The world has come to a grinding halt. Major cities are empty of their hustle and bustle, skies of their planes and university campuses of their students. This silence is deeply unsettling. Without the noises of daily life for reassurance, it will constantly remind us of the great uncertainty we’re facing.
In this rapidly evolving situation, it is impossible to predict, let alone know, what the world will look like even in the next 24 hours. Social distancing measures have only exacerbated this vagueness. For many of us, literal windows feel like the only thing anchoring us to reality. And what a poor job they are doing, constantly showing a dystopian emptiness of the outside world.
However, just because we cannot see it, does not mean that life is on pause. Across the globe, healthcare professionals are working to save lives without adequate protection and public officials are scrambling to enact orders. At Boston University, classes are still in session via video-conferencing platforms and other educational softwares as the administration continues to make life-changing decisions.
Now that the student body is scattered across the world, the consequences of these top-down decisions are no longer as perceptible to us. Yet, regardless of whether or not we’re on campus, they will continue to have real effects on our livelihoods. The class of 2020’s commencement is completely up in the air, and most students have been evicted from their dorms to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.
Those are just a few of the particularly striking ways coronavirus and the administration’s response are upending our lives. However, the disturbances do not stop there. Their knock-on effects will assault every part of our lives: academic, economic, relationships and health. Yet, in all of this volatility, exactly how and to what degree our lives will be affected seems indeterminable without proximity and the resources to investigate.
The public’s lack of visibility in this regard makes self-evident the need for news organizations like The Daily Free Press to step up and fill in the information gaps where it can. Under these trying circumstances, the editors remember the responsibility that we signed up for.
As student journalists, we play a key role in the civic life of BU and the surrounding city of Boston. Not only do we report on campus events that explicitly shape student life, but on the regional issues that do so implicitly — we are also residents of the city after all.
We aim to provide the information necessary for people to make informed decisions about learning, community and government. Journalism creates the transparency that is indispensable to a properly functioning democracy. Without it, people cannot trust the institutions and individuals that materially impact their lives.
We will not allow that obligation to be diluted by these circumstances. Just as learning is not entirely tied to being on campus, neither is the work of this publication. Although our office is like a second home, we do not need to be there to report. As the numbers of newspaper publications and professional journalists have dwindled, student journalists have stepped up.
Now, we work to hold institutions and people accountable and to ensure that the public is still receiving accurate and reliable information. The administration has not been perfect in its response despite having other universities’ actions to reflect and improve upon. Rumors fly via word of mouth and social media, and that trend is only exacerbated in the face of fear.
Journalists have the capabilities to answer your questions, debunk myths and clarify this situation. And that is the least we can do with the mechanisms we have to help navigate this disheartening ambiguity.
We hope to be a small reminder of the communities people found comfort in and the physical space they can no longer occupy.