Columns, Opinion

Letter from the Editor: A final word

If we haven’t met, I’m Lily, and I am — soon-to-be was — the Editor-in-Chief of the Fall 2021 Editorial board. It is a job I have loved. But when I first got it, it was a job that terrified me.

When I got the position, I called my friend screaming gleefully, walking through the maze-y hallways of Danielsen Hall on FaceTime as I slowly let the reality of the title and responsibilities of the position sink in. “Woah” my friend had said, “This is kind of a big deal.”

Yvonne Tang / DFP Staff

And it felt that way. As absolutely gratifying as the position was, I knew it would mean a lot of sleepless nights and a near-constant state of stress. But I also knew why I wanted to be there. I went into this experience determined that the editorial board and I would do something great — to report the news with rigor and care — and to make sure that we highlight student voices throughout our campus.  

Now looking back on that moment, I can say with certainty it was worth it. Not only in the stories we were able to tell, but in the relationships our eboard was able to grow throughout all those nights. 

When the escalation violence was happening in Israel and Palestine last May, Campus Editor Madhri Yehiya, the article’s writer and I spent four days editing a story on the perspectives of students with ties to the area to make sure it was factual, balanced and fair. To this day, it is one of the stories I am most proud to have published. 

This summer — our off-publishing time, barring breaking news — we published this paper’s first digital print issue giving voice to LGBTQ+ voices to commemorate Pride month, with our editorial board and writers volunteering work on top of summer jobs. 

Once we began the semester, however, I saw firsthand that this paper was something we could use not just to tell the news but to affect change. This semester, I believe The Daily Free Press made itself seen as a paper that could really help students — a paper where people felt like they saw themselves, and wanted to read. The last EIC, Colbi Edmonds, ended her letter, writing, “I hope this paper continues to trailblaze.” And I think we did just that.

We’ve been there for all the big moments on campus. We were there for the in-person return to campus, dedicating our first printed issue to welcoming students home. We covered student sexual harassment allegations against Professor Eric Ruske, making sure to protect survivors while maintaining the truth of the situation. We covered Student Government’s protest of Kappa Sigma Mu fraternity following sexual misconduct allegations, and their suspension

We were there when BU divested from fossil fuels, when Mayor Michelle Wu won the historic election, and for the primary, and when fans returned to BU stadiums. We brought back comics, welcomed a crossword artist to the team and started a new podcast, “Unmasked,” asking students questions about their life anonymously.

We began to get into more investigative stories, taking our time and care to tell stories right. Colbi and Cammy — Spring 2021 editor-in-chief and managing editor — led extensive investigations into Orientation Director Shiney James’s behavior and Orientation’s alleged violation of labor laws that inspired both Boston University to remove her from a position where she oversees students, and hundreds of students to share their experiences. 

It led to people seeing us as a paper that could affect change through our reporting, and was the pivot in our coverage — looking into Student Health Services, Boston University Police Department and more — I could not be more proud of.

We were also the first eboard to work back in-person since March 2020, and also the first to codify wellness rules into our core values. This semester, the executive board worked with the board of directors to create these rules to increase the sustainability of work at the paper and ensure everyone’s mental wellbeing. 

Our editorial board was also led under a new Code of Ethics I drafted with Colbi, now the DEI chair, and received extensive training centered on TGNC inclusivity, disability and accessibility, and more. 

I have so much pride for all of the work we were able to achieve. But mostly, I have pride in the people who make this paper what it is.

Even on my worst days this semester, I would walk to the office and in an hour, I’d be smiling and laughing. Every time I left the office, no matter how late, I felt fulfilled — fulfilled by the purpose of what I was doing, but also filled by the people surrounding me just as excited to be there as I was. 

To Sonja, Madhri, Katrina, Conor, Isabella, Molly, KK, Bini, Rani, Yvonne — thank you for making this paper the best it could be. I can’t express how much I loved teaching, and learning, with you. To Emma, the other “top two,” thank you. I loved nothing more than sitting next to you every night and walking home with you. I loved leading with you.

Thank you to the board of directors. To my board buddy, Vic, who always listened when I needed a trusted ear. And Colbi, who never hesitated to indulge even the tiniest of questions. And to Ananya and Alex, who were always there when I needed them.

And I’d like to thank the two bunnies who always seemed to be waiting to usher me home outside, and even the rats, whose consequential jump scares reminded me I was never quite as tired as I thought I was. And, last but not least, my lovely roommates, who always left a light on when I came home.

This job is a lot of work, but people stick around for a reason. Because knowledge is power, and important. Because BU students’ stories are meant to be heard. Because, for writers and interviewers and readers alike, this is a home.

What’s next for me? First, a big nap. Then, who knows.

But what I do know, is that I am leaving this paper with love in my heart and gratitude for what it gave me — a renewed love for student journalism.

CONOR KELLEY/ DFP STAFF

To the BU community — thank you for letting us into your lives. Thank you for trusting us to hold the administration accountable, and trusting us with your stories, letting us tell them for you, and for reading.

To the Fall 2021 eboard — thank you for becoming a family this Fall. Thank you for making this paper better, making me better. Thank you for making this place a home. 

Thank you, all of you, for making this a place I will miss.

Lily Kepner

Fall 2021 Editor-in-Chief, The Daily Free Press

 

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