Letter from the Editor: On Resuming StudLife Online Publishing

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We’ve included a list of mental health-related resources below this short note.

This week, Student Life is resuming the publication of some online stories, our first articles since Friday, February 11, when sophomore Orli Sheffey committed suicide.

Over the past month and a half we have taken time to mourn and remember someone who has inspired so many of us. Orli was a friend to so many and cared deeply about creating a better world, both in general and in this newspaper. She reported difficult issues with drive, balance, and empathy. She asked thoughtful questions that more experienced editors at the paper had never considered and established a relationship of trust with everyone she met. Orli was always the person who reminded others to treat sources like human beings.

We have also taken the time to think about how we can make StudLife an organization that better supports its students. As well as being an incredibly insightful and empathetic journalist, Orli was also a strong advocate for the mental health and well-being of StudLife staff. She saw how the long, unpredictable and stressful hours of the newspaper exhausted her and other staff (especially those on the news and design teams), making life at WashU more difficult without offering enough support. rewarding experiences. Orli wanted staff members to be able to better balance their dedication to the journal with the rest of their academic experience.

Orli pushed the newspaper’s management to establish better boundaries between work and private life. She also wanted to make sure future staffers didn’t feel pressured by certain members of Washington University Student Media, Inc., the council of alumni and journalism professionals that controls StudLife’s finances and selects the editor. She wanted us to make it easier for students to prioritize themselves while doing important work they could be proud of.

Yet we haven’t done enough to support Orli and act on his advocacy. At the end of the fall semester, she and the other senior news editor resigned. They wrote in an email to press staff that the position in its current form had not been conducive to their well-being.

After the resignations, we restructured timelines, added staff to reduce the burden of some key positions, and introduced ways for people to formally schedule time off for themselves. Orli told me in February that the changes seemed to be helping. But there is so much more to do.

I regret that during my tenure, StudLife did not do more to achieve the goals Orli sought. I wish we had done more to make StudLife a happier place. I also encourage you to read Orli’s Mother’s Essay to better understand the issues Orli faced and the importance of recognizing and addressing mental health issues.

I hope that by publicly discussing Orli’s calls for change as I step down from this role, I can drive home the need to continue to focus on staff welfare in the future.

Tomorrow, sophomore Julia Robbins will take over as StudLife’s editor for the year 2022-2023. Julia has been very active in our conversations over the past few weeks about how to better support staff members, so I’m excited to see what she and her team are doing to create a better, more supportive journal and a best WashU community.

Better,

Matthew Friedman

Editor-in-Chief of Student Life 2021-2022


Students can schedule free counseling appointments through Habif Health and Wellness at this link and can register for 24/7 access to mental health services through TimelyCare at this link.

Behavioral Health Response (BHR) is a Missouri organization that provides crisis support, telephone counseling, and mental health resources. They can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-314-469-6644.

The Steve Fund, an organization dedicated to the mental health and emotional well-being of students of color, has a 24/7 crisis text line which can be contacted by texting STEVE to 741741 .

The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization for LGBTQIA+ people, can be reached by calling 1-866-488-7386, texting START at 678-678, or online.

The Dougy Center offers resources to young adults struggling with bereavement.

Uncle Joe’s is a confidential resource with student counselors trained to provide support for a variety of issues. Advisors are available by phone 24/7 at 314-935-5099 and in person during business hours from 10:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free, confidential support 24/7. They can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 or online.

Student Union has also developed a more detailed list of mental health resources on and off campus.

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