The first night of orientation week freshman year, a friend and I got hopelessly lost looking for a fraternity annex party. In our flailing attempt to find our way to an address texted to me by a senior I had met only hours earlier, we somehow ended up on the Ithaca Commons. In that moment, as we wandered down State Street, Cornell seemed impossibly large. What is this place, we asked ourselves. And what are we doing here?
Megan Roche and Emma Williams are graduating from the College of Arts and Sciences. Megan was projects editor on the 136th editorial board, and an assistant design editor on the 135th. Emma was design editor on the 136th board, and an assistant design editor in the 135th.
One of the most humbling conversations I’ve had this past year was with a hair stylist. I didn’t have the best first impression because she seemed a bit aloof and curt. But as strands of my hair fell, so did her initial coolness. I learned that she recently became a single parent and was struggling to raise her daughter, financially and emotionally. “Not having the best day,” she admitted.
To fully describe my past year at The Sun would require more space and more profanity than I am comfortable with or able to use here. All of the stresses and pressures of doing good journalism, the late nights, emotional stories, unforgiving deadlines and a critical readership, are compounded infinitely for student journalists. We live with, eat with, sleep with and study with the very subjects of our reporting — there is no escape for us from this paper’s impact — all while balancing our responsibilities as full-time students at a university not known for its easiness. It is enough to try even the most seasoned practitioners. But I cannot imagine a group of students handling those challenges with more grace, poise and talent than the members of the 136th Editorial Board.
Cornellians have a thing for pretentious names. We call our midterms “prelims,” our hills “slopes,” and our everything bagels “Long Island.” When it comes to stupid names, we at The Cornell Daily Sun are no better — and I’m not just talking about those times when design editor Emma Williams ’19 would sarcastically call me “Supreme Leader” in her emails. No, the pretentious name to which we are most attached is “compet.”
What is compet? The exact etymology is, like too much at Cornell, shrouded in mystery, but if you look closely, you’ll notice it bears a striking resemblance to the word “compete” with the second “e” lopped off. Coincidentally, compet is the time during which staffers at The Sun compete against each other for editorships.
Today is the final day of print publication this semester for The Cornell Daily Sun. Though we will continue to publish occasional stories online over the next month and half, the good folks at 139 W State Street have begun to shift their focus away from hard-hitting journalism and toward — God willing — passing their finals. But fear not, reader. On January 21, The Sun will rise once more from its winter slumber, replenished by latkes, Christmas hams, and various other winter foods of choice, and ready to shine its light on Ithaca again. This semester, The Sun proved again the need for quality, independent journalism on college campuses.
Something crazy happened this past summer. Thousands and thousands of Cornellians — one-quarter of all undergraduates — got up and left Ithaca, likely for good. And yet, last Friday, thousands and thousands of new students rushed to fill those vacant spots, ensuring that, at least for one more year, Cornell will remain at full force. Here at The Sun, we too said goodbye to a sterling senior class, of editors, writers, photographers, designers, business associates and more. But unlike our friends at the admissions office, however, we don’t have the benefit of being on the Common App.
Today, The Cornell Daily Sun puts its regular print copy to rest until the start of fall semester. It has been a busy few months for us at 139 W State Street, and I am immensely proud of the hard work that the 136th Editorial Board has put into providing our community with valuable journalism on the issues that matter most. Whether it was the tumult of Student Assembly elections, the John Greenwood saga, the protracted demise of Brian Wansink or a banner year for Cornell sports (LGR!), The Sun has been the place for coverage and commentary. As we close out almost a century and a half of publication, we continue to look for innovative ways to reach new audiences and cover new issues. This summer, The Sun will once again expand our digital presence with a student-developed iOS application.
Last Saturday, the staff of The Cornell Daily Sun met to elect its 136th Editorial Board. As it was with the thousands of editors whose names graced this page before us, our mission is to provide the most comprehensive coverage, detailed analysis, and thoughtful commentary on the events and issues that matter most to Cornell and her community. It is an honor to play a small role in continuing this tradition of journalistic excellence, and I am elated to do so with the amazing group that is the 136th board. In 1981, at the dawn of The Sun’s second century, Editor in Chief Steven Billmyer ’83 wrote that the yearly changing of the boards was “The Sun’s most powerful asset allowing the editors a flexibility — one commercial papers cannot match — to produce a paper that better reflects this dynamic community.”
As The Sun continues to confront the challenges of 21st century journalism, Billmyer’s words ring more true than ever. Each successive generation of editors reinvigorates The Sun, ensuring that we always remain intimately connected to our audience and our environment.
Someone is trying to kill Vladimir Kara-Murza. Someone is failing. The Russian journalist and democratic activist, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin, is soft-spoken but full of life as we sit chatting about politics in the atrium of Gates Hall. Kara-Murza is in town for a screening of his documentary Nemtsov, which tells the story of slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, and in an interview with The Sun he explained the story behind the film, and what he hopes to impart on his audience. “Boris was the best of us… so they killed the strongest,” Kara-Murza says when asked about the brazen 2015 assassination of Nemtsov that occured just steps away from the Kremlin.