Letter from the Editor: Student self-governance does not stop at the ballot box

Our campus newspaper cannot hold our leaders accountable without your help

20180219-StudCoPresForum-SLindamood

The Cavalier Daily held a forum for Student Council's presidential candidates Monday evening.  

Sarah Lindamood | Cavalier Daily

Our tradition of student self-governance continues this week as we cast our ballots in numerous races and referenda. But student self-governance does not stop at the ballot box. As members of this community, student self-governance challenges us to hold our leaders and institutions accountable for their promises and actions. The Cavalier Daily provides an important avenue for our community to ensure this system is properly functioning and responding to student needs — and we can’t do it alone. 

As the newspaper of record at the University, The Cavalier Daily has long documented student life and leadership. When the newspaper was founded under the name College Topics in 1890, its editors wrote that, “We have associated with ourselves the ablest corps of reporters in the world.” 

“Toward the faculty we will maintain a dignified independence, while politically, impartiality will be our chief characteristic,” the paper’s editors wrote in January 1890. “Without prejudice and without fear we will criticise all factions and parties where their conduct is reprehensible.” 

The Cavalier Daily has greatly changed over time, but the principles of editorial independence and robust reporting remain constant. In this system of student self-governance, you’ll find us covering the details of weekly Student Council, Honor Committee and University Judiciary Committee meetings. We delve into the Board of Visitors agendas, file Freedom of Information Act requests and work to get student leaders and administrators on the record. 

After this week’s student elections, The Cavalier Daily is committed to reporting on our elected leaders and holding them accountable. But we cannot pursue truth by ourselves. 

We are your community paper. We depend on your news tips, your letters to the editor and your feedback. 

What can the paper be doing better? Is there a story we are not covering? What interesting projects or initiatives are underway, but going unnoticed? Where is the University succeeding and where is it falling short? Are student leaders fulfilling their responsibilities? Are there voices in this community being silenced and voices being over-amplified? A system of student self-governance demands that we reflect on, discuss and critique such questions. 

My hope is that The Cavalier Daily can serve as a platform for this kind of community-building to take place, and that our readers will continue to engage with us to make this vision a reality.

Civic engagement and local news consumption are closely tied, and independent student journalism has a role to play in informing and supporting our system of student self-governance — both during this week’s elections and in the year to come. 

As readers, writers and editors, we must work together to keep student leaders accountable. 

Tim Dodson is the editor-in-chief of The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at editor@cavalierdaily.com



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