For Nothing and for Everything, Thank You.

By: Hadassah Penn  |  May 12, 2020
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By Hadassah Penn, Features Editor

I’m finishing up my second year on the YU Observer editorial team; my fifth and final semester at YU. A lot has happened on campus, and the YU Observer has covered all of it. That’s what a student newspaper does, right? 

Well.

If you ask a lot of the student body, you might hear other answers. People — friends, even — have told me that they don’t really understand the YU Observer. “It’s kind of dramatic,” they tell me. “Why do you complain about everything?” 

Complain? Is that what it’s called to fight injustice on campus? To lend a voice to YU’s underserved LGBTQ+ community? To advocate for women’s Torah study? To illustrate students’ financial worries and mental health struggles and moral dilemmas? 

If you read the YU Observer and all you see are petty complaints, I suggest you look again, and this time try for some empathy. Before you minimize the struggles of your fellow students, think about your own privilege. Think about how lucky you are to be reading about prejudice and not experiencing it first-hand. Think about a time when you’ve struggled to be heard, and how demoralizing it can be to feel like nobody is listening. Think about the joys of community and solidarity. Think about something you fought fiercely to achieve. Think about how you’ve failed, and committed to try again. 

These stories may not be your own, but they might as well be. The YU Observer is an overture, a platform of connectivity. If you care about YU — not just the institution, but the students who comprise it — you’ll strive to make relationships, not to break them before they can begin.

I might not know you, reader, but I care about you. I believe that your voice holds great value. I want to do right by you — that’s all I’ve wanted for two years. Because, you see, my voice is not the one that matters. It never has. Student journalism is about the campus and the community, in fullness and finality. What matters to you matters to us, not the other way around. 

The YU Observer has published stories that are sad, difficult, frustrating, and infuriating. I commend the students who have come forward to speak about and write about these stories. Journalists are brave, but students are braver. 

And those stories, the hard-hitting ones that people like to shoot down for being “controversial”? They’re important and necessary, and they’re also not our only content. We publish all sorts of student writing — culture reviews, student spotlights, musings on creativity and inclusion and comfort. The YU Observer is a safe space, and it’s also a celebration of students’ diverse opinions, interests, and backgrounds.

I am proud of the YU Observer, and I am proud of my part in its existence. In good times and bad, in progress and outrage and everything in between — as long as students need a voice, the YU Observer will be here to provide it.

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