The independent news organization of Duke University

Introducing: The Community Editorial Board

For the past 13 years, the Editorial Board of The Chronicle has published weekly and, for much of that history, daily columns reflecting on issues related to Duke and the broader communities that the University touches. Comprised of students and advised by Chronicle staff, the Board strived to maintain its stated mission “to enrich campus dialogue by offering thoughtful opinions on a variety of issues; to hold students, faculty and administrators publicly accountable for their statements and actions; and to help students sharpen their journalistic and writing skills.”

In the time that we have been members of the Board, we have felt a consistent pride in the efforts made to uphold that mission. From excoriating the violent presence of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Durham to pushing for collective action on labor issues like the treatment of Resident Assistants and the quality of life of graduate students, the Board has been vocal and present in some of the most significant conversations being had on and off campus. At the same time, this work has not been without difficulty. 

Around a decade ago, the Editorial Board transitioned from a body of Chronicle editors to one of students independent of the paper. This past year, each editorial has concluded with this disclaimer: “This was written by The Chronicle’s Editorial Board, which is made up of student members from across the University and is independent of the editorial staff.” Still, it has not always been clear that the positions and opinions of the Board are not those of The Chronicle staff writ large. The lack of clarity behind what it means to be an independent yet affiliated body of The Chronicle while engaging with some of the most pressing and critical issues on campus led to a series of conversations on how to preserve the voice and platform of the Board while clearly delineating the opinions and comments of the Board from the Chronicle as a whole.

Following these and related discussions, Volume 115 will beckon a new evolution of the Board—the Community Editorial Board. As incoming co-chairs, instead of the traditional reflection on the ever-decreasing acceptance rate or welcome to our newest Blue Devils, we would like to reflect on the significance of this change and to outline our vision for the Board moving forward.

Traditionally, whether in large papers like the New York Times or college papers like The Daily Tar Heel, Editorial Boards are comprised of the paper’s staff and publish opinion pieces that are understood to represent the perspective of the paper. The Board’s independence from The Chronicle beginning in 2006 signaled a shift towards a Board that remained under the Chronicle platform yet embraced a distinct and nonrepresentative voice, similar to how opinion columnists do not necessarily represent the opinions of The Chronicle staff but still get published under its platform. 

As a further emphasis on the differentiation between the Chronicle staff and Board members, Board members are explicitly prohibited from writing or editing other daily or weekly sections of The Chronicle. Currently, between 10 and 15 voting members sit on the Board where members demonstrate a breadth and depth of knowledge, experiences and perspectives to contribute to the Board’s discussions on the weekly editorials.  Based on the consensus of the board’s discussion, the unsigned editorials are written anonymously by one voting member and later reviewed and approved by the Editor-in-Chief and Editorial Page Editor—as with any other column. As follows, the Editorial Board does not and can not speak for The Chronicle as a whole.

Just as the Board does not intend to speak on behalf of The Chronicle, neither are we attempting to represent the entire Duke community. Rather, our weekly editorials aim to bring light to variable issues from a critical, thoughtful angle through student voices in the community that are not typically found among staff. With this rebranding and clarification, we see an opportunity not only to continue our mission of enriching dialogue and holding our campus accountable, but also to expand the breadth of perspectives and issues included within The Chronicle’s pages.

As new co-chairs to this new iteration of the Board, we know there is significant work ahead to preserve this as a space for such critical discourse, but we remain optimistic. In this new year, Duke is poised to experience its own broad array of changes, from the transformation of Central Campus into parking lots to the grand opening of the Hollows and arrival of the newest first year class (welcome ‘23!). We’re hopeful that through each of these turns and along the twists that are as of yet unknown, the Community Editorial Board will remain a present, engaged participant. If you would like to take a look at some of our editorials from the past few years, take a look here, and feel free to shoot us an email with any questions.

Olivia Simpson (Trinity ‘20) and Jaewon Moon (Trinity ‘20) are the co-chairs of The Chronicle’s rebranded Community Editorial Board, a body comprised of student members with the goal of providing a collaborative space to voice opinions on current issues. The Community Editorial Board is fully independent of the editorial staff of The Chronicle. 

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