Lessons from behind the desk

The end of the year quickly approaches; it might not be the time to be particularly reflective, considering a deluge of projects and finals. However, in taking over the executive editor role (thank you again, staff, for voting for me to hold the honor and especially to Kathleen Wieser, our outgoing executive editor for challenging me to live up to filling the big shoes she leaves behind), I’ve found myself pausing to reflect on the past year.

While serving as director of print, I was tasked with reading all of the content before it was sent to the printers. This four-hour Wednesday ordeal has given me a unique perspective on what Case Western Reserve University faced this year.

Some things I learned from the countless hours scouring for quality and commas:

CWRU students love news about four things: housing (“The death of affordable housing?,” “Gender inclusive housing options will be available for next year,” “Housing strategies lack student focus,” “Stalled” and somewhat off topic but “A land purchase CWRU would like to forget”), food (“Bon Appétit announces new university center will feature six dining options,” “It’s official: Melt location to open in new university center”), public defecation (“Police get photo of Akron man who pooped on neighborhood cars”) and urination (“Campus letters stolen, peed on”).

Those four themes gained the most attention on our website and social media. Even comedian Nick Offerman weighed in on our “Bowel Movement Bandit” report, making fun of us for a typo, but then endorsing The Observer with, “That is a good student newspaper,” during his set last month. Move over sex, drugs and rock-n-roll, CWRU has a few new things which make students pick up papers.

Another lesson learned: Campus inclusiveness and community still need work.

It’s been an interesting year in that regard. When it mattered, we came together. We suffered through the start of the year with an experience worse than anyone could imagine. Nothing could describe the loss of sophomores William Michael Felten and Lucas Marcelli and freshmen Abraham Pishevar and John Hill in the plane crash which claimed their lives (“One brotherhood: CWRU remembers the lives of the four students lost in plane crash tragedy”). But we saw an outpouring of community, be it in a candlelit vigil or campus-wide remembrance.

However, at the same time, the campus is not without its concerns, especially regarding community. School spirit issues are fairly prevalent (“Where’s the Spirit?,” “Where’s Spartie?”). Additionally, the #webelonghere movement (“Lean into discomfort”) spearheaded by the CWRU African American Society, whose members rightfully took home many of the Dr. Dorothy Pijan Student Leadership awards, has been one of this year’s most successful student gatherings in terms of making a change. Yet, the fact that it has been necessary on this campus is a disappointment. We even saw racist graffiti being left in Fribley Commons two months ago (“Graffiti and prejudiced remarks found in Fribley Commons before spring break; perpetrators still not caught”). Progress must be made to make sure this is a campus for everyone.

We’ll have a more thorough examination of where our campus is at next week with our continuing tradition of semester grades. Help us out by visiting our website at observer.case.edu and answering our poll so that your voice can be heard on a campus issue for inclusion in the editorial.

However, I think it would be hugely disrespectful to this community to end on with such a negative note. One of the biggest takeaways that I had from my time as director of print is that I am even more impressed with this university than when I set foot here freshman year. We have our problems, sure; but we’re a community that keeps getting better.

Mike McKenna
Incoming Executive Editor