Guests now allowed at El Paso County high school graduations

Plus, a new addition to CC’s voluntary furlough program, and a roundup of recent student journalism

Good morning, and happy Friday! 

Today, we talk about a new variance — when a local government diverges from a state order — allowing for in-person high school graduations in El Paso County, updates on Colorado College’s voluntary furlough program, and how student journalists around the country have stepped up during the pandemic.

➡️ICYMI: Yesterday, we released the results of our CC student survey and compared them with similar college surveys.

Hats off: Springs families can now attend high school graduations

Proud Colorado Springs parents no longer have to worry about watching their loved ones receive high school diplomas over a livestream. Starting this week, some family members can attend in-person graduation ceremonies for El Paso County high schools. 

For outdoor ceremonies, “individuals must maintain 6 feet distance between non-household members and work with the appropriate local authority to obtain approval for the maximum number of individuals who may attend in the designated outdoor space,” the variance reads

For District 49 schools, which encompasses a section of eastern Colorado Springs and neighboring areas in El Paso County, Chief Education Officer Peter Hilts announced this week that though a final number has not been approved, he expects graduates to be able to invite at least two guests to the ceremonies for Vista Ridge, Sand Creek, and Falcon High Schools taking place at the end of this month in the UCHealth Stadium, which is also in the eastern part of the Springs. Click here for a full list of in-person graduation ceremonies in El Paso County.

‘Complicated conditions’: Colorado College employees given additional voluntary furlough option

Colorado College employees now have two options to consider under the voluntary furlough program. Last week we reported how CC was offering a 12-month voluntary furlough, but administrators have now updated the policy to include an option for a six-month furlough. The six-month option will also begin Aug. 1, but it will end Jan. 31, 2021. All furlough applications are still due June 30, and notifications for approvals will go out by July 10. 

Meanwhile, CC’s human resources page has been updated to include an FAQ section with additional information about the application process, benefits, and unemployment eligibility. In Colorado, a person who is voluntarily furloughed may not qualify for unemployment benefits, but the college is encouraging anyone who is voluntarily furloughed to apply. 

From the page:

“We realize that new realities and uncertainties generated by COVID-19 and national, state and local responses to the disease may add another layer of complexity to how our community thinks about teaching and working at CC under new and complicated conditions.”

Student journalism highlights: Campuses close for COVID-19, but coverage continues

Student newspapers have all but ceased print production since campuses closed in March. 

That doesn’t mean student journalism has stopped — or even really slowed down. Student journalists are spread out, and often at home, but are still producing content for online publication. In addition to covering the COVID-19 pandemic, student scribes are continuing to report on the issues affecting them, from writing about allegations against tenured professors to attending and covering the ongoing protests. 

There are plenty of student journalists and student publications at work right now, but here are a few of the top stories we’ve seen recently:

  1. Students at the University of Pennsylvania maintain a database of college-operating statuses and update it daily. 

Two staff members at The Daily Pennsylvanian are providing daily updates on fall plans at over 250 colleges and universities in all 50 states. At the top of the page, Jonah Charlton and Pia Singh have a map of the entire country, with dots representing each school and its approximate location. Users can hover over the dots to pull up information about the school. For areas with many schools in close proximity, such as the East Coast and the Midwest, they have smaller maps with greater detail. There are also brief write-ups to provide more information about specific schools in those regions.  

  1. The Crimson, the student newspaper at Harvard University, spent eight months investigating allegations of sexual harassment against three senior professors in the anthropology department. A petition calling for their firings and “transformative change” in two academic departments is currently circulating.

The Crimson published an article by student-journalist James Bikales May 29 titled, “Protected by Decades-Old Power Structures, Three Renowned Harvard Anthropologists Face Allegations of Sexual Harassment: Senior Anthropology professors Theodore C. Bestor, Gary Urton, and John L. Comaroff have weathered allegations of sexual harassment, including some leveled by students. But affiliates said gender issues in the department stretch beyond them.” For the article, The Crimson conducted interviews with 72 people over eight months, as well as obtaining emails, affidavits filed in federal court, and other documents. Two days later, The Crimson reported that the anthropology department chairs had announced their intent to form a committee to “address the department’s ‘long-standing problems.’” The Crimson published an update June 7 that the department had removed one of the professors from his position as Director of Undergraduate Studies.

  1. The State Press, the student newspaper at Arizona State University, published an article about allegations of racism and homophobia against an incoming dean. Within days, administrators announced they are searching for a new dean to fill the position.

Arizona State University had hired Sonya Forte Duhé to be the new dean at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and CEO of Arizona PBS, and Duhé was slated to begin on July 1. On June 5, The State Press published an article by student-journalists Wyatt Myskow and Piper Hansen headlined: “Incoming Cronkite dean has alleged history of racist, homophobic comments toward students. More than 20 of Sonya Forte Duhé’s current and former students came forward with allegations during a State Press investigation into the claims.” In reaction to the allegations detailed in the article, four multicultural student organizations at ASU circulated a petition calling for her removal, which received over 4,000 signatures. Two days later, The State Press tweeted that Duhé would no longer take the position, and an interim dean would step in while they search for a replacement.

  1. Student journalists in Minnesota are covering protests from the front lines.

Protests against police brutality and systemic racism against Black Americans began in Minneapolis after George Floyd was killed by police. Students at several area schools have been attending the protests to photograph and write about the events, despite school being over for the semester and some of their student publications' not being used to publishing in the summer. “I’ve never been in this situation before. You don’t learn how to cover this in [journalism] school,” Yves De Jesus, the data reporter at The Minnesota Daily, told Minnesota Monthly. Another Minnesota Daily staffer told Minnesota Monthly he now takes a gas mask, a neon vest, a rock-climbing helmet, and a plastic shield with him when he goes to cover protests. Both student and professional journalists have had to decide if they will publish photographs that could be used to identify individual protesters. The Mac Weekly, the student newspaper at Macalester College, told Minnesota Monthly they “made the choice to blur or omit photos that could identify protesters, even if that meant removing a photo because it featured a person’s tattoo.” 

  1. A college freshman wrote an essay about a man cleaning blood off the street after a protest for a local outlet. Now, it’s getting national attention.

Indiana University student Mary Claire Molloy captured readers across the country with this lede in an article about local protests for The Bloomingtonian: “INDIANAPOLIS — He knelt in the back alley, one hand steadying, the other scrubbing. As he worked, the bristles of the plastic brush turned red. Blood washed down Vermont Street, mingling with a puddle by the yellow curb. The stain left in the alley was the most stubborn.” After, Poynter’s Roy Peter Clark published an article in reaction: “This is the story we need right now. And it’s written by a college freshman.” “I could teach a semester course on this story,” Clark writes.

About the CC COVID-19 Reporting Project

The CC COVID-19 Reporting Project is a student-faculty collaboration by Colorado College student journalists Miriam Brown and Arielle Gordon, Visiting Assistant Professor of Journalism Corey Hutchins, Assistant Professor of English Najnin Islam, and Journalism Institute Director Steven Hayward. Work by Phoebe Lostroh, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology at CC and National Science Foundation Program Director in Genetic Mechanisms, Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, will appear from time to time, as will infographics by Colorado College students Rana Abdu, Aleesa Chua, Sara Dixon, Jia Mei, and Lindsey Smith.

The project seeks to provide frequent updates about CC and other higher education institutions during the pandemic by providing original reporting, analysis, interviews with campus leaders, and context about what state and national headlines mean for the CC community. 

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