My name is Sarah Menendez and I am currently serving as Editor-in-Chief of the New University. I’m a fourth-year literary journalism and political science major that watches more television than I should and I’m in love with Zayn Malik. When I’m not visiting my family in my hometown of Bell, California, I’m probably wasting money on concerts.
This is my fourth year at the New U and third year on the editorial board. My job as Editor-in-Chief means that I read and edit the newspaper front-to-cover every week, but it also means that I need to listen and engage with students so that I can better serve them as a journalist.
“The New University is the official campus newspaper of the University of California, Irvine, it is student led, student funded and independent.” I’ve said those words more times than I can count; in front of classes, administrators, new students and on Ring Road. Sometimes, I feel like those words are just formalities, the kind of stuff I need to get out of the way before I actually get to my point.
Most days I say it with pride. We are the only official newspaper on campus. We are completely independent from student government and university administration. We are students that come together every week to produce a publication that seeks to inform and engage UCI. We are funded by Measure U, a student fee initiative that the student body voted overwhelmingly in favor of in 2013.
I had the honor of being part of the team that worked hard to pass Measure U. It was a difficult time for the New U –– we were facing the possibility of going out of print completely after trying everything from cutting pages to cutting wages in an effort to stay above water. We didn’t want to ask students for money. As undergraduates ourselves, we felt the unbearable weight of UC tuition and student fees –– the last thing we wanted to do was add more to it. The decision to take this initiative to the students is one that we made with heavy hearts, but the result has changed us as a publication for the better.
Every day I spent campaigning for Measure U made me think about the purpose of a student newspaper and allowed me to reevaluate whether or not we were actually fulfilling that purpose. The New U is supposed to represent the students. We are supposed to investigate on your behalf, write stories to keep you informed and connected and provide you with a space to voice your concerns.
When students passed Measure U, I made it my purpose to serve you. The New U is a public service that you pay for and it should actively seek out your input and concerns. In fact, it should always do so, with or without your 99 cents.
This paper is student funded and student run. When I say student run, I’m not only referring to my brilliant staff that sits in the newsroom for an entire Sunday to create a newspaper every week. When I say student run, I mean you too. Without the readers, without the students, we are nothing.
Our staff is comprised of students that are involved with different organizations and interests across campus. But even with our combined experiences, we miss some things and we may forget what students outside of the New U are thinking. I’m going to do as much as I can to get out there and hear you out, and if that means standing on Ring Road and handing out papers every Tuesday, that’s what I’ll do.
I want to make this paper accessible to you. I want to be accessible to you. I know that there are some people out there that don’t even know we have a campus newspaper, and even though I suffer a huge blow to my self esteem every time I hear “We have a school newspaper?” I want to reach those people too. I’m going to publish these letters every few weeks to update you on what we’re doing and ask for your thoughts on how we can better serve you. I want to know about the topics you want us to cover, I want to hear your suggestions and I want to hear your complaints.
You can email me at email@example.com, follow me on Twitter @SarahMenendez and tweet me your thoughts about the New U, post on our Facebook page, comment on our articles online, or come see me in the newsroom in student center C114 –– I’m here six out of seven days of the week.