Letters from the Editors: A look back

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Editor-in-Chief: Aaron Credeur

One day a few months ago, I found myself deep within some online political forum, sifting through comment after comment of people alternating between hyperbolic criticism of Donald Trump and others obnoxiously defending him on their lives.

  As expected, the conversation had devolved to a point of appalling personal insults and expletives — you know the kind.

Then, as I scrolled down, I found one user, who stated an opinion, followed by a simple phrase: “… but I don’t know, I might be biased.”

As all of us at The University News prepare to move on to a new year of school or some other stage in our lives, I find myself examining the past year and the progress we’ve made as a community.

We’ve seen the beginnings of new developments on campus, considered questions of equality, mourned the deaths of fellow faculty members and students, looked at administrative policies,  and covered other debates of religion or school heritage.

But more than anything else, as I get ready to bring my time at the University of Dallas to an end, I’m thinking about how this school can better uphold its mission beyond this little student newspaper – big thoughts, I know, but what else has UD taught me if not how to dabble in lofty philosophical questions?

I was just recently asked by a professor what changes would be important for the university in the future and as new faculty are hired.

At the time, I could only think of that cliche attribute of transparency in administration, something that’s always a dream come true for any aspiring journalist.

But now I think a more accurate diagnosis of where UD — and the country as a whole — can improve is the way in which we engage in political discourse.

I won’t jump on the “fake news” bandwagon, but it seems to me that the state of debate and rhetoric in the media has only continued along its long trend of decline.

Yet if there’s any place fitted to act against such a trend, it’s UD.

We are taught here to think independently, to approach any debate with an open mind, a charitable spirit and a prudent tongue.

Of course, that’s a lesson I’ll have to keep working on myself, but I’ve often been worried by students or faculty who simply seem unwilling to play by the rules of responsible discourse — here, a small community of people united in a similar pursuit of virtue.

Just like the world outside the Bubble, I think we’ve all seen insults flung and opinions blindly asserted on campus.

Admittedly, I’m not mentioning the many other instances when I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the level of dialogue on campus. But still, we can do better at UD.

It’ll be a long process, but it is also a necessary one if we intend to take seriously the pursuit of truth on which we pride ourselves.

And I think it all begins with being willing to admit potential faults in our own opinions.

At UD, we are trained to be those rare people on the internet who recognize that they might be biased, who are willing to actually consider other perspectives either to enrich their own or to disagree responsibly.

But in the end, as the band Portugal. The Man sings, we’re not here to be “rebels just for kicks.

-Editor-In-Chief Aaron Credeur


News Editor: Riley Beckwith

As news editor, I cannot express how proud I am of our section’s growth. My writers and fellow editors have helped me face challenging and complex stories, and we have come out the other side with a fuller understanding of the value journalism brings to its community.

My greatest pleasure as news editor has been watching each of my writers show me their distinctive voice and interests. A lot of lovely, exciting and quirky things happen at UD, and it’s impossible for me to always know what they are, and so I am grateful to all of my writers for bringing their own story ideas to me. They have made the news section as varied and dynamic as the University of Dallas community.

We have covered many hard-hitting stories this year, from the new proposed college to Title IX exemptions and new alcohol policies. These stories have challenged me, my writers and my fellow editors, and I think the results have helped shaped the conversations we have on the UD campus. I’m very excited by that.

However, my favorite stories have been the ones with character — those stories that highlight the UD community and what it creates, such as our story on the alumni working for a robotic lawn mower start-up business, or our piece on the students who play with the children living in Tower Village.

These are the stories that are my favorite, because they speak to the heart of the people at UD: what they do in their spare time, what they talk about and what they go on to do in the world.

News, I have found, is about finding the human in whatever it is you are doing. No matter the story, big or small, if you fail to capture the human, you are lost. It has been a pleasure uncovering the many facets of UD’s humanity: our interests, our concerns, our disagreements and our passions.

Again, thank you to my fellow editors and to Rudy Bush, our journalism director, for guiding me through what were sometimes daunting tasks. Thank you to everyone who has sent in a tip for a story, sat for an interview or given a comment to the news section, for being willing to let us hear your stories. And most of all, thank you a thousand times to everyone who has written for news this year. You’ve made my job so much easier, and you’ve made the news section something that I am incredibly proud of.

– Riley Beckwith


Commentary Editor: Sara Coello

After a year of excitement over everything from Title IX to the New College proposal, I think it’s safe to say that if I haven’t figured out how gossip and discourse spread through the University of Dallas by now, it’s probably not something that can be achieved within an undergraduate career here.

This isn’t to say that I’m in any way more perceptive or connected to UD than others are, it’s just that I’ve had the privilege to work with so many people and ideas since August.

Commentary might not be ‘hard’ enough news for some people, but it does have the benefit of attracting the most passionate and active people. Students, faculty and alumni who have little interest in writing have taken to their keyboards in an effort to spread their ideas throughout UD.

Every article published in this section has been something that at least one person is passionate about — not just opinionated, but caring enough to dedicate their time and energy to write it out for every reader.

So, thank you to every person who has come to me with a story to share. But also, thank you to the ones who have shared these articles on social media, passed a paper along to a friend, and discussed what they’ve read with others.

I hope that anybody reading this falls under at least one of these categories. And if you don’t, there’s always next year.

– Sara Coello


Arts & Culture Editor: Molly Wierman

I’ve spent a while trying to decide how to write what I’ve been calling a recap, but what is really a farewell. It is difficult to say goodbye; the newspaper has taken up so much of my energy over the past two years, and it’s only now that I have the time to reflect back on what has grown out of this work.

Something that continues to come to my mind is a quote from Christina Hayes, the interim curator of the Beatrice M. Haggerty Gallery in the Art History building. When I interviewed her two months ago, sitting at a crooked table in the Art Village, she told me that she believed art was always about trying to communicate.

I’ve turned this comment over in my mind a handful of times throughout the semester. Each time, I’ve wondered what we’ve tried to communicate in the arts and culture section over these past months.

We made a few changes at the start of the year, most notably recasting Mall à la Mode as Humans of UD, an approach that broadened our means of telling stories.

The different profiles we’ve included — musical Sister Rosemary Esseff, retiring ceramics professor Dan Hammett, even University of Dallas’ Cap Bar baristas — have allowed us to follow individual threads strongly woven into the tapestry that is the UD community. We have shown, too, how these threads continue to reappear, even when we think they have disappeared, as the Andrew Esherick memorial elegantly shows.

We’ve written on moments when the community has come together in the name of art: the Senior Studios and the Mainstage performances in the drama department, the many art department events through the year and the senior art showcases. How much Groundhog counts as art may be debatable, but it shines with significance as a time for the UD community, spread throughout the country, to reunite. That is, it is a tradition that remains just as important as some of the lost or hidden traditions, such as the creation and publication of “Kerygma” in the early 1960s.

What I’m trying to say is that we’ve ultimately tried to put this community into words, to tame this rich and sometimes raw beauty into language through our stories. We have tried to communicate the grace we find in each individual we interview and each work of art we review.

When I look back at my time with the paper, I am grateful for the efforts of all my writers over the past two years for doing so much of the work I’ve described. I think it’s all right for me to leave The University News in your capable hands.

To the broader UD community: Thank you for the wisdom you have communicated to us. It has been an honor learning to see beauty through your eyes.

– Molly Wierman


Sports Editor: Victoria Nelson

When I applied to be the sports editor for The University News almost 13 months ago, I had very definite goals in mind. As a former University of Dallas athlete and a regular contributing writer for the sports section, it was my intention to take the section and use it to help make athletics a more integrated part of the university.

Concretely, that meant running more stories and features, instead of just recaps. I wanted to explore the relationships between athletes, professors, administration and the rest of the student body, as well as help the larger community get to know the coaches and the athletic faculty.

Although there is, and probably always will be, more to be done in this quest for integration, this year saw great strides in that direction.

The addition of our sports column, “What’s in a game?” proved early on to be one of the most effective tools in getting people interested in the sports section. Located on the back page every week, it garnered attention and honest conversation about such topics as the place of athletics at a school like UD and the use of athletics as a platform for social change.

The particular column on sports as a sociopolitical platform was sparked by one of the biggest articles of the year, not only for the sports section, but for the whole paper. When two of our men’s basketball players elected to kneel, rather than stand, for the national anthem this season, the event elicited one of several sports articles that made the front page over the course of the year.

It was my pleasure to head the section that reported on such landmark events as the basketball protests, the Fair Labor Standards Act and its effects on the athletics staff, UD’s first-ever pep rally and the rugby team’s historic run to nationals. Quality writing and dedication to the facts enabled this section to move beyond basic recaps and to treat real issues with depth and humanity. Athletics play just as important of a role in the newspaper as every other section, and our coverage of sports this year has truly begun to reflect that.

I hope, more than anything, that this section was able to address that human element. Pieces like our bi-weekly coaching spotlight were aimed at introducing members of the athletic department to the rest of the community not primarily as athletes or coaches, but as people. If this year in sports at The University News has done anything to advance our community’s sense of solidarity with its athletic department, then I consider my work well done.

– Victoria Nelson

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