The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday May 25th

Column: Students should surround themselves with challenging ideas

jenny

Jenny Surane is the 2014-15 Editor-in-Chief. She is a senior business journalism major from Cornelius.

When I started this job one year ago, I made a promise to myself — I wouldn’t hire “yes people.”

I knew the only people I had room for in the newsroom were people with the guts to fight for the stories, visuals and editorials they believed in.

And every issue we’ve published this year is the product of that creative friction, which I believe made it a strong year at The Daily Tar Heel.

My approach to leadership isn’t flawless — just ask any of my editors. In the hundreds of papers we’ve published together this year, there’s probably been more than a few times that someone wanted to rip me a new one.

And some readers might not always agree that we’ve done as well as I think we have this year.

For example, in a recent interview with a columnist for The Daily Tar Heel, Chancellor Carol Folt offered the following criticism:

“I think you might be a little bit remiss if you think students’ impressions are captured by the editorial board of the DTH.”

To Chancellor Folt, this is all I have to say:

You might be a little bit remiss if you think students’ impressions of this campus are captured by leaders in student government and your Chancellor’s Fellows.

This year, University administrators were largely surrounded by “yes people.” And their efforts to use measures like bi-monthly discussions and emails to unpack important issues like race on campus weren’t helpful.

The University’s public relations team will hate this column. They want me to tell you how incredible it is that Chancellor Folt and UNC-system president Tom Ross ever initiated investigations like the Wainstein report and task forces to completely rewrite the school’s sexual assault policy.

They tell me all the time to remember what a crazy year it’s been for this place when I ask for administrators to give me real opinions.

Like I don’t know that.

Like I don’t know that this campus is hurting in so many ways.

Like I don’t hear from all of the students who see this predominantly white university struggle to make the right decisions when it comes to resolving racial tensions.

Like I haven’t heard from the brave women who brought this place to its knees with federal investigations examining how it adjudicates sexual assault.

Like I haven’t heard from professors in the Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies, a place that was crippled by the Wainstein report and wrongfully painted as the only perpetrator of systemic fraud in the athletic-academic scandal.

This is a time when administrators, faculty, staff and student leaders have to surround themselves with people who will challenge every preconceived idea we have about addressing these issues and many others.

So, dear reader, here it goes. My final words to you.

Find the people that will tell you no. Then stick with those people. Fight with each other enough until you come up with something great. Then take that something great and use it to change this campus permanently for the better.

It’s been an honor to be your editor-in-chief this year.



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