Outgoing editor-in-chief column: ‘OSU as a whole needs to do better’

Weatherford Hall

Lauren Sluss, Outgoing Editor-in-Chief

University still faces sexism, racism, apathy

Stepping into this position in the fall, I thought I knew the OSU community —a place I had called home for the past two years— very well. I was wrong. 

This position provided me with a unique insight into the community. I spoke to students on DACA status who were unsure of their future at OSU. I interviewed safety officers reporting to an emergency on campus. I regularly interacted with university administrators and students trying to do their best. 

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These interactions have made me discover one main thing: OSU as a whole can do better. OSU as a whole needs to do better. 

As much as we are striving to create a representational, inclusive and fair place, our community is regularly plagued by national issues.

A lack of interest in campus representation exists. Our student government saw a record turnout of 21 percent, up from 12 percent the previous year. Although this marks an improvement, it is still a reminder that only 21 percent of all students took 10 minutes out of their day to vote for the students who represent them and issues they care about in positions of power. 

Gender and pay gaps exist in our community. On average, OSU awards male athletes $18,072 in sports related student aid per year. OSU awards female athletes $12,834. Head coaches for men’s athletics teams earn an average of $446,012 per year, while the nine head coaches of women’s teams earns an average of $119,297 per year. 

Racism exists on our campus. OSU saw a truck owned by a white supremacist, emblazoned with the phrase, “Racism is a disease, you catch it at a university,” parked on the edge of campus for a full week. 505 students voted to retain Andrew Oswalt, an “Alt-right” member of student government who openly expressed racist and sexust views, in his position. 236 students voted to put Oswalt on the student fee committee after reading his candidate biography: “We must secure the existence of our peoples and a future for white children.” 

Interacting with these issues first-hand has shown me that our community is not immune to the problems that face us nationally. Apathy, misrepresentation and exclusionary views plague our country and plague our community as well. 

However, what sets our problems apart from larger, national issues is that we, as a community, have the power to do something about them. Right now. 

This call to do better does not solely rest on the shoulders of university administrators. We as students not only have the power to, but the obligation, to step up and create change. I don’t think most students realize how much of an influence they can have on their campus. I have seen students march right up to President Ed Ray’s office and demand the university be declared a sanctuary campus, and it was. I witnessed the student body recall Andrew Oswalt from his position. I have met with students who strive to become invested in their campus by working at cultural centers, tutoring centers or student government. 

When students put their minds to something, they can create change. This is the biggest takeaway I have learned during my time as editor-in-chief. 

Just as I am charging the OSU community as a whole to do better, I will also charge next year’s staff at The Baro to do better. This past year was a whirlwind of unexpected events. With each twist and turn, our staff tried to serve the community by accurately and fairly reporting on issues which are important to you. However, just like the greater community, we need to do better. 

Journalism serves a vital role: to inform and educate, giving people the knowledge and information so they can instill change. In today’s polarizing world, journalism is essential now more than ever. 

It is our obligation as a newspaper to accurately, fairly and justly represent every community. We will inevitably fail at this. There have been times this year we have failed at this. However, when we do, we work to improve and do better the next time. 

However, every “next time” from now on will not involve me. As I step down from this position, I have the utmost confidence that every “next time” will be spearheaded straight on by Marcus Trinidad, your incoming Editor-in-Chief. After working with this paper for almost three years, Marcus understands not only the inner workings of it, but also the large obligation he has to serve his community. 

I encourage you to work with him and The Baro next year in order to create change. If we as a student body recognize issues exist and work towards changing them, great things will happen.