The Hoya is very old. One hundred years old to be exact. My term is only one small slice of that flawed history. When I found out I would be editor in chief of this very old paper one year and two weeks ago, I thought my biggest stressors would be getting the Centennial Issue off the ground and printing the paper every week. Well, I think it’s safe to say I was pretty wrong.
The Centennial Issue happened, but our big party did not. I got to send eight issues to print as editor in chief, and now we haven’t printed since Feb. 28. The last time I was on campus, The Hoya was being fueled by Vital Vittles runs instead of unstable Zoom connections, and we were fighting for the future of print amid a hostile budget process.
I’ve seen The Hoya adapt and change so much since the beginning of my time here, especially in this virtual world, but so many substantive institutional problems persist. Change is integral to the livelihood of any student newspaper as it tries to properly reflect its campus, and The Hoya is certainly no different.
Those first four months of my term feel like a lifetime ago. To have to now distill this defining experience that started my freshman fall into 800 words feels insurmountable. Despite all my training, I’m still finding this moment rather surreal — then again, everything feels rather surreal right now. I will do my best to communicate something of value, but I can guarantee it will not be perfect or enough.
That anxiety, however, feels appropriate. One of my biggest mentors at The Hoya always made a point to say that, as much as The Hoya’s job is to do the calling out, we also need to be called out for us to do our job well.
Every editor in chief I’ve met sums up the job pretty succinctly: “You put out fires.” I must say, I never expected the fires to be quite so big. Leavey 421 can now be found at a recurring Zoom link, and sections’ homes within the office like the Copy Cave, the News desk and the Opinion couch have been transformed into breakout rooms. The virtual office somehow still manages to capture The Hoya that I remember, but also does not at all.
While I oversaw The Hoya adapting during my term, memory became something I ruminated on a lot, especially during quarantine. I miss holding the paper. At least one copy of every paper since I became a senior editor my sophomore fall sits in my desk at home. I miss being surrounded by decades of quotes pinned to the wall said by staffers I’ll never actually know but I very much do know. I miss the evening walk from one home filled with life and love in my Village A apartment to another on the fourth floor of the Leavey Center.
I used to think all the time about what spaces on campus felt like Georgetown University to people. Every time I had to give someone directions to the office, I remembered that not everyone knows about the elevators next to Vittles that have carried me to a place where I have made more memories than anywhere else on campus. That dingy, endearing office cannot be recreated, and yet we have had to figure out how to do just that since quarantine started.
I haven’t only thought about the campus memories I miss, though, but also the memories of how The Hoya has behaved in the past. The whole point of my position being one of only two yearlong roles at The Hoya is to preserve institutional memory. Only a handful of the staffers who will likely lead The Hoya next fall will have experienced a print issue firsthand, and I hope print will be a part of The Hoya’s identity again soon.
Rapid turnover also means The Hoya is constantly vulnerable to forgetting its history. We have made many mistakes in our history, and we need to remember them to be able to fix them.
In remembering how much we’ve changed, I also know we have much farther to go. Since I joined The Hoya, our staff has grown to 70% women, but we are still a majority white and high-income staff. The Hoya cannot do its job well if it is not accessible. I should have done more, and The Hoya needs to do more.
In the name of doing more, one of the goals of my term I hadn’t anticipated when starting the job was to figure out how we could start paying all of our staffers — a dream many senior leaders have shared but never thought possible or had the time to bring to fruition. Compensating our staffers is integral to any promise of diversity, equity and inclusion that The Hoya and myself have often fallen short on.
This goal will not be achieved during my tenure. After being told The Hoya does not qualify for federal work-study for many reasons from The Hoya being student-led to university and Washington, D.C. precedent, we had to reevaluate our plan.
While at least a temporary solution seems to be on the horizon, I have been reflecting on the question of unpaid labor. Georgetown is an institution that relies heavily on its students to function, yet so many organizations like The Hoya do not have the means to compensate their members for that work through the university, which limits the diversity of their memberships and people’s ability to move up within them. The Hoya needs to do more to make sure all of its staffers, not just its rich, white ones, feel supported.
Georgetown’s administration needs to recognize how much it benefits from its students’ unpaid labor. Groups like media or advocacy organizations provide distinct services that improve and define Georgetown, but they lack substantive recognition for this work, which limits who has the opportunity to be involved.
After doing this work for years, and especially this last year, I can now say I’ve seen The Hoya through more iterations of itself than most. People keep asking me what I’m going to do when I retire from The Hoya. I’m a few days away, and, honestly, who’s to say? I can say for certain, though, that I will adapt, and I know The Hoya will, too.
Kiera Geraghty is a senior in the College and the 146th editor in chief of The Hoya. Her term ends Saturday.