A little over a year ago, I was a fresh face on campus, in Moody — and in The Daily Texan basement.
I had always imagined that I would spend the entirety of my time at UT working at The Daily Texan, but after four insightful semesters, I think my time at the paper has come to an end.
I remember first walking into the basement for tryouts and reluctantly heading to the news desk, a small, slightly hidden corner in the basement office on Whitis.
From there, I would end up spending my first semester at UT as a general news reporter. I thank Megan, Savana and Gracie — the news editors at the time — and everyone on the fall 2019 news team for helping me learn and adjust to the newness of UT life through the lens of reporting on my community.
As a student reporter, I learned a lot about reporting, pitching and writing — just as much as I learned about the systemic problems our newsroom has and how much needs to be changed.
Thank you to Tiana, Faith and Lisa for being there for me, lending an ear and encouraging me to not only join the Diversity and Inclusion Board but also stick up for myself and envision a student newsroom that can better treat our staff and serve our community. More importantly, thank y’all for empowering me to burn down systems that don't serve us or our community. (I still have the matches and lighter fluid, so hmu!)
Thank you to Lauren, Areeba, Neelam, Lisa, Tiana and Emily, who put Texas Student Media’s feet to the fire and helped draft the letter of demands, as well as everyone who signed in solidarity to demand better for our community and the future of student journalism. Standing up to a powerful system is hard, and I couldn't have done it without y’all’s help. Community is power.
Thank you to the fall 2020 Board for ensuring that D+I is here to stay and has a place in this newsroom. I hope I made y’all feel empowered, and I am indebted to y’all’s hard work, passion and dedication.
Additionally, I want to thank our readers and the UT community who use their voice to hold this paper accountable. The effort you make — big or small — in ensuring the Texan reports on and represents your stories in the way they deserve to be told is inspiring.
There’s so many more people to thank that I can’t fit in the inch count, but just know that I appreciate you for inspiring and empowering me to be a better journalist along the way.
There’s no doubt that this paper still has a lot to reckon with. It needs major restructuring and amending that won’t and shouldn't be solved in just a semester or two.
It’s also important to recognize that change can’t materialize by shouldering the work on a few BIPOC staffers in the newsroom. It’s going to take critical effort and awareness from the majority demographic of the newsroom — white, cishet women from privileged backgrounds — to recognize how they benefit from a system that pushes so many talented, marginalized individuals out of the newsroom and build a more equitable system so all can thrive and prevail at this paper.
As I leave this newsroom behind, my biggest advice to those coming after me (especially those from marginalized backgrounds interested in D+I work): If you find yourself in a system, institution or environment that is fundamentally underserving you and your community, burn it down.