AY 2020-21, Issue XV | January 22, 2021
Trump supporters gather at the Capitol on Jan. 6
Courtesy of Frank Piscani
We're back for the spring semester, with a redesign and on Fridays! This is the latest edition of our newsletter covering our work from Dec. 6 to Jan. 21. To read any of these stories and more, check out our website or our coronavirus website, which covers news related to the pandemic. 

By: Isabel Wolff (iwolff@theeagleonline.com)
Winter Break Recap

Capitol in chaos:

Considering the overlapping crises of the coronavirus pandemic, the inauguration and the Capitol insurrection, the University has heightened security measures across campus to address potential safety risks. Initially, on Jan. 7, President Sylvia Burwell condemned the pro-Trump riot, as did other members of the AU community. Phillip Morse, AU’s assistant vice president of University Police, told The Eagle that AUPD heightened its presence on campus due to the insurrection. On Jan. 11, in an email sent to the AU community, Fanta Aw, vice president of Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence, strongly advised students to avoid downtown areas, campus and public transportation around Inauguration Day. The following day, the University announced that all classes with some in-person instruction (including WCL classes) will be conducted virtually until Jan. 25. Additionally, access to campus buildings has been limited to further deter individuals from going to campus. 

The state of students returning back to campus: 

On Dec. 16, plans for the mid-semester residential experience (formerly known as the “mini-mester”) were announced. 1,250 full-time students will live on-campus, and preference will be given to freshmen; however, sophomores, juniors and seniors are also allowed to apply to live on-campus. For a cost of $2,478, and the additional $1,588 for the required meal plan, students will live in Anderson, Letts, Leonard, Hughes or McDowell halls. This marks the first large-scale move back to campus housing since COVID-19 initially brought a swift halt to on-campus residence last March. 

On Dec. 21, in an email sent to students who were admitted via the early decision process, the University announced that it intends to return to pre-pandemic housing and class plans for the fall 2021 semester. These plans were not formally announced to the student body and consequently, these plans are tentative and are subject to change due to the pandemic, a University spokesperson wrote to The Eagle. 

On Dec. 14, AU filed its 2021 campus plan with the D.C. Zoning Commission, touting it as a student-focused proposal. However, some students and community members are critical of some aspects of the plan and its rollout.

Sports are back:  

After much anticipation, the Patriot League announced that all spring and fall sports will return in 2021. Previously, only basketball was slated to return this month. Besides this, after more than 300 days without a game, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams have returned to Bender Arena. Currently, the men’s team has lost both of its games, and the women’s team has won one of its four games.


Want to know some of the media that got our Life staff through 2020? Read a list of some of the work that kept our staffers grounded during the difficult year, and consider bringing some of it with you into 2021.

The Eagle Explains: Our staff is thrilled to cover sports again
By: Spencer Nusbaum, Sports Managing Editor (snusbaum@theeagleonline.com)) 0))

After a barren 2020, sports are back at AU! 2021 is poised to be a different animal, but so far, it looks like the same beast. 

We will continue to adapt and evolve this semester. Games are slowly returning, and everyone is missing out on the spark of in-person athletics. Our courtside seats have moved to ESPN+ (when it doesn’t crash), and post-game pressers are all remote. Since our team is miles away from the action, we have to engage even deeper in the rigor of journalism. We are working harder to find new angles for those who caught the game and break it all down for those who didn’t. The Eagle has also added road games to our reporting, which burrows us even further into the work.

As such, the sports section is undertaking feature, enterprise and data-based reporting, committing to making our coverage more humanistic and multimodal. We’re engaging more narratives, including expanding our podcast.

But with all that said: This is a pandemic. So as reporters, we have to consider COVID-19 in our stories, and ask questions about it — namely, what the hell are we doing here? How is the department protecting student-athletes? Does the return to action prioritize what student-athletes want? And if they want to play (and so far, this seems like the case), then why is this the demand that the NCAA is meeting? Student-athletes have other demands — hire more Black coaches and staff, treat them with respect and, of course, (at the national level) pay them. At varying degrees, the higher-ups aren’t as moved to action. We should know why.

These are, journalistically, the ethical questions that lie ahead.

We love the games. That's a big reason why we do what we do. It makes it harder to take the 20,000-foot view, but tunnel vision is no excuse. The NCAA has decided to put 18-22-year-olds in jeopardy so that student-athletes can play basketball; we can watch, and they can profit. Our job is to cover the competition, but it’s only part of our work. We’d love it if you would join us and read along. Our staff is here to do the work.


  • After the University's announcement that spring break would be replaced with "Wellness Week," students circulated petitions to reinstate spring break amid mental health concerns.

  • As pandemic restrictions prevent in-person gatherings, The Center for Community Engagement and Service is encouraging students to engage with their community virtually with the launch of its two-week Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Challenge.

  • The University has suspended Alternative Break trips for spring and summer 2021, and programs will instead be conducted entirely online this year.

  • The AU community reacted to the resignation of former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos with condemnations of the policies she enacted, calling her legacy "damaging."

  • The class of 2024 cohort of AU's Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars is the first all-Black female cohort that the program has had. The five scholars all receive a full-ride, four-year scholarship.

  • Ten days before the election. Thirty hours in the car. Fifteen minutes to vote. Months before Joe Biden's inauguration, two AU juniors drove from D.C. to Texas to cast their votes after their absentee ballots weren't delivered.

  • The transfer of power from former President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden was preceded by voter fraud conspiracies and a Capitol insurrection. AU students reflected on the chaos, and the history made within the past two weeks.

  • In our latest club feature, Adriana Doria talked with On A Sensual Note on how its shift to a virtual singing format has affected the a cappella group.

  • From acne to windburn, the winter season can cause major skincare issues. Here are some products recommended by AU students that may do the trick without breaking the bank.

  • In the latest edition of Comfort Foods, sophomore Cheyanne Cabang talks about how the Lao dish tum mak hoong helps her connect to her family and heritage.