SRU community,

Nearly two months ago, I wrote another letter to the SRU community about The Rocket’s plans to operate as an online-only news organization during the pandemic. Since March 10, our staff has produced over 75 pieces of content, which the majority of this being related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, we are on the other side of finals week, and many areas of our state, including Butler County, will be moving into the “yellow phase” in the state-wide effort to reopen Pennsylvania. These past two months have been difficult for our community, as we had to adapt to social distancing guidelines with little notice, and SRU professors had only two weeks to convert their classes to an online format. This being said, The Rocket staff is ready to continue our remote coverage as we continue toward a new normal.

While The Rocket does not publish during final exam weeks and breaks, a few staff members have volunteered to continue covering SRU news over the summer break. We will continue to publish breaking news and other featured content as it arises, so make sure to follow our social media accounts (@SRURocket on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) for the latest updates.

In the meantime, here are our plans for the next academic year:

If we return to campus in the fall, we will produce 10 print issues.

Sadly, we suspended our print editions this semester after we moved online, as the majority of our equipment was not accessible after spring break. However, if we return to campus in the fall, here are the tentative print dates and themes:

  • September 11 (Veteran and Military Affairs)
  • October 9 (Homecoming)
  • October 30 (Election)
  • November 13 (Sports and Wellness)
  • December 4 (Mental Health)
  • February 12 (Sex and Love, Gender Identity and Expression)
  • February 26 (Black History Month)
  • March 19 (Women’s History Month)
  • April 9 (Disability Issues)
  • April 30 (Sustainability)

Our tentative plans are to have a specific theme for each issue. Many of these themes overlap with SRU’s President’s Commissions, and we look forward to expanding our coverage of these specific topics in the upcoming year.

We will have some familiar faces on staff, and some in new positions. 

I’m thankful for the opportunity to be editor-in-chief again for one more year before I graduate in spring 2021. Also returning to staff in their positions next year are Hope Hoehler (campus life editor), Karl Ludwig (sports editor), Lesa Bressanelli (copy/web editor), Sam Shiel (asst. copy/web editor), Keegan Beard (photo editor), Hannah Slope (asst. photo editor) and Aaron Marrie (multimedia editor).

Brendan Howe, our current asst. campus life editor, will move into the asst. sports editor role next year. Nina Cipriani will also move from her position as assistant news editor into the news editor role.

We also want to congratulate our graduating staff members on their accomplishments at SRU. Thank you to Allison Downs (news editor), Zachary Bonnette (asst. sports editor), Nicole Tolliver (advertising manager), Emily Heyn (asst. advertising manager) and Haley Potter (senior Rocket contributor) for their commitment to The Rocket, and we wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

We’re excited to welcome four new staff members to The Rocket. 

In the past few weeks, we conducted interviews for open staff positions. We are excited to welcome Joe Wells, Jack Konesky, Elisabeth Hale and Rayni Shirling to our staff in our news, campus life and advertising sections.

We anticipate that we will have openings in our photos, sports, campus life and copy/web sections for the spring 2021 semester. At the end of the fall 2020 semester, we look forward to interviewing more candidates to fulfill these anticipated openings.

We’re ready to continue our regular coverage of news at SRU soon. 

This has been an extremely challenging year for The Rocket staff. However, time and time again our staff has risen to the occasion to bring our community the news of SRU, no matter how difficult or controversial.

This year, we were honored to receive third place in the Associated Collegiate Press’s Best of Show Awards for our Oct. 25 issue. Most recently, we also received the Outstanding Diversity Achievement award as part of the Office of Student Engagement and Leadership’s Rising Awards for our coverage on mental health, race, gender, sexual orientation and disability topics.

While our staff cannot celebrate these achievements in person yet, we are proud of all we accomplished this year, and we look forward to planning for our continued coverage over the summer and this fall to continue advancing forward. Just like Dr. David Keppel said in his message to students, SRU is a resilient community, and The Rocket staff is ready to keep moving forward in our coverage of this community, regardless of our physical location.

But for now, it’s time for all of us in the SRU community to take a well-deserved break.

Stay safe, stay tuned, and we look forward to being back in Slippery Rock soon.

Hannah is a junior secondary English education major and communication minor entering her second year on The Rocket staff and her first year as editor-in-chief. Previously, she served as assistant news editor and covered Student Government Association affairs and local crime. After graduation, she hopes to teach English, communications and journalism to high school students. Outside of The Rocket, Hannah is also part of WSRU-TV, Sigma Tau Delta, and the Honors College and works as an educator in the Transition Achievement Program.

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