To our readers,
Today, on Nov. 13 2023, we remember D’Sean, Lavel and Devin. We honor their memories, their lives and their legacies.
I’ve struggled to write this letter as we approach a year since the shooting. Time has both healed and made this more difficult to reflect on and write about, especially as a student journalist — someone who lived through the event and also had to cover it. How do you write about the death of your peers? How do you explain how it feels to report from a space that has been permanently marked by violence? How do you put into words the immense loss of three young men whose futures were so bright?
I’ve watched other student journalists across the country face the same impossible challenge covering the loss of friends, the immense grief suffered by people they live and learn alongside. I admire their strength, and mourn their losses.
As a student, I’ve struggled how much to share as I reflect on what happened on Grounds in the days that followed the shooting. I’ve found a lot of strength in others. I’ve laughed and cried with my friends. I’ve received advice from those who came before me and those who will come after me. Though I don’t know them personally, I’ve been inspired by Marlee and Mike, by the students and faculty who were on the bus home from the play, by the first responders and professionals who were there in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. I’ve been encouraged by the students who planned vigils, who stood under the cold, starry sky with candles held high, who wrote messages on Beta Bridge, who wear Devin, Lavel and D’Sean’s numbers over their hearts.
As a journalist, one of the things I grappled with most with the paper was how to cover the tragedy. There is no instruction manual for this. We confronted questions on the ethics of conducting interviews with fellow students, some of them friends, or professors who grieved and wept alongside us. How much of this did we want to share? How much of it was private? How could we cover something that we were processing ourselves? And ultimately, how do we move forward as an organization?
I’ve come to realize that there are no concrete solutions or answers to these questions, and that’s okay. There is the responsibility to “tell the history of now,” as we say at The Cavalier Daily. But there is also the reality of being a human and college student, of living in a tight-knit community full of passionate and caring people and bearing witness to events that simply cannot be summed up in an article.
Being a student journalist means grappling with those times when your identities and lives overlap. It means making difficult decisions. It means making mistakes. It means putting one foot in front of the other each and every day. It means continuing to report on issues that matter on Grounds and in Charlottesville, and I believe The Cavalier Daily has continued in that mission.
In January, we published the first print edition of The Cavalier Daily as the 134th term. I wrote a letter introducing the edition, in which I shared some memories of Devin, Lavel and D’Sean — I revisited it today and was again struck by the impact they made on Grounds. We’ve also collected all of The Cavalier Daily’s coverage following Nov. 13 in a report from our archivist, Grace Franklin. You can find her work here.
This week, our Editorial Board has written a piece reflecting on the tragedy, and our news team will continue to cover events focused on healing and community. Our photographers have quietly captured moments on Grounds for the past few days. You’ll be able to find all of this coverage on our website in the coming days.
Thank you to you, our readers, for continuing to engage with our work. As always, I welcome feedback, questions or concerns and can be reached at email@example.com.
Editor in Chief