Editor’s Note: A memorial fund to support WSN staff

Introducing the Sarah Raybin Portlock Fund for WSN. Also, top stories on masks, Taylor Swift, Ukraine.

Alex Tey, Editor-in-Chief

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Editor's Note

April 2, 2022
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Editor’s Note is a weekly newsletter from WSN’s Editor-in-Chief that brings you the week’s top stories — and the stories behind the stories.
Hi everyone!

This week’s Editor’s Note opens with a new segment that highlights the stories most worth reading from the preceding week, across all of our sections. Instead of going section by section, this newsletter will begin by featuring both the most impactful news and the most memorable writing.

I also want to highlight the closing section to this week’s Editor’s Note. WSN has recently launched the Sarah Raybin Portlock Fund in memoriam of a former WSN editor. The money raised with this fund will be used to support future staff at WSN. Keep reading to learn more.
A masked student sits in an NYU common room area. She is surrounded by tables, chairs and a foosball table.
NYU has lifted mask wearing restrictions in certain university spaces. (Staff Photo by Sam Tu)
This week's top picks.
Masking rules
NYU dropped its indoor mask mandate for certain spaces on Wednesday, but the change has been confusing in practice. Student opinions on whether it was the right move are mixed.

The city in photos
NYU’s multimedia staff make the case for slowing down in a collaborative photo essay.

Grandmother March
Jules Roscoe shares a traditional Bulgarian celebration of springtime bound in red and white thread.
War in Europe
Reporting from Paris, Juliana Guarracino and Stella Lin describe how students studying away there are feeling the effects of the war in Ukraine and aiding refugees.
The entrance to the Bonomi Family Admissions Center. On the left, a purple banner with the building's name hangs from the side of the building. Above the entrance are posters promoting the university featuring students and alums.
Some NYU admissions ambassadors say they feel unsafe after facing harassment during campus tours. (Photo by Kiran Komanduri)
Campus news
WSN reported on Monday that student admissions ambassadors have been harassed while giving tours and feel unsafe despite some policy changes. That same day, eggs were thrown at an admissions tour group near Washington Square Park. A prospective student was struck by an egg.

Taylor Swift was announced as one of NYU’s commencement speakers and honorary doctorate recipients.

NYU’s acceptance rate fell (again), with only 12.2% of applicants in the most recent admissions cycle being admitted.

More than 50 NYU faculty are among the signers of a petition calling for the permanent dismantling of a statue of former President Theodore Roosevelt.

With rents surging, many NYU students are struggling to afford housing off campus.
An illustration of three Oscar awards, with one placed further in front of the other two to create a triangle.
The 94th Academy Awards aired live on Sunday, March 27. (Staff Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)
Arts news and awards season
NYU faculty Questlove won the Oscar for best documentary feature and an NYU alum was recognized as a co-producer on best picture winner “CODA.”

You can also read our full Academy Awards breakdown“this year’s Oscars hit different,” Film & TV Editor JP Pak writes.

Speaking of awards, Yas Akdag interviewed NYU professor and veteran music producer Jim Anderson about the most recent of his 28 Grammy nominations, founding the Clive Davis Institute at Tisch, and pioneering new techniques for recording high-definition audio.

A mix of generations of the “Newsies” cast reunited for a 10th-anniversary concert. Caitlin Hsu reviewed the show.
An illustration of seven clocks against a pale yellow background. Each clock is set to a different time.
The Sunshine Protection Act would make daylight savings time permanent. (Staff Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)
Opinions, ideas, perspectives
This week’s house editorial argues that the United States should make daylight saving time permanent by passing the Sunshine Protection Act.

Alexandra Cohen thinks that easing the mask mandate at NYU was the right first step. (Not all of our staff agree.)

The City University of New York system deserves funding, and urgentlySrishti Bungle writes.

With Women’s History Month having drawn to a close, Valentina Plevisani argues that just one month isn’t enough — especially given the way NYU commemorated it.
Introducing the Sarah Raybin Portlock Fund for WSN.
Two photos. On the left, Sarah, a woman with light skin, brown hear, and a bright smile, wearing a gray T-shirt in an office with computers and windows behind her. On the right, Sarah wears a black dress and smiles at a table at an outdoor café.
Left: Sarah in the WSN newsroom as editor-in-chief in 2006. Right: Sarah, 10 years later.
In past Editor’s Notes, I’ve written about WSN staff stipends and how the amount we get — through the fault of no one in particular — is disproportionately low compared to the amount of work we put in.

This discrepancy is especially severe for WSN’s most senior roles: editor-in-chief and managing editor. While the latter position isn’t as high-profile as mine, it involves at least as much work, just on aspects of the paper that the public doesn’t see — the two of us work between 80 and 100 combined hours each week. The editors who come after us deserve more compensation for their work than we’re currently getting.

With that in mind, WSN’s managing board has established the Sarah Raybin Portlock Fund for WSN in collaboration with Sarah’s parents. The fund will serve as a memorial to Sarah, a former WSN editor-in-chief who passed away tragically in 2017, as well as a promise to future student journalists that their work deserves to be valued.

The passage below is from the fundraising page created by Sarah's family and WSN alums on NYU’s Rising Violets platform, which is where you can make a contribution should you feel moved to do so.

Sarah Raybin Portlock (1985-2017) was the Washington Square News editor-in-chief in 2006. She was not only an accomplished journalist, but she mentored and championed young journalists throughout her career, starting at WSN.

After WSN, Sarah worked at the Associated Press, Newsday, The Star-Ledger and the Brooklyn Paper. She eventually took the reins as the Wall Street Journal’s day editor where she was responsible for the daily editorial plan. On March 31, 2017, while Sarah was pregnant with her first child, she suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm and gave birth to Aviva Portlock Fellman. For seven months, she bravely fought to recover. Unfortunately on Nov. 6, 2017, Sarah passed away suddenly.

Sarah championed student journalism, not only as a way to inform a campus community, but also to provide the space and support students need to develop into thoughtful, rigorous journalists. We are honored to be able to start this fund in Sarah's name, with the specific purpose of supporting student journalists. Sarah's parents, Nancy Raybin and Bill Portlock, have made a generous inaugural donation to this fund. We hope you'll join us in supporting WSN in Sarah's name.

What is this fund?

Sarah invested in newsroom leaders of the future, and that's what this fund does.

The money will be put in an endowment, which will fund stipends for the paper's top editors – the editor-in-chief and managing editor. While those two positions will be prioritized, additional funds will be distributed to support other newsroom leaders at the WSN managing board's discretion.

All students should have an opportunity to step into WSN’s top leadership roles, which often require more than 40 hours a week in the newsroom while balancing a full-time academic load. We believe every student should be able to lead WSN without undue financial burdens.

WSN has been the training grounds for some of the top newsroom leaders in the world, like Sarah. We believe it's important to invest in the next generation of leaders who champion truth and fairness in the face of rising disinformation.

This is a joint effort between Sarah's parents, Nancy Raybin and Bill Portlock, and the 10-person WSN managing board, which consists of students and WSN alums. The board has made a concerted effort to stabilize WSN as an institution while empowering student journalists so they can have the same (or better!) opportunities as those who came before them. Meanwhile, Sarah's parents have been heavily involved in supporting WSN and student journalists.

If you’d like to contribute or know anyone who would, donations can be made via NYU’s Rising Violets platform.

Enjoy your weekend and the start of spring! Until next Saturday,

—the editor
Alex Tey's signature in tall, narrow, looping cursive script.

Alex Tey
[email protected]

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