A welcome from the 2009-2010 editorial board
By the time this first issue of Student Life meets your eyes, you will have discovered that change is in the air as we enter the fall semester of 2009. Physically, the South 40 is in transition as new buildings replace old ones and for the first time in recent memory the words “Bear’s Den” and “Center Court” will hold no meaning for new students. Politically, economically and environmentally, our campus lies on the fault lines of a changing world—one that is certain to evolve over the coming year.
Change is abundant within the student body as well, as new freshmen discover an evolution—both in their surroundings and in themselves—that transpires during the adjustment from high school to college. Your years at Wash. U. are and will be a time of direct engagement with your surroundings, during which you can apply the critical thinking skills that you learn in your coursework to the ever-fluid world around you. This is your duty, and it is ours as well: As a student-run editorial board, we seek to remain involved and engaged with campus and to facilitate dialogue between members of the University community.
In the coming year, the students, faculty and community of Wash. U. will continue to engage with a variety of ruptures in policy and perception, and we look forward to facilitating a dialogue that responds and contributes to the changes they make. While we can’t fully predict the future, there are several issues that every student will be hard-pressed to avoid in the coming year:
Sustainability: In the fall of 2009, Wash. U. is expected to release a long-awaited plan for environmental sustainability, and over the coming year, students and faculty alike will continue to shape our environmental future. The topic of sustainability applies directly to the actions of our student groups, the research conducted by our faculty and the policies pursued by our administration.
Politics: Last year, the student body became more politically engaged than ever as we watched Sarah Palin and Joe Biden debate in our own Athletic Complex. This year begins with different national and state administrations than last year, and our campus will continue to respond to the political climate both within and around us. Moreover, as issues such as transportation policy, eminent domain and a smoking ban in the city of Clayton remain transparent, the University will continue to establish its role in local politics.
The economy: The housing bubble burst and subsequent financial crisis created a massive national shock, and last year our campus saw the chancellor take pay cuts in response to a faltering and anemic endowment. The changing economic climate will affect everything from our tuition to the profitability of our degrees. The University has already begun to make trade-offs, such as delaying construction projects and eliminating the Center for the Study of Ethics & Human Values.
New forms of communication: Changing technology is transforming the way we communicate: We can now follow Student Union, several University departments and Student Life on Twitter, and Facebook is more popular than ever as a means of connecting with classmates. It remains to be seen how these new means of connection will change the way we operate, both as student groups and as individuals.
Ethics: In the past few weeks, we have seen ethics scandals emerge surrounding the political actions of Jeff Smith, a state senator and University lecturer, as well as the academic actions of medical school professor Timothy Kuklo. Changes to Wash. U. authorship policies took effect this week, requiring researchers to disclose any possible financial conflicts of interest to journals. Especially in light of the recent elimination of the Center for the Study of Ethics & Human Values, the source of ethics regulations at the University and in the surrounding community is certain to be at the forefront of campus opinion.
We invite you to seek an active role in sculpting and responding to these changes: We want your voices to be heard just as much as we seek to project our own. We want you to disagree with us, engage with us and give us active material to help your peers shape their own opinions. You may do this indirectly, through involvement in a student group or participation in research we cover, or you may do it directly, by commenting on our Web site or submitting an op-ed. Change takes shape only because people have opinions, and over the coming year, we seek to be a literal forum in voicing yours.