Flames of the Torch: 99 years in the making

The Torch is proud to welcome it’s 99th editorial board, elected late last month in our second virtual election day. We can’t usher in this new editorial board without some parting words of wisdom for them as they work hard to close our first entirely-virtual year out strong. Elected as Editor-in-Chief of the publication is Alicia Venter, who has helmed the news section all the way from her small hometown of Berea, Kentucky, this year. Past e-Boards likely remember Alicia when she first joined her freshman year as that one staff writer who reported on multiple news stories and events every single week. If her work ethic was any indicator of it then, we can rest assured that Alicia will guide the Torch fearlessly in its continued pursuit of information/the important stories. We couldn’t be more confident in both Alicia’s dedication to the Torch and her ability to lean into the new digital format of this publication as it approaches its centennial. As her right hand is Managing Editor Priyanka Gera, another integral piece of our team these past few years. From revamping the Torch’s Culture section as the 2019-2020 editor, to acing her MCAT, Priyanka has shown the grit and dedication it takes to help run this newspaper. 

Elected as Digital Editor is Sophie Williams, who also ran a section from states away this past semester. We are excited to see how her creativity and confidence will shape the Torch’s digital presence for years to come. This position is essential to shaping  how people consume news today and how the Torch can accommodate the needs of its audience. The push to digital was unexpected, but it was a long time coming and there is unlimited potential for the Torch to be the place the St. John’s community looks to for answers. Shaolin Barid is continuing on as our Business Manager, and for good reason – through her persistence, Shaolin raised upwards of $5,000 in her quest to alleviate the Torch’s five-figure debt. Shaolin has thought of it all – merch, bake sales, movie nights, raffles, you name it. If anyone can bring the Torch back to printing, it’s her. 

We are happy to welcome Francesca Fazio and Mia Flores to our team, as Features Editor and Culture Editor, respectively. They both have pitched their own original ideas and stories that have brought the Torch’s editorial lineup to a new level and we are excited to see how they bring life to their sections this next year. Anna Pierratos will be assistant opinion editor, helping Sara Rodia to helm one of the sections that the Torch sees the most stories in each week. We have seen an influx of unique perspectives represented in the section this year given the presidential election, the pandemic, changes within the University and social justice issues. We are hopeful the section will continue to flourish. 

Half of our editorial board is now made up of rising sophomores, who joined the Torch this year and have never even been inside of our newsroom or met any of their teammates in person yet – that feat is not lost to those of us who joined the Torch in person. We are happy to say that Sara Kiernan is taking on the position of Photo Editor and Alison Goldberg is officially our Social  Media Manager. Liz Kaufmann follows her predecessor’s lead, making history as the second female Sports Editor in the Torch’s history. Chloe Fecci continues on as Design Editor after transforming the Torch’s aesthetics this last year and bringing a creative flair to our social media and weekly front covers. 

Our 99th editorial board is entirely composed of women,  an impressive moment in this newspaper’s nearly-100-year-old history. 

It’s been a tough year all around – the 98th E-Board was elected in what is likely to be known as one of the most uncertain years the Torch has ever experienced, both as a publication and as a team. By the same token, we encourage the 99th E-Board to lean on one another as they continue to maneuver through what remains uncertain times. 

There are legacies to continue, standards to uphold and so many directions that this paper can go in. Remember to trust your gut and keep on, no matter the issues that may arise. The only direction there is to go is forward. Write the crazy stories. Build those relationships. Look at each other not as an organization, but as a network. You all need each other in the way those that have graduated from the Torch need you. Keep each other honest and make each other proud. Give a hand to those who need it and learn that it is okay to take a step back sometimes. Learn that is it okay to ask for help. 

No one who is not in our shoes will ever understand what it has been like – not previous E-Boards, not people who’ve graduated college already, not our parents or younger siblings. But everyone on this 99th E-Board and the ones that come after  you will. We hope that you find comfort in knowing that you are all working toward a common goal together and that is uncompromising, unwavering journalism. There is so much that comes along with this and there is much work to be done, but the foundation is there. 

To the 99th E-Board: You have survived what might have been the hardest year of your lives and if there is one thing you should have learned, it is that the possibilities are endless – and there is no one that can tell these stories how we can.