Staff Editorialcsudhbulletin September 19, 2022 0 COMMENTS
Twenty-eight days. Sounded like a lot at first. But subtract weekends and spring break and it was only 12. Sure, we were halfway through the spring semester, but the campus wasn’t closing and we’d be back April 13. Plenty of time for finals and graduation and how hard can this Zoom thing be anyway?
Five days later, wondering what alternative instruction would look like was the least of our worries. National and local emergencies had been called, March Madness axed, travel bans instituted, the Bay Area was under a shelter-at-home order, images of a reeling New York City on our TV looked like one huge open air morgue; and at California State University, Dominguez Hills, all staff were now working remotely and president Thomas A. Parham amended his announcement˛
of five days earlier, telling the now-remote campus that the rest of the spring semester would be virtual.
In less than a week, 28 days turned into two months; but the multiplier we were concerned with was the exponential growth of COVID-19 cases. It was dark and it would get darker but at any point did any one of us imagine that it would be more than two years before students would be on campus at the beginning of a semester?
That’s what happened on August 29, the first time in 899 days that CSUDH students walked onto this campus and began a semester with classes open. No, it
it still doesn’t feel like whatever normal will eventually look and feel like; not with an indoor mask mandate still in place.
But considering classes weren’t delayed for two weeks, as they were in Spring 2022, the parking lots are full and the Greeks are assembled on the west walkway, this feels like a real college campus for the first time since March 12, 2020.
The original idea for the first issue of the Bulletin this semester was to try to tell the story of that campus over those 899 days, but through numbers. Sort of similar to what Harper’s does with its index every month. We did some research and reached out to campus organizations and we got numbers. Lots of numbers. Some dealing directly with the impact of the coronavirus:
55: number of housing insecure and homeless students provided case management and emergency funding for hotel and dorms stays through basic needs in 2021-22
50,000: dollars raised in November and December 2021 for holiday food distribution events.
We had big numbers about good things and big numbers about not so good things
8 million: dollars donated to the university the past two years.
7.5 million. Dollars in the budget deficit faced by CSUDH in 2021 after state cutbacks.
We had small numbers that told big stories
4: number of first class of graduates with bachelor degrees in Women’s studies
5: number of battery collection bins installed on campus by the Office of Sustainability
6: elimination games won by the CSUDH softball team in its incredible postseason run in 2022, which ended with them making the finals of the NCAA Division II World
We had numbers that told sobering stories:
28: percentage increase of student mental health appointments from student psychological services February 2020-April 2021
1: number of additional mental health counselors, February 2020-April 2021.
We had numbers that made absolutely no sense being next to each other
But we quickly realized that we had too many numbers and not enough time to arrange them into some kind of coherent narrative. So we scrapped that idea. Besides, the only real number that has mattered these past 899 days is the number one. As in every student who has graduated or continued or began their higher education. Every one of us who endured the fear and the uncertainty, the isolation and boredom, the spotty internet connection, faces frozen in mid-sentence and that kid who could never figure out how to turn off that mic. Every one of us who endured getting sick, or worrying about getting sick or losing friends and family, of being part of that demographic that couldn’t afford to stay home and not work.
And because we endured, Toro Nation endures.
And it is the hope of the fall 2022 Bulletin staff , though bloodied, that Toro is unbowed and will once again stride boldly toward realizing president Parham’s oft-stated and laudatory goal: of this university being a model urban university.
No, check that. We’re not hoping for that. All the hope in the world and $3.66 will buy you an LA Times these days. We are going to help achieve that goal through our work as student journalists. By accurate reporting on the stories that matter; of asking questions, especially the tough ones; of documenting and chronicling and writing stories that in some way big or small capture something about what it means to be at this university in this place and at this time. Of using our voice. One that regardless of whether it is speaking truth to power, or giving voice to the voiceless, or whether it is lavishing praise or raising just a little bit of hell, is the voice of the student body at this university.
For although journalists, even student ones, aren’t supposed to be cheerleaders, we are all Toros.