New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Letter from the Editor: Why is WSN Coming Back?

Given the number of issues we had, why have we returned to the newspaper?
Susan Behrends Valenzuela
(Staff Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)

Dear readers, 

After we resigned last fall, it is no surprise that people are wondering why the newspaper has returned. As one of the three deputy managing editors who signed the resignation letter, I stand by the decision we made. The firing of our previous Editor-in-Chief in addition to the remarks made by our former advisor was unacceptable.

Included in our resignation letter was a list of 15 demands, which included the resignation of our former advisor and fundamental changes to how our Publication Board operates.

Before the resignation, our Publication Board included two professors from the journalism department, the Editor-in-Chief, and the Business Manager. Our former Editorial Advisor is no longer affiliated with the newspaper. The two professors involved in the Board have left the paper as well. For the past couple of weeks, I have worked with former WSN alums who are passionate about rebuilding the newspaper and in doing so, addressing the major issues that led to its abrupt hiatus.

The most fundamental of the coming changes to WSN is how we’re restructuring the board. 

We aim to introduce two additional staffers, one for the editorial staff and one for the business side. We hope that more student representation will encourage staff at WSN to express their thoughts without fear of backlash. After I graduate, I will stay on the board to help the next Editor-in-Chief transition into their position.

I plan to work with the Business Manager and WSN alums to revisit the Constitution and make sure that it clearly addresses the needs/expectations of the staff.

Although many of the problems concerning WSN were structural, we must also acknowledge the issues that exist within the newsroom itself. As a Black woman, I acknowledge the lack of diversity demonstrated in previous years. From my experience, I could count the number of people who looked like me on one hand, and it should not be like that. I want people from all backgrounds to feel that they have a place in the newspaper to voice their opinion. 

As the leader of this publication, I do not want to tokenize someone’s experience. I do believe that in order for WSN to create content that serves the student body, we need to accurately represent them. 

In terms of recruitment, I reached out to identity-based clubs in hopes that they would promote our Open House flyer. My managing editor, Paul, made sure that our flyer reached international students. I spoke with a former colleague about promoting our flyer to LGBTQ+ organizations, and I am willing to work on making our staff more diverse this semester. This is just one example of us looking for writers and other creatives from different walks of life, but we want to continue this mission for the rest of the semester. Given that NYU is a predominantly white institution, we are aware that this will be an uphill battle. 

This leads me to my last point, which is our contentious history with activist organizations on campus. When I first joined WSN as a news staff writer my sophomore year, I was briefly told that activist organizations were boycotting the paper, but there was no mention of how we could alleviate tensions and report on their issues. This led to us looking for tweets or other forms of social media as a substitute for interviews, which undercut the quality and impact of our stories in the long run. This letter serves as an invitation to any of the leaders from activist organizations to talk about how we can better cover this crucial part of the NYU community. 

Taking time away from WSN allowed me to think deeply about both the positive and negative aspects of the paper. I decided to return because I know that the newspaper has the potential to grow, and I wanted to be a part of that change. Despite its problems, WSN has been a part of my life that I treasure. Many of the people I met through the newspaper had a positive effect on me, and I want to share that with the people who decide to join this semester. 

To the readers who are reluctant to trust WSN, we are working to earn your trust back as a credible newspaper. We are going to do our best to make the paper the best it can be, not only for the staff but for you: the audience.

I hope that each person who reads this letter leaves with a sense of clarity about how the newspaper will operate differently. 


Alexandria Johnson

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, March 5, 2020 e-print edition. Email Alexandria Johnson at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Alexandria Johnson
Alexandria Johnson, Editor-in-Chief
Alex is a senior double-majoring in Journalism and Public Policy. She is a New York native (representing Queens!), and she loves to talk about how songs have gotten shorter recently, trying to meet her celebrity crush (she'll never tell) and her passion for painting album covers. She's definitely NOT a professional artist, but it helps her pass the time. Follow her on IG and Twitter @a_johnson_2021.
Susan Behrends Valenzuela
Susan Behrends Valenzuela, Editor-at-Large
Susan Behrends Valenzuela is a senior studying studio art at Steinhardt and minoring in Media, Culture, and Communication. She is passionate about the intersection of art and media, and is particularly fond of zines and small magazines. When she's not working or making art, she can be found co-running an art zine with her friend, rollerskating, sewing, baking or scrolling through Instagram.

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