AY 2020-21, Issue XXVIII | April 23, 2021
Carly Johnson/The Eagle
This is the last edition of our newsletter for the 2020-2021 academic year, covering our work from April 16 to April 23. The newsletter will now move to a monthly edition in the summer. To read any of these stories and more, check out our main website or our coronavirus website, which covers news related to the pandemic.

Want to join The Eagle? Staff applications for the summer/fall semesters are open now! Click here to apply for our news, life, sports, opinion, El Águila, multimedia, or online teams. Applications close May 14.

By: Isabel Wolff (iwolff@theeagleonline.com)
The Eagle Explains: Being an AAPI staffer and covering AAPI communities 
By: Daniella Ignacio, News Staff Writer (dignacio@theeagleonline.com)

One of my first memories at The Eagle was Editor-in-Chief Courtney Rozen sitting down with me in the office and asking me how things were going during my first semester in fall 2017. A little while later, I was asked to be part of a small taskforce with upperclassmen editors to find and work on more diverse stories. I always wondered, “Why me?” A freshman who was in the Life section and has no reason to be singled out as a particularly standout reporter who should be part of an elite group? At that time, the role of Community Engagement Editor, currently Fariha Rahman, was not part of staff yet. We didn’t have regular DEI meetings. And so I rolled with it. I knew how important it was to tell these stories.

As a Filipina American journalist and theater artist, it’s always been important for me to uplift BIPOC voices in all my storytelling, but my path towards gaining the strength to do so was not always easy. During my freshman year, I wrote an article about the then-new family program at AASU. I’ll never forget seeing some members on the quad after the article was written, who told me how incredible it was to see themselves being represented in the article. But weirdly, as I ended that reporting process, I felt like I couldn’t be a member of any affinity group if I wanted to cover it, because how can I be objective about something that’s a part of me? Over time I would go from being a member of an AASU “fam” to being completely unable to detach the journalist version of myself that is supposed to know as much as possible, from the Filipina part of myself that was still growing to understand and celebrate my heritage. I was paralyzed by the thought of “How could I tell a story about something that I had still not really understood about myself?” For me — and this is incredibly difficult to write — it was almost easier to stay in a predominantly white space. I’d grown to learn how to deal with things, because I’ve attended predominantly white institutions my whole life and haven’t always known what it truly means to truly take up space and be unapologetically Asian, which is unapologetically me. 

In future semesters, my role at The Eagle would change from being a Life staff writer to more behind-the-scenes managerial positions because I realized that I could make more changes from these positions. Over this past year, I’ve come to the conclusion that no one can ever be fully objective. And it’s important to me to be empathetic and raise up voices and do a story right. Trying to abide by some impossible standard of objectivity is no longer my main concern. I want to create a safe environment when interviewing people — I ask everyone for their pronouns, name pronunciations and name spellings when interviewing. I can connect with people who have similar life experiences to me. Now, I have a better sense of who I am as a reporter and a person, and I’m finishing up my time at The Eagle as a news staff writer. 

Over the past two months, I’ve been working on two stories about the Asian Studies program and the decade-long efforts to make it more inclusive for the wide diaspora of AAPI students. I started speaking with past and present program heads to learn more about its history and discovered past events held by the program that The Eagle had never reported on. I also reached out to student leaders from the most recent initiatives. For the majority of this process, I was upset that no one had ever even thought to cover these conversations before: conversations about intersectionality within the Asian community, the convoluted nature of working with administration to change things and the connections between Asian groups on campus. This story was something I’d thought about since my freshman year. It took me the courage until now to actually do it, when Fariha pitched out the story this semester based on the most recent initiatives. And I knew I had a responsibility to do it right. 

I also knew that I needed my own time to rest and grieve as I kept track of the endless anti-Asian hate crimes reported by organizations like NextShark, who will report on them when no one else is. While reporting on this story, more tragedy struck, because the Atlanta shootings occurred in the middle of the process. Due to the overwhelming sense of grief and anguish — brought on by overbearing media coverage, my peers’ activism through Instagram stories and the discussions of the tragedy in my classes — I had to take a break from working on this story. My brain simply could not handle it. I wanted to take my time with the process and I did that. In the end, I ended up writing two articles about this story, as a series about this topic. I’m incredibly proud of how they turned out and I hope that this is just another beginning to even more coverage of AU’s AAPI community.

Despite my initial apprehension in the beginning of my time on staff, The Eagle is 100 percent the reason why I am still a journalist today; it’s why I understand how important it is to report on the stories that matter to a community and why I have the skills and confidence to continue to write. Getting real-world reporting experiences before entering a professional newsroom is a privilege. The training, the high you get from telling a story well and the mistakes you may make along the way are something to learn from. The breaking news, the long form investigative pieces, the multimedia and print projects… the wide range of experiences you get at a daily newspaper that you simply can’t get anywhere else in student media, not even always in classes. I hope that more AAPI staffers can cover the communities that matter to them and get the chance to experience their own journeys. Being part of a newspaper will always have its ups and downs, and I can’t promise any staffer that it will be perfect. But I’ve seen us grow in spades over the past four years. We have started the work. We have to keep going.

COVID-19 Update:
  • On April 19, 11 COVID-19 cases were reported by the University for the week of April 5. There have been a total of 170 cases reported for the spring semester. Seven of the previous week’s cases were reported from students living off-campus, and three cases were from faculty and staff. One case was reported among students living on campus. There have been over 25,000 tests administered so far this semester, and nearly 2,600 tests were done last week. 
  • On Monday, President Sylvia Burwell announced American University's new brand campaign "Challenge Accepted" to replace the previous “WONKcampaign that was launched in 2011. 

  • The University has apologized after falsely admitting the entire Class of 2025 to the AU Honors Program. The newly admitted class received an apology email from the administration saying the mistake was “due to an error in one of our database systems.” 

  • Todd Park, former Obama administration official and health care entrepreneur, will address the Class of 2021 as the commencement speaker for the virtual May 8 graduation ceremony, AU announced on Wednesday.

  • Following the University's announcement that students could choose two classes to be taken as pass/fail, student groups call for more transparency and better communication from the administration. 

  • Over 60 students from 19 different universities attended the first-ever KSAcon, a virtual convention held by the American University Korean Student Association used to address recent violence against the AAPI community. 

  • As part of its "Women of Color Trailblazers" series, The Blackprint hosted Michaela Jaé “MJ” Rodriguez to speak about her extensive performance career and activism Wednesday. 

  • AU Tutoring Corps, which launched in January, is now offering a Federal Work-Study Opportunity that virtually connects students with the children of AU faculty who need support with schoolwork.
  • BIPOC musical theatre and theatre students continue to fight for diversity and inclusion within the Department of Performing Arts since there have been issues with a Euro-centric curriculum and typecasting within shows.

  • The American University Dance Program's event “DANCEWORKS 2021” overcame the virtual setting with its ingenious adaptations to an online space. 

  • Over 50 D.C. restaurants have joined the app Too Good To Go since it became available in the DMV area on March 4th. The app gives businesses the chance to cut down on food waste, sell less popular products and reach a diverse market. 

  • Jeremiah Cohen started Bullfrog Bagels as a pop-up stand in 2014, and now the hand-rolled and mostly locally sourced bagels just got much more accessible to AU students.

  • AU alum Freddy Scott channeled his passion for various entertainment industries into producing and on-camera work for RuPaul’s Drag Race. Now, Scott is encouraging further visibility and appreciation for drag.

  • As the semester comes to a close, The Eagle compiled a Spotify road trip playlist full of music to inspire you to look towards better days ahead.  
  • The AU men’s soccer team will advance to the NCAA men’s soccer tournament for the first time since 2004. This comes following its defeat of Lafayette 2-1 Saturday.

  • AU sports teams including field hockey and men's soccer are embracing the sports science and analytics movements with wearable technology and data tracking.

  • AU field hockey defeated Lafayette 3-2 in their final game of the regular season. The double-overtime win advances the Eagle's to the Patriot League tournament.

  • Staff Editorial: "Everyone wants the fall semester to be as safe and as successful as possible. The University’s responsibility to the AU and D.C. communities cannot be overstated."

  • Opinion: "Individuals who lack access to necessary transportation, have child care needs, have disabilities, are low-income or do not live in a location with many opportunities now have an easier way to gain work experience."