The first article that I wrote for the Campus Times was a reflection from my first year about the anxiety I experienced realizing that while I was here in Rochester, life in my hometown would continue on and change without me.

What I did not know was that across the world, life would change horrifically at what felt like the drop of the hat; that due to a pandemic, I would be spending time that I had originally planned to spend on campus in the childhood bedroom I was quickly outgrowing.

A lot more things were changing than just my hometown. Midway through my first year, Campus Times, along with the rest of the school, had to go virtual. While much of our pre-COVID process was fairly easy to streamline into the work-from-home reality, there were still many things that had to be changed. We now had editors in vastly different time zones, had to cancel our print editions, refund ad spots that had been paid for, and lost the camaraderie and convenience that came with seeing each other face to face in the CT office. 

We still faced these issues throughout my entire sophomore year, when I officially joined the staff as social media editor. With editors on completely different continents, communicating, interviewing, and reporting became difficult for a paper based in New York. On-campus editors and staff writers volunteered to individually deliver our print editions within their dorm buildings, and next to each stack we placed big signs that read, “If you touch it, you take it.” 

This past semester, we were able to be back in person, hold our weekly budget meetings in person, spend our long Sundays in our windowless office, and do staff bonding with our whole staff on campus. We had finally adjusted to the new “normal”. And then it changed once again.

In my first month as publisher and a week before the first day of classes, the entire student body received an email. The school had announced that while classes would resume in person, all extracurriculars would have to be online until February at the earliest. At first, this felt like no big deal to me; the Campus Times had run virtually before, and while it wasn’t optimal, we could do it again. However, I quickly realized how important meeting in person was to our publication. Would our presentations staff be able to access the programs needed to create the layout for our print edition? Would we have to put up the ‘touch it and take it’ signs again? Was “printing,” while not an in-person gathering, considered against COVID policy?

A day after frantically emailing our Advisor and talking to others in the organization, the University answered my question with one swift email: Everything would be virtual until February. Until February at the earliest, the Campus Times would only be published online. (May the campus recycling cans take some much-needed time off.)

The truth is, news happens, no matter the weather. If anything, campus newspapers have become even more important today, as they continue to break important news and keep our student body informed. If I had to describe the most important traits to be a part of such a publication, I’d say flexibility has proven to be just as important as integrity. And while I hope this is our last bout of virtual learning, both for myself and for campus at large, I’m glad to know that the Campus Times could handle another, with such a dedicated staff willing to keep us running.

Tagged: COVID-19

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