A letter from the editors

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Chalaun Lomax and Sam Seekings

The past eight months have been filled with introspection and reflection over how we at Student Life can better serve all members within the Washington University community. Last spring, we transitioned into a new staff, adding a slew of new positions, including Director of Diversity Initiatives, focused exclusively on increasing diversity within Student Life’s pages and also within its staff. We engaged in a series of conversations with members of some of Wash. U.’s affinity groups, along with completing diversity trainings in the fall in order to examine how and why we cover what we cover. Through these conversations, we realized that we wanted to publish a special edition of Student Life focused on highlighting the various issues, identities and perspectives on our campus.

The reporting for this issue began in early September, with our writers and editors brainstorming a variety of stories on topics ranging from socioeconomic status to racial and ethnic diversity. We also launched a survey in early October, intended to gather responses from students and gain a better understanding of issues affecting students. Our staff interviewed over 50 students, faculty and staff. Over 700 of you responded to our survey telling us about your political affiliations, religious beliefs and attitudes and how your various identities impact your college experience.

In addition to the survey results, this issue contains 14 pieces that cover a spectrum of experiences and perspectives—from an opinion piece on solidarity amongst people of color to a profile of four international athletes. The title—WU: In Focus—reflects that this special issue provides a snapshot of student experiences. Short of interviewing every Wash. U. student, this issue cannot—and will not—be exhaustive in scope. However, we hope that you can find something within these pages that resonates with you. Whether an opinion piece, an investigative story or student quotes from our survey, the voices spotlighted and experiences shared in this issue matter to each and every member of the Wash. U. community.

Our staff has worked diligently this fall writing, researching and designing this issue. We are so thankful to them for their efforts and investment in this issue, and to you, our readership, for continuing to hold us accountable day in and day out. Without you, this special issue wouldn’t exist. We don’t view this as a one-off special initiative. We hope that it serves as a launch point for us to continue publishing work that highlights student experiences that better reflect the Wash. U. community. But most of all, we hope that this issue sparks conversations about the importance of diversity of all forms on our campus. From us here at Student Life, thank you. We hope you enjoy it. Welcome to WU: In Focus.