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pres-letter
Credit: Brandon Li

The country is mourning right now. The unjust murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and countless others at the hands of the police are part of a long history of systemic racism in the United States. This is an urgent moment in American history. As journalists, we at The Daily Pennsylvanian are aware of the tremendous responsibility we have to cover this time in human history responsibly and ethically. We stand in solidarity with Black students, staff, and faculty at Penn. Black Lives Matter. 

But we are also taking this moment to acknowledge and reflect on our own shortcomings as an organization. Our legacy as a media organization falls short in many ways. For too long, the DP has failed to lift up the voices of Black students, and make sure their unique experiences and perspectives are heard and valued. We have also failed to make sure our staff represents the diversity of the student body at Penn. With such a large platform on campus, we must do better. 

We are working to hold regular diversity training with our alumni on how to report responsibly on protests and the Black Lives Matter movement. We are also in the process of updating our style guide to be as inclusive as possible. We are committed to actively soliciting the voices of students from different backgrounds, and creating a more welcoming environment at our media organization. These actions alone are not enough, but they are small steps to creating a better, more inclusive DP.

There are still unanswered questions by the Penn administration that we are constantly seeking answers to. What is the nature of the University’s relationship with the Penn Police Department? What is Penn doing to promote faculty diversity in hiring? And many more. Now, more than ever, we are committed to delivering outstanding journalism to our audience.

We have restructured how we approach summer coverage to accommodate these uncertain times, and will be publishing more content than ever across our three publications — the DP, 34th Street Magazine, and Under the Button. We will continue to break news, investigate unanswered questions, represent the voices of the Penn community, present compelling visuals, and tell the story of our University as it navigates this difficult moment. But as we hold true to our mission as a student publication, we are also committing to fight against the mainstream tropes about Black communities and other communities of color popularized by the media. We aim to tell the truth, and right now the truth is that people of color in our country are in danger.  

At such a challenging time, the news can be overwhelming. But when you want to dig into what is happening within the Penn community, what decisions administrators are making, and what life is like right now for students of all different backgrounds, we are here to keep you informed, even if, for now, we are all behind our screens. 

This has been a humbling moment for the DP. It has also offered us the opportunity to reaffirm our values as we strive to be an indispensable news organization. I urge you to engage with us this summer. Challenge us. Read with a critical eye. Submit a guest column or a letter to the editor. We want you to read our content, and we want to hear your voices. Uncertain times demand exceptional journalism. We remain imperfect, but are committed to asking the right questions while listening closely to the answers.

ISABELLA SIMONETTI is a rising College senior from New York, N.Y. studying English. Her email address is simonetti@thedp.com. She is the president of the 136th Board of The Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc.

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