This year was nothing like I expected it to be. Plans which were years in the making were scrapped in order to adapt to our new reality. As we worked to improve the quality of our coverage in our four existing sections, we added a fifth, features, and increased the size of the editorial staff. We published more hard, breaking news, and leaned on our social media platforms to share short updates fast. We delved deeper into serious topics, publishing lengthy articles about public health concerns, Campus Safety, and student activism. We incorporated surveys and special editions on the 2020 election and sexual health into our coverage.
One of the hardest things I had to come to terms with these past few years is that I can’t do everything on my own. The success of the paper is not vested in one person, not even several people. We were able to meet the challenges we faced this year and improve the quality of our coverage because we had a group of people who were passionate about our work.
Before my time with The Student, I had never seriously considered journalism to be a viable career path. Even now, I have reservations about it. Journalists are not paid well; they work long, irregular hours; and often the only feedback they receive is negative. My time with The Student and the Sun Journal has convinced me otherwise. Following graduation, I will intern with The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting where I will be investigating environmental issues in Maine. I plan to continue pursuing environmental journalism and see where it takes me.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge some incredible people who have gone above and beyond to support me and The Student. As I noted above, The Student would not exist without its staff and contributors. Although I can’t thank each of them individually here, many went above and beyond their roles this year in their work with The Student. These are the people who made me incredibly proud to be the editor in chief of The Student, and I am truly gratified to have watched them grow and succeed this year.
Sarah Rothmann ‘19 and Christina Perrone ‘20 are some of the best people I have ever worked with on The Student and had the pleasure of calling friends. The Student wouldn’t be the paper it is today without their leadership and late nights spent in the newsroom.
Mark Mogensen and Steve Collins from the Sun Journal have been extraordinarily generous with their time and advice. Their teachings made me a better journalist and better leader of The Student. Mary Pols, Bates’ media specialist and a friend, has also gone above and beyond to advise our staff as a veteran journalist. These people have provided much-needed professional perspective to The Student.
Beverly Johnson, my amazing thesis adviser, has always supported me in all of my endeavours, and The Student is no different. Even when I was distracted from my academic work, she recognized the importance of The Student to me and the community. Her perspective as a member of the faculty has been invaluable, and she will always be my favorite person here at Bates.
I have a slew of friends who have listened to me talk on and on about The Student for years. These are the people who have been excited for The Student’s successes because they knew how much it meant to me. When I struggled with critical feedback or leading the paper, they listened to me and supported me. I never would have been able to make it through these last few years without them. I would like to give a big shoutout to my roommates and friends Tucker Barber ‘21, Alex Brovender ‘21, Christopher Barker ‘21, Thaddeus Gunther ‘21, and Oliva LaMarche ‘20, who never reality wanted to listen to newspaper talk, but did it anyways because they are truly the best kind of people.
Lastly, I want to thank the Bates community for reading our articles and supporting our work. Every kind note, comment, email, or tweet you have written has not gone unnoticed, and it helps keep us going when things get tough.
Editor in Chief 2020-21