I don’t believe there’s an easy way to describe the last 18 months. From an extended Spring Break in 2020, which I admit had me excited at first, to venturing into the world of Zoom lessons and empty sporting events – our generation of students has prominently shown one thing: resilience.
Nowhere have I seen that resilience more than among the staff at the Daily Helmsman. Last year, a short staffed group of students put out a weekly print edition, published a sports magazine and would write stories exclusively for online publication. Never was a deadline missed or challenges not overcome, which I will unabashedly brag about constantly to those who will listen.
The survival of the student newspaper should come as no surprise, though. Founded 90 years ago this year, the Daily Helmsman has always found ways to publish through trying times. During a World War II paper shortage, student journalists wrote stories on manual typewriters and pinned them to bulletin boards around campus.
When virtual classes kicked in, I was a sophomore reporter for the Daily Helmsman. The following fall I became the managing editor for this publication. Now, as the senior editor-in-chief, I’m incredibly excited to announce the next step of the independent student news organization. The Daily Helmsman will evolve, as news media always does, into a mostly online news outlet.
Special occasions will be marked with print editions that can be found around campus, such as the one that might be in your hands right now, and we will continue to publish our award-winning ROAR magazine. As a fan of printed products myself, I’ll always be excited to see students perusing the pages of my colleagues’ work.
Seeing a print edition back on the newsstands, in the hands of students, and lying in various places around campus will continue to bring a smile to my face. However, I am incredibly excited for our new readers who will receive the content online. As always, I and my colleagues are available for tips about anything occurring on campus or around the campus area. If you find any lapses in our coverage, our inboxes are open and waiting.
Now, onto the elephant in the room. The pandemic is far from over, especially in Shelby County, but we are seeing many parts of our lives returning to normal – or almost normal. Campus is no longer a ghost town and, for students seeing it for the first time, welcome to a true college experience. With the majority of classes returning to in-person learning, the chatter of students walking between classes, hanging out in the UC, and the scribbles and whispers in the library have returned in full force. And man does it feel good.
But just because we are back on campus doesn’t mean we should forget what all of us have experienced for 18 months. There are still precautions to be taken as we aren’t out of the dark, seemingly endless tunnel the pandemic created just yet. But the light is closer than ever before.
As we reunite with friends, colleagues, professors and staff, please stay safe, Tigers. There is a long road ahead of many of you. Many homecoming concerts, deafening sporting events, and new experiences await you on campus. But if the last year and a half has taught us anything, it’s just how easily that can be pulled away from us.
For the safety of everyone, wear a mask and I urge you to get vaccinated. Those two things could make or break the on-campus experience. Fighting this virus is a team effort that everyone should participate in and the more who join the fight, the faster we can exit the aforementioned tunnel.
Now, to my fellow graduating seniors: let’s give this a go one last time and create solid bookends of our turbulent academic careers. To those I have not had the opportunity to meet yet: I can’t wait to read your stories in the Daily Helmsman’s new form.