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: On transition

Transitions are perpetual, uncomfortable and inevitable. Meet WSN’s new editor-in-chief.


Susan Behrends Valenzuela

(Staff Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)

Alex Tey, Editor-in-Chief

Dear readers,

This is a strange time to be attending college. Last spring was mostly online, last fall was mostly in person, and now we’re in this in-between zone where you can go to classes online if you don’t feel comfortable going in person (but only for a few weeks) and you can go to classes in person if you want (but can’t gather on campus for anything else).

As the virus persists at some of the highest rates ever detected at this university, some students are justifiably afraid of returning to in-person classes and gatherings. But other students hold understandable resentment for online education, particularly as the pandemic approaches its third year and the omicron spike fades

Today, we’re bringing you several takes on the issue. Our house editorial calls for NYU to mandate a remote option, we vent (as usual) on this week’s edition of Staff Rants, and our news desk covers the backlash against NYU’s decision.

I’m no expert on public health, nor do I have any expertise in education. But the world is going to move forward one way or another, and we ought to think carefully about what we want it to look like on the other side.

It’s true that most college-aged people are very unlikely to become seriously ill from COVID-19. But what about those who are? Should students who are immunocompromised or otherwise especially vulnerable to the virus have to fear for their lives when attending in-person learning? Should at-risk students be relegated to online sessions while others get to be in person? Should everyone go online to protect a minority of our peers? What about long COVID-19? Are students who are unlikely to get seriously ill from the virus still being put at risk of a poorly understood long-term illness?

I’ll leave you to decide what you think the right course of action is, and I encourage you to make your voice heard at NYU and in the pages of this newspaper. The only conclusion I’ll draw here is that decisions are inevitably going to be made with incomplete information.

For better or worse — despite how little we understand about long COVID-19, despite the risks endured by our more vulnerable peers, despite not knowing how severe the next inevitable variant will be — the virus is being treated more and more as part of the backdrop of everyday life: ubiquitous, but not a priority.

We’re in a state of transition, it seems, from a world dominated by COVID-19 prevention measures to one where some idea of normalcy is fighting to return. It won’t be easy, and it might not even be a good idea. Transitions are hard. Transitions take time. I would know.

The fact that I’m transgender is not the only thing about me, and it’s not even the main thing about me. But whether I like it or not, it’s a big part of my life and a major component of my identity. One thing that I’ve had to become comfortable with is the uncertainty that comes with living in a constant state of transition.

Uncertainty pervades my daily experience — not knowing how I’m seen by my classmates, if I’ll get gendered correctly while buying a coffee, whether I’m safe in a subway car. It hasn’t gotten much easier yet, but that’s not the point. I’ve just become much better at handling it.

Our staff at WSN have become accustomed to another variety of uncertainty. Apart from the inherent capriciousness of The News, our publication has been back and forth a lot in the past year or two. Last spring, we were entirely online after resigning the previous fall. This past fall, we returned to working out of our office all semester. Now, we’re online again for who knows how long. We hope to be able to return to in-person work soon, but we simply don’t know if or when that will happen.

This is to say nothing of the financial uncertainty that comes with running any small media organization these days, let alone a student newspaper born in the print era.

With that in mind, WSN is marking another significant transition this semester. The newspaper has traditionally produced a print edition, and for the past two semesters, we’ve published weekly e-print editions as budgets thinned and printing costs became untenable.

Now, in spring 2022, we’re committing to being an online-first publication. Finances did play a role in the decision, but frankly speaking, we’ve been left in the dust on so many aspects of modern journalism. Newsletters, podcasts, web design, digital storytelling in general — we’re behind, but we’re catching up.

We’re not ruling out the production of a couple special print editions this semester, but it’s not a priority. Our priority has always been and always will be serving the New York University and Greenwich Village communities, and we believe that to be best accomplished with a focus on digital media.

(If you want to stay up to date on our work, subscribe to our newsletter. You’ll get briefings on our newest articles every weekday, and on Saturdays you’ll get recaps and behind-the-scenes perspectives on WSN from yours truly.)

At the beginning of the previous semester, my predecessor, Ashley Wu, wrote about regeneration. Since then, we’ve gotten back on our feet. This semester, we’re hitting the ground running.

The world is in transition, and so is WSN. We hope you’ll join us.


Alex Tey

Contact Alex Tey at [email protected].

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About the Writer
Photo of Alex Tey
Alex Tey, Editor-at-Large

Alex Tey was previously WSN’s editor-in-chief. She is now at large. Watch out!

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