From the Editor: Building back Allegheny through resilience


There is no way to sugarcoat it. The class of 2022 has had a tumultuous and unfortunate college experience.
We entered Allegheny in the fall of 2018, bright-eyed and ready for the opportunities that awaited us. The quad and dining halls buzzed with some 2,100 students, Gator pride and excitement.

Fast forward to May 2022. Prior to the recent COVID-19 outbreak, campus felt as close to fall 2018 as it had in a long time, but it is still not the same. We have lost nearly 600 students, the walkways are quiet and that energy from just a few years ago feels lost.
I do not believe that the loss of community feel is a uniquely Allegheny problem. The pandemic seems to have caused a global rift in the traditional college experience. However, the pandemic paired with financial challenges and growing pains of a 207-year-old institution have created concerns among the community over the future of Allegheny.

The relationship between the City of Meadville and the college remains strained and hostile, students feel as though they are not involved in decision-making processes about their education, and the administration has struggled for several years to build confidence among the student body.

My first story in The Campus was “Link elected as 22nd Allegheny president.” As a nervous and shy first-year student, I sat down virtually with then-Chair of the Board of Trustees Mark Campbell, ’82, to discuss his hopes for then-President-elect Hilary Link. Even then, Campbell said, “The value of a liberal arts education is under challenge. In a world that is more and more fixated on skills and transference of education directly to the job marketplace, I think that people increasingly wrongly underestimate the importance of a liberal arts education.”

The financial challenges of this institution were by no means unexpected. What was unexpected was a global challenge to the economy and our way of life as we know it.

I have seen the college change drastically over the past four years. Students used to be proud to say, “Allegheny College is home.” While I do not think that this sense of pride is lost completely, I think it is fundamentally lessened.

The grievances against the college are fully warranted. I have covered the administration and have seen their struggles to effectively and transparently communicate substantial changes to the campus community. I have seen them and the trustees brush off students’ concerns and cut successful programs that enhance DEI initiatives and programs that our students say are a huge part of their communities.

I also think that students feel unheard and defeated. After two long years of not having control over anything — on top of burnout, loneliness, anxiety and depression on the rise nationwide — I commiserate with my peers.

I struggled with some of the worst mental health of my life during the pandemic. It came at a time when I was newly trying to run a newspaper — meeting strangers completely online and creating layout in a small space, afraid that I would contract COVID. I lost my creativity and my eagerness to write, and I saw that among our staff. But we continued, meeting weekly and doing the newspaper layout with only a few people in the newsroom during any given week.

It was incredibly difficult. Few events were going on on campus, people did not want to talk to our reporters, and stress was high. The November 2020 election cycle further added to stress and Zoom fatigue quickly set in.

But we did it. We put out two dozen issues during the 2020-21 academic year, just as we always do, and have done in some form since 1876. In addition, we rebranded The Campus and put more focus on online engagement and news videos — even mukbangs.
What I saw among my staff as well as myself was this desire to continue, to persevere and to provide some sense of normalcy to the campus community. Plus, I think we realized the gravity of the pandemic — many years down the road students of Allegheny will look back and see what campus life was like during COVID-19.

What I am trying to say is, we are persevering. It is more important than ever to build back the Allegheny community. Our student organizations are on the front lines of this effort, organizing events to combat loneliness, curb stress and to offer good old college fun. I think it is imperative for the college to work together with our students to address their needs in this pandemic-fatigued, omnipresent media world and to find a way to create a more meaningful Allegheny experience.

Working with an organization like The Campus teaches you how to deal with crises. Former Editor-in-Chief Marley Parish, ’19, called it being a “crisis manager,” and this could not be more true. Many students have never even picked up a paper and are completely unaware of just what it entails.

Despite the unpaid 10-20 hours of work we do each week, we have dealt with burnt newspapers delivered to our office, newspapers stolen from racks across campus, threats of lawsuits, blackmailing, angry readers and disgruntled staff members. We have had administrators pressure us and disagree with our content, local politicians share our work out of context to promote false narratives and have been faced with threats to our budget and the realities of the challenges of a print newspaper in 2022.
It is often scary to know that what we put out has consequences. We get things wrong and we upset people, but it is always through trying to find the truth. Because at the end of the day, we do what we do because we love this little place called Allegheny.
After problems arise again and again, you learn how to trust your instinct. You learn to trust yourself; that no matter what anyone else says — you know that you did your best.

Next week, I will be able to say that I am a proud Allegheny graduate. It is because of my mentors, my professors, my colleagues and my friends. I want to thank my predecessors, Marley, Matt Steinberg, ’20 and Lauren Trimber, ’20, for your guidance. I also want to thank my former co-Editor-in-Chief Sara Holthouse, ’21, and all of my colleagues who have worked with me on The Campus over the past four years. Thank you to Eric Pallant for pushing me and for always reading.

I would like to give a special thanks to Mike Crowley for his journalistic wisdom and for giving me the ability to make decisions. Crowley has given me confidence that I can trust my instinct and ensure the paper is strong.
Finally, I would like to thank one of my best friends, co-Editor-in-Chief Roman Hladio, ’23, who always keeps things lighthearted and the process moving. The newspaper is in excellent hands, along with journalist superstar Sami Mirza, ’24. Keep muckraking, keep pushing to find answers and always trust your gut.

I have loved working on this paper. It has been exciting, stressful, emotional, consequential, exhausting and fun. I have poured my heart into every decision I have ever made — as insignificant as a comma or as consequential as deciding to not publish damning stories over fears of a lawsuit. Staff members have quit, people have told me off and I have learned that each decision you make as a leader may not be well-received. I have learned to love the em dash — thanks, Marley — hate the Oxford comma and to never forget to double-check class years by checking Instagram profiles — thanks for putting them in your bios, we use them frequently.

I have overseen 48 issues, designed and edited nearly 400 pages and have been a part of nearly 100 issues these past four years. I have met so many people I would not have otherwise met, pissed some people off, learned more about how Allegheny works in more ways than I ever intended to (seriously, some people do not check MyAllegheny?) and published over 40 articles appearing in every section — yes, most recently I finally wrote for sports.

It has been a pleasure and an honor to work with such talented writers, photographers and creators. The unassuming, ever-changing code-locked newsroom on the third floor of the campus center has been my second home these past four years, and I will miss it terribly.

This is a wonderful institution that warrants our full attention and hard work across the board to improve it for BIPOC students, LGBTQ+ students and other disadvantaged communities. We need to continue to pressure those who make decisions for this institution to make decisions that work for us. There is no better outlet to do so than The Campus, Allegheny Student Government and peaceful organizing. Keep speaking out and keep demanding the experience we all deserve.

Be kind to one another and thanks for reading.