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Brenda Huang / Senior Staff Illustrator

Dear class of 2024,

While we can certainly resonate with the persistent feelings of fear and anxiety due to COVID-19, something nobody on the opinion staff can fully understand is how entering college during this unprecedented reality feels. What it means to be a college student, our awareness of the impact we have on our surrounding communities, and our obligation to surrounding residents have expanded for the better, but they have become more complex as well. As Black Lives Matters protests spread across the nation, we have been forced to confront essential questions of what matters beyond academic success and immediate approval. College is often presented to us as a magical place of opportunity and freedom, and with remote learning, we can only assume how it must feel to have a “reward” like this seemingly ripped away.

We can help with that.

The opinion pages are filled with a rich campus discourse made up of the experiences and fact-based theories of Columbia students, faculty, and community residents. They provide a comprehensive look into the most pressing, sensitive topics affecting the Columbia community and aim not only to engage readers but to further discussion and catalyze action. The opinion section can serve as your all-access pass to gaining a preliminary understanding of our campus and its people.

The pieces we have selected as part of this orientation issue focus on what it means to be a Columbia student in New York City and our obligations to a community we take so much from, how our previous education can be clouded by systematic racism, and how COVID-19 impacted other Columbia students in March. While these pieces characterize the current discourse, we encourage you to dive deeper into our archives to find impactful stories about topics such as the over 20-year plight of graduate student workers and a short history of anti-Blackness on campus. You can learn more about Columbia’s gentrification of Harlem, the shortcomings of the sexual assault policy on campus, and instances of COVID-19-exacerbated racism from students who actively engaged with these problems.

When you feel able to comment on the campus community, the opinion pages are available to host your own fact-based, argumentative contributions as an op-ed writer, columnist, video creator, and more. Check the Columbia Daily Spectator Facebook page for more information about the application process.

Good luck with your first year of college, and we hope to see you soon.

Tamarah Wallace, Editorial Page Editor

Senem Yurdakul, Senior Associate Editorial Page Editor

Ryan Oden, Deputy Editorial Page Editor

Karlton Gaskin, Deputy Editorial Page Editor

First-years COVID-19 Coronavirus NSOP Orientation Opinion Letter
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