In her final piece in The College Voice, Ayla Zuraw-Friedland vaguely allusions to the ethical problems surrounding her tenure, with no mention of her controversial issue of March 2, in which she published three letters attacking Pessin and neither warned him, nor offered him the opportunity to respond. She also mentions her faculty mentor, Jim Downs.
I Guess This is It: Signing Off
Posted on May 5, 2015 by Ayla Zuraw-Friedland in Editorials
After 11 issues in print and one online of The College Voice as Editor in Chief and nearly 60 as a staff writer, section editor and senior editor over the past three years, it has all boiled down to an editorial that I am supposed to use to sum up everything that this one extra-curricular has done for me. It is an editorial that I have both dreamed and dreaded writing. I’m supposed to say something important, but I cannot quite grasp what that is.
I only had two goals when I started this year: 1) Do NOT go into debt. 2) Just keep things floating. No waves, just twelve passable issues. Finish your thesis. Pass it along. I never identified as much of a journalist, anyways.
Even looking back from this moment, I thank goodness that I only met one of those goals. I realize now how ridiculous that goal was and that it was reflective of my unwillingness to recognize what I now consider to be an undeniable fact about the newspaper; despite my best efforts, it has become a mirror of my own spirit.
It has become my way of asking: How can we leave this space better than when we found it?
Maybe that carries baggage that begs the question as to whether I have violated standards of journalistic integrity. But maybe it’s a question that I’m happy to ask and be asked anyways. Who am I to answer that on my own? The simplest answer is, that I never intended to. I believe that The College Voice is and should be a conversation space for everyone. If this year has taught our community anything, it is that words and language are powerful tools to wield.
I will never deny that this has been a year of mistakes and learning. I will never claim what I did was “correct,” but I will always stand by the fact that I was doing what I thought was right. But, despite all the media attention, positive and negative, this community was bombarded with from the outside, the world at large is not our audience. It is here. The College Voice is not called a “campus newspaper” for nothing.
I am lucky to have a team with me that have been equally consistent in asking similar questions. This staff rests on a long tradition of Strong Female Role Models (and also Dave Shanfield) that have shown me what it means to take risks, to take deep breaths through caffeine induced panic attacks and to take a second look at the “Final” edition of the paper, because it can always be better.
I thank Dana and Luca for being the most wonderful team. You’ve already picked up the baton and I can’t wait to see you run with it. Dana, you have been with me every step of the way, in every office meeting with the Deans that I thought would end in a fight, and involved in every late night food run I can remember. Thank you to our adviser, Jim Downs, for convincing me that gut feelings are the truest form of intelligence, and also that it is okay for some emails to go unanswered.
I thank my intrepid staff of editors, writers and designers for putting up with my disorganization and lack of direct eye contact or precise instructions. You’ve been through a hell of a ride. Thank you to the senior staff, Matthew Whiman, Ellie Storck, Dakota Peschel, Eleanor Hardy and Annie Rusk. You can all go into the world knowing that you have a beautiful, shiny title on your resume, and hopefully a few fond memories of broken computers and an abundance of chairs to go along with it.
I could write more. But what I want to close this with, in classic fashion, is a question. Where do we go from here?
At this point, support for the newspaper has come from within a network of dedicated students and faculty members. In a letter to campus last month, The College Voice was referred to as “our campus newspaper.” That was the first example I could remember of the campus at large or any administrator taking responsibility or ownership over this organization. As more and more media stories came out attacking specific members of the newspaper staff and the newspaper as a whole, it became clear that it would also be the last.
That means that, somewhere along the lines of “shared governance” and “accountability,” something got lost. How can the campus claim us as their own without offering support, whether that be by writing articles or in efforts to educate the staff as to what it means to have journalistic integrity? We want desperately to belong to you, to be a space you can trust, but that cannot be done without help. We need conferences and guidance and acknowledgment of the basic reality that we have been doing this on our own. We have a long way to go.
I am glad though, to have been along for at least the beginning of what I hope is a long run. I look forward to looking back. The shifting staffs and families are the most consistent home I have known at this school. Perhaps this editorial is so long because I know that the second that it ends, it is my last goodbye.