AY 2020-21, Issue IX | October 31, 2020
October 2020 Print Cover 
Carly Johnson/The Eagle
This is the latest edition of our newsletter covering our work from Oct. 24 to Oct 30. To read any of these stories and more, check out our website or our coronavirus website, which covers news related to the pandemic. 

Happy Halloween! The Eagle decided to give you a little digital treat of delivering the latest edition of The Eagle’s newsletter into your inbox, to celebrate the occasion. We’re just kidding, this is our regularly scheduled newsletter. Our real treat for you this year is that our digital print edition is out! This edition was reported, written and designed all remotely. For the cover story, Sophia Solano and Nina Heller followed the impact of the pandemic on the University’s finances, where a projected $116 million in losses prompts concern over AU’s future. You can view the full print edition here. 

Also, we have released our second DEI Update. Highlights from this report include a Q&A with SOC assistant professors Amy Eisman and Sherri Williams, a forthcoming initiative to publish articles in Spanish, and our commitment to researching our past coverage on race at AU. If you are proficient in Spanish and interested in teaming up with us to report and write articles in Spanish, please contact our Editor-in-Chief Sophie Austin at editor@theeagleonline.com.

By: Isabel Wolff
COVID-19 Update:

  • On Oct. 26, the University announced that AU will have a mostly online spring 2021 semester, while expanding in-person classes in selected areas of study, opening up limited housing and canceling spring break. The semester will also have a delayed start, beginning on Jan. 19. 

  • No new cases were reported as of Oct. 26, and there have been a total of 26 cases reported by the University for the fall semester. 

The Eagle Explains: Breaking News Coverage
By: Dan Papscun, Campus Life Editor

Our staff was forced to relearn how to handle breaking news last spring, as never-ending coronavirus updates stretched our News team’s bandwidth and abilities. At one point, staffers coordinated from a subway car, a cafe in London and the streets of New York City. 

That kind of coordination around breaking news has become the norm in recent months, as the coronavirus has prevented any of the in-person teamwork we used to depend upon during normal semesters. Because we can no longer gather in the office, Zoom and Slack are our primary methods of communication for everything — from this week’s news about the spring semester to updates about study abroad programs and more. 

As the Campus Life editor, it’s my job to help coordinate, write and edit much of that coverage. Because we never know when news will break, all Eagle staffers (except opinion writers) are assigned news shifts throughout the week so that no business hours are left uncovered. If something happens, we’re always sure to have a few people on standby. 

For certain stories, our staff may have a hunch that important news is about to break. In those cases we’re able to prepare a pre-written story with the information we already have. That speeds up our reaction time when news is actually announced. 

In other cases, we might not have the luxury of forewarning. These stories necessitate quickly organizing on-call staffers and editors so we can cover all our bases by reaching out to relevant sources, researching important details, writing, editing and publicizing on social media. Sometimes the story is relatively simple, like with many of the Monday emails students receive from President Sylvia Burwell. Other times, it’s anything but, like the news that AU was going online for the entirety of the spring 2020 semester

While we want to be quick, being accurate is always our first priority. That means that although we may tweet out a breaking news story before the article is complete, we’ll always verify every detail before sharing a word of our coverage. 

Have feedback about how we handle breaking news? We’d love to hear it. My inbox is always open. 


  • The fall 2020 semester’s Student Government election yielded a record-breaking number of voters, with over 1,100 votes cast within the first day and a total of 1,329 by the time polls closed, according to SG elections commissioner Sarah Gordon.

  • Employees at WAMU continued to push for the University to recognize their union after filing a petition with the National Labor Relations Board earlier this month.

  • The Washington College of Law hosted the 22nd Annual Hispanic Law Conference two weeks ago. The three-day conference covered the discussion of issues impacting the Latinx community, including the coronavirus, census, elections and social justice movements.

  • American University students launched a chapter of climate change advocacy group, The Climate Reality Project, this semester, with the goal of educating others and promoting public service to combat the issue. 

  • How can AU students have a COVID-safe Halloween in the DMV? While a traditional night of trick-or-treating and haunted houses may not be realistic during the pandemic, low- and medium-risk alternatives can help ensure that DMV residents celebrate safely.

  • AU students have relied on music to keep them grounded this semester, through playing instruments, listening while studying or curating new playlists. 

  • This year’s Overture production, “200222020,” introduced new freshmen theater majors to the American University Department of Performing Arts and explored the question of “What does it mean to be 18 right now?”

  • Hannah Shows wrote: "AU’s weekend production of 'The Women' satirizes the dramas of 1930s upper-class women, but it’s also a reminder that we have the agency ... to realize our own 'happily ever after.'”

  • Students and faculty within the Department of Performing Arts have adapted to virtual learning this semester. Read about how courses and student productions have changed.


  • As the women’s lacrosse team hopes for a full spring season, new lacrosse Head Coach Lindsay Teeters aims to continue to establish the AU lacrosse program as one that commands respect from its opponents. 


  • Staff columnist Therese Wilson wrote: “In an era of public health uncertainty, it is time to change the notion that ignorance is bliss, particularly from an expert.”