PARTING SHOT: Satisfied with taking my job seriously

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Alexis Gravely was the Assistant Managing Editor for the 129th term of The Cavalier Daily. Prior to this, she served as the Senior Associate News Editor during the 128th term. 

Courtesy Gabby Fuller

I recently read a tweet by “The Black Sheep UVA” account that listed, “CIOs that take their job too seriously.” At the top of their list was “cav daily.”

First of all, to clear up a common misconception, The Cavalier Daily is not a contracted independent organization — it is an independent entity from the University and a 501(c)(3) registered non-profit in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Can’t you tell I’ve had plenty of practice pitching this?

Second of all, The Black Sheep’s tweet is half correct. In my three-and-a-half years as a writer and editor for The Cavalier Daily, I think it’s fair to say that I definitely took my job seriously.

I took my job seriously because it was a serious job. What other 400-person organization on Grounds is devoted to holding the University accountable — which was often a challenge when the job of its communications department is to uphold its “pristine” image — a job they, much to my frustration, did pretty well? Who else is going to stir discourse among students — for better or for worse — as the result of an eye-opening news story or a controversial opinion column?

What other organization sent four of its student journalists — myself, Tim Dodson, Anna Higgins and Daniel Hoerauf — directly into the horrific events of Aug. 11, 2017 and Aug. 12, 2017?

There is no organization like the The Cavalier Daily. 

I’ve had so many amazing opportunities as a member of this newspaper. I was one of the first people to tour the newly-renovated Rotunda prior to its opening to the public. I have interviewed both former University President Teresa Sullivan and current President Jim Ryan. I’ve teared up while listening to the stories of U.Va.’s mistreated workers, and I’ve felt anger while reporting on my peers’ delayed financial aid packages. I’ve been given a unique opportunity, and I’ve tried to use this platform to uplift the voices and concerns of minority students on Grounds.

But The Cavalier Daily wasn’t just an unpaid job or an extracurricular activity. It was a home. It’s a cheesy and cliché statement to make, but it’s the truth. 

By the middle of my second year at U.Va., I was questioning whether or not there was truly a place on Grounds for me. I ended up finding that place in the basement of Newcomb Hall, when I’d walk into The Cavalier Daily’s offices at 7 p.m. and stay until midnight. It wasn’t always the best place to be. It was stressful, it was frustrating, it was me asking myself, “Why on earth am I doing this?” 

But even when the work itself was less-than-glamorous, it was the people that made it worth it. I made my best friends in The Cavalier Daily office — people that won’t just be at my wedding but will be in my wedding. Tim Dodson, Ben Tobin, Gracie Kreth, Ashley Botkin, Sonia Gupta, Jake Lichtenstein and Nate Bolon are all one-in-a-million people, and I’m forever grateful that this newspaper brought me to them.

Obviously, the organization still has work to do. A quick flip through our archives will show that The Cavalier Daily has a questionable past — just as many long-standing organizations on Grounds do. During my time as assistant managing editor, I was the only black woman among the paper’s leadership, including the Junior Board and the Managing Board. And yes, there are more than a few moments when the coverage on the paper’s pages include white organizations more than black and brown organizations. 

With “diversity” and “inclusion” often used as buzzwords, actions speak louder than words. I hope that as I continue to read the work that these journalists produce, their actions with respect to these issues will become more salient. The power of words cannot be overstated. I hope that future writers and editors of The Cavalier Daily use that power responsibly. 

Alexis Gravely was the Assistant Managing Editor for the 129th term of The Cavalier Daily. Prior to this, she served as the Senior Associate News Editor during the 128th term. 

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