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To viewers like you, thank you

| Friday, May 1, 2020

During spring break, everything seemed big and shiny and bright and new. I was a week into being Editor-in-Chief, and nothing had collapsed yet. I was visiting Los Angeles to see where I’d be living and working for the summer. I was going to see a magic show and head back to school to congratulate new members of the Editorial Board and say thank you to those who were moving on.

Needless to say, none of that happened. 

Instead, I flew back home under a cloud of impending doom knowing my younger brother’s university was going remote and the tri-campus would probably follow soon after. Landing in Chicago brought an onslaught of emails and messages announcing Notre Dame’s decision to participate in distance learning. The drive back to Northwest Indiana was full of rapidly messaging friends and colleagues about the Saint Mary’s cancelation. Arriving at my home included the crushing feeling of knowing that everything I thought this spring would be was no longer, knowing the rest of the semester would be spent at home, hoping I wouldn’t lose my mind. 

So far, so good — and I owe it all to the people I’ve met on our three campuses.

Before distance learning was adopted in South Bend, Indiana University Bloomington had already made its call. A Saint Mary’s (and Observer) alumna hit me with the news almost as soon as the decision was made. Though it was never certain Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross would follow in IU’s footsteps, knowing that a major Indiana school was doing something made the future a little more clear for us. Thank you, Jordan, for the heads up that prepared me to expect the same.

Times were uncertain and scary for many reasons. Naturally, I worried about The Observer first and everything else second. How would we convince anyone to take on any type of work for the paper if there wouldn’t even be a real paper and so many other things were happening? How would we make sure our community stays informed even if we are not on the campuses that create it? Classes were kind of canceled, but the news never is. One hectic Google Meeting video call later (before we took Zoom seriously), and The Observer was back on track with the recently instated Editorial Board stepping up to any challenge that presented itself. Thank you, Mariah, Maeve, Claire, Sara, Serena, Mia, Nelisha, Hayden, Ryan, Nola, Diane, Ellie and Zixu, for stepping up, motivating your staff and, in turn, motivating me.

Every EIC experiences some turmoil at some point in their tenure, but all the stories in the world can’t prepare a person for facing what readers may throw at them. One rough week and many group chats and Zoom calls later, life settled back into its new quarantine routine. Thank you, Kelli, Courtney and Ben, for hearing me out, sharing your experiences and giving advice only you are capable of.

After getting used to the idea of social distancing and online learning, I began to mourn the traditions of the spring semester. Goodbye Observer basketball game. Farewell all-staff meeting. Goodnight sweet, sweet Observer prom (not an established tradition, but one I looked forward to starting). Rest well, commencement edition production. Some of these are in the works — cheers, commencement edition! Others are not so lucky — basketball game, I’m so sorry sweetie. Luckily, through sheer determination and a surprising amount of interest, the all-staff meeting and Observer prom were able to be rolled into one large Zoom call. Thank you, everyone who showed up and endured the many random breakout rooms, for making my inner-Marmee March pop and bringing a little piece of the South Dining Hall basement to life on my screen. Extra thanks to those of you who dressed for the theme — it won’t be optional when it happens next spring!

But nothing brings South Bend home quite like reading stories about the people who make our coverage possible. To all the students, faculty and staff from the tri-campus community, thank you. Thanks for your generosity of sharing your thoughts through our reporters or writing Letters to the Editor. Thanks for reading our content, visiting our site and finding value in the work we do.

The Observer would be nothing without you. Thank you.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Maria Leontaras

Maria Leontaras is a senior at Saint Mary's pursuing a student-designed major in Interactive Journalism with minors in mathematics and Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. Maria used to serve as the Editor-in-Chief of The Observer when she wasn't busy tweeting about movies and One Direction.

Contact Maria