From the Editor's Desk: How it feels to be editor-in-chief during a pandemic
As features editor last school year, I spent most of my Sunday nights spinning full-circle profiles out of one-hour interviews. There always seemed to be some sort of thread that strung throughout people’s lives. I spoke to a student who was argumentative as a toddler; like her parents predicted, she decided to pursue law. Wherever students were ending up, it always seemed meant to be. The fairytale story of fate was always there.
As I leave my current position as editor-in-chief of the Thresher, I’ve searched for reasons why I entered the Thresher in the first place, but I always come up blank. If I were writing this as a profile, I’d point to the time I wrote precisely one issue of “The Perez Times” for my parents one summer when I was seven. But to be honest, I didn’t join the Thresher with any big aspirations or dedication to journalism — I wrote my first article because I probably thought, “Eh, why not?” Maybe I thought writing for the Thresher would be cool, but I didn’t have a strong opinion either way.
I’ve always thought of my passivity as a flaw of mine — a reason why I was quieter than everyone else during editorial board meetings, why I never wrote an opinion piece during my time at the Thresher. I always preferred to listen, to hear my classmates’ thoughtful reflections on what aspects of our campus must change in order to protect students’ mental health and wellbeing.
But being editor-in-chief during a pandemic doesn’t let you stay opinionless for long. Through these few months, my co-editor Rishab Ramapriyan and I have had to make — dare I say, unprecedented — decisions: Whether to continue printing, how to manage a newspaper staff remotely and how to handle February’s snowstorm, to name a few. Attempting to engage with thirty muted Rice students over Zoom during Thresher staff meetings has made me more assertive than any motivational TED Talk ever could.
This opinion would be the perfect story if I ended it the way it began: With me leaving the Thresher as opinionless as I began. But that wouldn’t be honest; being part of the Thresher has given me nearly every opinion I have. It taught me that — despite how much I love the Thresher — I do not want to go into journalism. It taught me to value unbiased journalism, even as I developed strong opinions on many of the topics we covered. (It also taught me that, no matter how much discourse takes place in the Thresher’s Facebook comments, it’s never productive.)
Since I can't pursue the full-circle story structure I've practiced for years, I leave echoing the same call that former editors-in-chief have made. No matter what you're seeking — from your future career, extracurricular interests, or personal development — you'll find it in the Thresher. Whether you hate or love our content, there's a way to get involved, whether through writing, photography, videography, or design. Yes, I'm biased about how great the Thresher is — did I say I supported unbiased journalism? — but this is just one claim you can't fact check.
More from The Rice Thresher
Before you attend a counseling session at the Rice counseling center, you will be told that “the RCC maintains strict standards regarding privacy.” You will find statements from the university that your mental health record will not be shared with anyone outside of extreme situations of imminent harm, and only then that your information will be shared with only the necessary officials. This sounds great, except that these assurances bear no teeth whatsoever — no enforcement agency ensures that Rice follows its public confidentiality promises, and there are no penalties for Rice if they break them. The Wellbeing and Counseling Centers should more directly communicate the limits of their confidentiality policies when compared to unaffiliated counseling centers, and students in sensitive situations should take the necessary precautions to protect their information.
This week marks the last issue of the Thresher for the year, and for the seniors like myself, our last issue ever. I have been a part of the Thresher since freshman year. And it would not be an exaggeration to say it has defined my Rice experience. As someone pursuing a career in journalism after graduation, there has been no better place to learn than at this paper.
In January, the Rice Board of Trustees announced plans to move the Founder’s memorial to another area of the academic quad as part of a whole redesign, adding additional context of his “entanglement” with slavery. This comes despite continual calls from the student body to not have the enslaver displayed in the quad regardless of the context provided. It would be just for these calls to action and the majority of the Task Force Committee who voted to not keep it there that the Board of Trustees decide to not keep the memorial prominently displayed in the quad at all.