The Signal…90 years counting

The Signal. The Junior Collegiate. The Evening Signal. The student-run newspaper of Georgia State has gone by several different names since its inception in 1933.   However, through 90 editor-in-chiefs, thousands of student staff members and millions of printed copies, the mission has always been the same; to bring the student body at Georgia State the most accurate, relevant and unbiased reporting.   The first issue of Georgia State’s student newspaper was released on Oct. 2nd, 1933. This issue marks 90 years and a day since that historic start. This organization’s history is not just a story of Georgia State, it is a story of our nation.   The Signal has never failed to report on the past century’s largest events from the student’s perspective here on campus.   We were there when World War II ended.   We were there for the Civil Rights Movement, a historic event with much of its roots right here in Atlanta.   We were there for it all.   Even when looking at recent history, The Signal was there to report on the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects it was having on our local community.   That important issue of this paper, released back in March 2020, marked the start of a new era for this organization. Just like all of you, we exist in a time forever changed by that terrible year.   Over these last three years, even in these complex times, The Signal has still made great strides to help students in conjunction with other student organizations and the university.   I want to paint you a picture of what The Signal has done to adapt and operate in this new world, from the perspective of students who have experienced it themselves.   Ada Wood was the editor-in-chief during the Spring of 2020, the year that changed this organization forever. Every GSU student was thrust out of the classroom and forced to watch their college experience pass them by. This event marked the death of the robust culture and chain of knowledge that had kept The Signal alive for 87 years at that point.   Brooklyn Valera was the editor-in-chief during the 2020-21 school year. A year marked by all online classes and an all-virtual production of The Signal. Members of The Signal tried to continue their work. However, due to the pressures of that year and an inability to be physically on campus, the organization suffered.   Matthew Siciliano-Salazar became editor-in-chief at the beginning of the Fall semester in 2021. At the time, the campus began to return to some sense of normalcy. However, irreparable damage had been done to The Signal and student engagement as a whole.   Many of the students and paper staff members who knew The Signal as a fixture of campus culture had graduated. We were essentially starting from square one.   The Signal’s offices in Student Center West were in a state of disrepair after years of abandonment. Most of the team at the time were either seniors on the verge of graduation or new team members brought up in a totally virtual organization.   In the Spring of 2022, Deena Kayyali took over as editor-in-chief to see out the rest of the year. During this time, The Signal did its best to produce a quality newspaper and reconnect to students as they came back to campus in force.   Even in this dire time, The Signal still served as a place for students to learn valuable career skills in a myriad of fields while also being part of a passionate team.   When reflecting on her time at The Signal, Kayyali said, “Working as Editor-In-Chief of The Signal allowed me to meet wonderful, passionate people, form precious memories and provided me with skills and experiences that opened doors for my career and future. I’m so thankful for my time with the paper, and it’ll always hold a special place in my heart.”   During this academic year, The Signal worked to investigate and report on several important developments occurring on campus. Among these were the Braves taking the World Series, Georgia and Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bills and most impactful to students, the battle with Georgia State’s parking department.   The end of the 2021-22 school year marked the end of several other things.   At this time, every member of The Signal who had been there before the start of the pandemic had graduated. We had no perspective into what The Signal looked like before it.   The faculty-student media advisor, who facilitated and administered all of Georgia State’s student media organizations for over a decade, left unceremoniously during the summer.   Also, changes to the doctrine and structure of student-funded activities on campus left The Signal lacking much of the necessary steam it would need to operate in the hostile world of student life on campus.   Due to these outside circumstances, it wasn’t until the final week of the summer proceeding the 2022-23 school year that I was appointed as editor-in-chief. An appointment typically decided on and processed months in advance of the beginning of a new academic year.   Considering these factors, this team has worked tirelessly to establish a new legacy for The Signal. We have worked to rebuild infrastructure lost over the course of the pandemic.   We have also strived to reconnect to the student body by being more engaged on campus and recentering our reporting to the things that matter most to students.   Reflecting on what will be my second year as editor-in-chief, third year at The Signal and final year as a Georgia State student, I have a lot of mixed feelings.   The student body here at Georgia State is special. The people here that I have had the opportunity to meet and work with have been some of the most important people in my life. I think Georgia State serves as a wonderful place for unique people to gather and connect with each other.   On the other hand, our system is flawed. In many areas, there is a fundamental disconnect between the wills of the students and the wills of the university.   Within Georgia State, we are already at a disadvantage when it comes to student engagement. We are a heavy commuter school, with a campus carved out of a major metropolitan city. It is hard to define what Georgia State is because it is hard to even define where our campus ends and the rest of the city begins.   These traits are not inherently bad things. They are what make us who we are. However, rather than play into our strengths to foster a truly special environment, the administration in this university is content to either sit indifferently to or in opposition to students who are trying to improve Georgia State.   This all makes sense when you think of it.  The product of an engaged student body and a robust student newspaper is that it forces more effort and accountability out of our administrators. It is in their best interest to put roadblocks in front of any student or group of students who try and operate in this realm.   It saves them time, it saves them money and it saves them from having to conceal any corruption or mismanagement.   The administrators themselves are a significant part of this issue to be sure, but they don’t hold all of the blame. There are systems in place that come from much higher circles which heavily hinder the ability for students to affect real change. That is another conversation, for another day.   For the remainder of my tenure as editor-in-chief, I will not stop doing my part to foster the health of this organization and the health of our student body. It is my hope that after I have left, others will continue this battle.   The Signal is important. The Signal is in very many ways the last true student media organization on this campus. We are the only ones who answer to nobody save for ourselves and you, the student body.   For as long as The Signal remains at Georgia State, for as long as you the reader stay invested in our mission, we will continue to be the voice for the students.   We will continue to be your shield against forces from within the university and out.   We will continue to be your ear to the ground on all things happening on campus and in Atlanta.   We will continue to be the student-run, student-led newspaper for this unique campus.   We will continue to be Independent, Impactful and Impartial.