Undeniably the past several weeks have been a trying time for all. The widespread news of dwindling reserves of medical supplies, product shortages and entire nations closing their borders has been jarring. The local news of states of emergency being declared for Kansas City and Clay County, business closures and William Jewell College moving to online classes for the remainder of the semester has been both disorienting and overwhelming.
The staff of the Hilltop Monitor recognize that documenting the unfolding events is crucial and that our platform serves as a unique medium through which our readers can be kept up-to-date with the events at Jewell, albeit at a distance.
Hence, a four-part COVID-19 response plan has been developed for this publication that will remain in effect for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester. The plan is as follows:
1. Publication will shift to an every-other-week basis
While we recognize the necessity of continued publication we are empathetic to the individual struggles that each person, including our staff, is facing during this time and seek to offset that as much as is possible. New issues of the Hilltop Monitor can be expected March 27, April 10, April 24 and May 8.
2. Extremely selective coverage on the spread of COVID-19
Being a student publication, we do not have the resources to serve as a leading information source during this crisis. As we acknowledge both that reality and the danger that misinformation presents, we will not pretend to have more information than we do. Instead, we encourage our readership to stay informed by frequently viewing updates provided by the CDC and the World Health Organization.
3. Renewed focus on the Jewell community’s experience
Throughout the remainder of this semester we will engage in a conscientious effort to accurately portray the experience of Jewell community members during this pandemic. This includes documenting the college’s response to the situation, the impact of NCAA game cancelations, the consequences of canceled academic conferences and the experience of both students and faculty as classes move online and the campus is vacated. We also intend to pay special attention to Jewell traditions – such as the Honors Convocation and Duke Colloquium Day – in whichever format they occur. In doing this we hope to, in some way, recreate the community experience that an online education lacks.
4. Feature the stories of non-staff writers
Though this time is difficult for us all, we are each facing unique challenges, and some of us are luckier than others. Throughout the next few weeks we are extending an open invitation to our readership to submit articles about their own experiences in and reactions to this crisis, or to volunteer for an interview with one of our staff writers to have your story told. Submissions and inquiries can be submitted directly to email@example.com or through our Facebook page. This invitation is extended to current students, faculty and staff as well as parents, alumni and other Jewell community members. We recognize the value of authentic communication and the power of being heard. Throughout this crisis we offer our platform as a means through which our community can tell their stories.
As challenging as the past few weeks have been, and as daunting as the future seems, we are confident that our efforts to present the raw impacts of this pandemic will strengthen Jewell’s community ties.
Within our community alone, seniors are faced with uncertainty regarding their graduation and the immense challenge of finding employment in a rapidly declining economy. Student athletes’ seasons have been cut short. Professors are having to spend hours restructuring carefully designed curricula into online experiences – including lab hours and practicums. Staff’s schedules are being increasingly altered as some continue to work on campus and others have been instructed to work remotely.
The stories of our community deserve to be told, and the Hilltop Monitor volunteers and aspires to be the platform through which this is done.