I remember walking onto USC’s campus for the first time as an optimistic, first-generation freshman. During the first few weeks, everything about this school seemed perfect to me: the dining hall food was great, my roommates were really nice and I loved my classes. Everything was simple.
I eagerly joined the campus paper in my first semester, ready to interview students like me, who came from backgrounds underrepresented on campuses like USC. I wanted that to be the focus of my time writing at the newspaper.
Quite quickly, that optimism faded and the opportunity to write about these communities began to diminish as I became more involved with reporting on the University and its administration. I started seeing the darker side of the school I was so proud to be a part of. The names of defamed, powerful people, as opposed to the names of talented students, were printed in our pages more often than any of us ever wanted.
We couldn’t go a single issue without seeing the names of Carmen Puliafito, Rohit Varma, Erick Guerrero, David Carrera, Tony Bland, George Tyndall, Dennis Kelly and Donna Heinel popping out from the pages.
After reporting on these individuals for so long, our newsroom has memorized their stories. We’ve spent countless hours writing and reporting on the tainted mark they left on our University. Regardless, they don’t represent the beautiful community I know exists at USC.
Now, our beloved University is starting a new era with Carol Folt, its first woman president, at the helm. Our troubled history hasn’t been erased, but we’re ready for change.
It’s a historic time to be a Trojan, and the optimistic feeling I had when I first walked down Trousdale Parkway is slowly coming back.
As I start my new role as the editor-in-chief of one of the country’s longest-standing college newspapers, I’ll strive to lead this paper with the optimism and excitement that I had as a freshman but with the experience that I’ve built reporting on USC, its community and its missteps.
Just as we expect the University to put its students before wealth and prestige, at the Daily Trojan, we will also put the the stories of our students first.
The Daily Trojan’s inaugural Fall 2019 issue is a reflection of that. In it, we highlight the fresh face of our renewed administration, which says it’ll keep students at the forefront, while still reminding us of the tumultuous few years that came before. We also showcase some of our incredible student athletes, including goalkeeper Kaylie Collins who has led the women’s soccer team to new heights, and profile up-and-coming rapper Saweetie, who once walked the halls of our University and is now a rising woman rapper in the industry.
Like USC, the Daily Trojan is also turning a page.
After a handful of years riddled with burnout and sleepless nights, we’ve created a “Wellness and Outreach” department to ensure all of our editors and reporters feel safe and healthy as they do their job. We also hope to emphasize wellness in our coverage. Our wellness and outreach director penned a letter about her goals for the department, which you can read here.
We’ve also renamed the “Lifestyle” section “Arts & Entertainment.” Our readers will see an upgrade in content and a focus on talented artists, musicians and creatives that get their start at USC. The section’s name better reflects the content we hope to include. Our A&E editors also wrote a letter titled “Calling All Artists,” as a reminder that the stories you’ll read are by students, for students and about students.
There’s no place on campus I’d rather spend time at than STU 421, writing and editing the pages of a newspaper that I love and cherish. I hope that with my new role — and my background as a Latinx, gay son of undocumented immigrants — I can work to ensure that our diverse and vibrant campus is represented within the Daily Trojan, and that the stories we came here to write will come to life in this newspaper’s pages.
The Daily Trojan is ready for this new beginning, and we hope the students who read this newspaper are too.