A Letter to the Community from the Editor-in-Chief of The Triton

Editorial

Photo of Geisel Library.
Kristina Stahl / The Triton

Written by:

Dear UC San Diego Community,

It is with a heavy heart that I write this letter to you, especially during a pandemic and national uncertainty. Since the ongoing national protests began this weekend, I have searched for the appropriate response to address the concerns of you, the community, and  ensure that my staff’s needs (mental-health related and beyond) are supported. 

As the Editor-in-Chief of the digital media outlet at UCSD, I recognize my duty not only as a journalist but also as one of the leaders of the community to represent the voices of students on campus with our coverage. Having been a student journalist for almost six years, I have seen news unfold in which underrepresented people, particularly Black communities around the country, were not accurately portrayed. As a non-Black woman of color, it pains me when I read articles that do not condemn responsible parties.

When The Triton was founded in 2015, the pillars of our Code of Ethics focused on “seeking truth and reporting it, minimizing harm, acting independently, and being accountable.” We started when our founders felt that our campus was being covered poorly, particularly when it came to communities of color, and particularly when it came to Black students.   Since then, our mission has been to share stories that administrators sometimes would prefer to not be told. In 2018, we reported on a protest that the Black Student Union organized to bring attention to anti-Blackness, both on campus and in America. Recurring labor union strikes in the last three years remind us that to this day, there are increasing wage gaps in the UC system, highlighting the wealth inequality between Black female workers and their white male counterparts. These stories are uncomfortable, because they are often stories of the campus’ failure to address student and worker needs.

To tell these stories, we rely on you, the community, to recount your experiences with us. As your media outlet, our duty is to serve the student body by reporting on content that directly impacts you. We recognize the weight of this responsibility and will continue to uphold this duty moving forward. 

I grieve with the Black community today. George Floyd was murdered; he did not die just because he couldn’t breathe. He was killed because a police officer knelt on him for eight minutes and forty-six seconds. This is not an opinion. I tell you this as a fact, from the articles that have been written and video footage that has been posted. As I recognize my duty as a journalist, I also want to acknowledge the duty of law enforcement, both on campus and across the nation, and hold them accountable for their actions. The duty of a police officer, first and foremost, is to keep the community safe. When George Floyd, among many other Black individuals, was killed, his death highlighted the twisted reality that law enforcement has failed time and again to uphold its duty. 

It is not the responsibility of the Black community to tell you how much they suffer—throughout history and even today. The Black Lives Matter movement does not minimize the suffering of other underrepresented communities in this country, but rather empowers the Black community to seek justice for the inequalities they face to this day. As a student, I understand this and I stand alongside my fellow Black students and will try harder to listen to what they have to share with me. As a journalist, I understand this and I will use the experiences shared with me to tell you the truth—the full story.

It has been exactly a decade since the Compton Cookout happened at UCSD. Ten years later, Black students only make up less than 3% of our population, and administration has the audacity to continually advertise the diversity of the student body.  Just last year, The Campaign for College Opportunity (CCO) released a study that called for support for Black students in the UC system, outlining the struggles that they face when pursuing higher education. The study advised campus leaders to create more welcoming environments for Black students, recommending that universities hire more Black professors and administrative officials. This has not happened yet, and this campus will never be considered diverse if the students themselves do not feel this way. 

The Triton is committed to telling your story, to uplifting the voices of the Black community and shedding light on what being a Black student is like here at UCSD. Now more than ever, I recognize the power of the platform we have as a media outlet to disseminate information to a wide audience, from administrators, faculty, staff, and students. My goal this year as the Editor-in-Chief is to share your story. If you have a story to tell, I promise you that it is worth voicing. I will work with you to make it happen. I want our platform to be your space to speak your mind. 

I am committed to the founding principles of this newspaper, and I will continue to expand on our mission statement. This year, I will be proactive in engaging with other leaders in the UCSD community to seek stories before they occur and to report on issues as they are happening by maintaining lines of communication with community representatives on our campus. 

As protests continue to happen and we wait for administration to respond, my staff and I will keep working to ensure that the communities on campus, especially the Black community, know that I am in their corner, to listen when they speak, and to relay what we learn to the rest of the student body. The Triton stands in solidarity with the Black students on this campus, and we recognize the responsibilities that come with this support. Most importantly, words of solidarity are steeped in action and I am dedicated to ensuring that happens on my part. 

I would personally like to thank everyone in the UCSD community for their continued support of The Triton over the last five years. Without you and your voices, we wouldn’t be here today, and because of that, we will always be committed to holding the administration and the student government accountable while also holding ourselves accountable in the coverage we publish. When I was re-elected as Editor-in-Chief, I understood the faith that my Editorial Board—and UCSD—had in me to lead the paper in a direction that continues to uphold the foundation on which we were built. 

Your voice matters to me, and I want to tell your story. If you are participating in protests, we want to know. If you are creating a petition or reaching out to the university, we want to know. However you are involved during this time, we want to know. You can reach out to me anytime at editor@triton.news or submit a community op-ed here. During the year, I also have weekly office hours, and I am always available for a Zoom call. As we wrap up this school year and head into the next, I will continue to make myself available for the UCSD community and hear everything you have to say.

Respectfully,

Ella Chen

Editor-in-Chief 2020–21