In my first day as editor-in-chief, I set three goals: to increase the Star’s campus presence, evolve to a more digital publication, and be a resource for students. Looking back on the Star’s performance, I think we have made significant gains toward each of these goals, but the work isn’t done.
I’ve seen our campus split by political and racial differences. I’ve seen the integrity of our campus representatives questioned. I’ve seen the campus lose friends, family, and icons. But I’m optimistic that Texas State has grown.
When I was Opinions Editor, I wrote an editorial titled, “The future belongs to the youth” and in it I gave a history of young activists and how they did not assume there was someone smarter who would make the change they wanted to see their communities, they simply empowered themselves.
I still believe this to be true and want to encourage student representatives, activists and journalists to apply this same rigor to see our university at its best. Especially now that the drama of Connor Clegg’s Student Government has had time to leave the ecosystem, there are plenty of issues that deserve our attention.
Students have been working to bring menstrual hygiene products to campus for a year. The Counseling Center needs more resources to comfortably accommodate the campus. People are becoming more and more aware of food insecurity and how it uniquely affects students. I think students should be aware of the commercialization of universities and pay close attention to with whom we do business and what it means for student workers.
I think there is merit to say that students are more than business opportunities for apartments and lenders. There are plenty more opportunities for improvement on our campus but it will be up to the student body to set the priorities.
Since day one I’ve tried to make the Star more accessible, visible, and sharper than it’s ever been. The Star has been at nearly every Bobcat day and orientation the same as any other student organization. I also created the Soapbox Soundoff where we occasionally put a soapbox in the Quad on which you can stand and say anything you’d like. After my public relations team and faculty advisor made it a reality, we won third place in Freedom of Expression from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
Our reporting on issues like TPUSA, Sutherland Springs and housing has earned awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, College Media Association and the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association. Furthermore, our web traffic increased by 115% in this year alone.
When I speak with administrators looking for more support for The Star, they’ve let me know on several occasions that their priorities lie with awards and revenue. However, I think I speak for most of my colleagues when I say these are all byproducts of the good reporting we strive to do for the San Marcos community.
I have always measured the success of The Star with the amount of feedback we receive from readers. I’ve also measured success by the number of letters to the editor we can run and the amount of good impact we’ve helped bring with our platform. Because it has always been my philosophy that the University Star has an obligation of service to students, faculty and permanent residents of San Marcos.
Whether it’s the 18-hour days, the missed meals, interrupted sleep, calls to grieving families, or rushing to a fire, we never say no because that’s how much we believe in our duty as journalists. Everyone involved with The Star has made sacrifices and poured themselves into stories with the hope of being not another product, but a resource for the campus.
I recognized that this also means having diversity in our newsroom and our reporting. Through intentional recruiting and encouraging open dialogue, I’ve tried to change the internal culture and perspective of The Star to ensure it is welcoming to more than the “typical” journalist. Being an African-American journalist, I understand feeling like a guest in someone else’s field. And as with being a black man anywhere, there will always be someone unconvinced you’re qualified to belong, even after you’ve proven that you are.
However, I’ve always kept Jay-Z’s words, “A wise man told me don’t argue with fools because people from a distance can’t tell who is who.” Therefore, I’ll leave it up to numbers, history, and the audience to decide if I’ve always made the right decision. But I can say for sure that any decision I’ve made, I did so with integrity, accountability, and in the best interests of The Star and by virtue our campus community. And I am confident in this next group of editors that they will carry on these same values as they are met with a different set of challenges and agenda items.
Lastly, it’s important that I thank my editorial board, faculty advisor and every reporter, photographer, columnist, illustrator, sales representative and auxiliary staff for their work and dedication throughout the year. Without them, there is no University Star. There isn’t enough space available to thank everyone who has supported either me or The Star in a tremendous way. However, I’d like to especially thank Gilbert Martinez, Kym Fox, Ronald Johnson, Laurie Fluker and Denise Cervantes for their guidance. And most importantly, thank you to Texas State and the student body for having me as your editor-in-chief. It has been a pleasure.