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Editors’ Note: 2020 in review

A year of loss that challenged everyone around the globe made no exception for the Brown community and The Herald’s own newsroom.

In 2020, the nation faced a (still) raging pandemic and an economic recession, a racial reckoning that spurred the greatest civil rights movement in decades, hurricanes and wildfires and a turbulent political climate and election season. Our campus shuttered in March, and most of our students have been Zooming into classes ever since. Amidst all of this, The Herald moved out of our office of 50 years and, to keep our staff safe, made the difficult decision to print our paper only once a week — dropping from daily print publication for the first time since World War II.

But 2020 also brought with it inspiring moments. We saw the University community come together to form friendships virtually and through memes, to demand an end to systemic racism and injustice, to exercise our civic powers and to find some way to make it through the year together.

After the class of 2020 bid farewell to an emptied College Hill and saw their Commencement move online, this past fall semester was the first without any first-years on campus. Students logged into classes from childhood bedrooms across the globe, single dorm rooms on campus and apartments around Providence. 

On Thayer Street, while the pandemic forced some shops to close their doors, including the longstanding Pie in the Sky, other retailers such as Warby Parker and Ten One Tea House opened for business. 

The lights went out in numerous campus laboratories in March, before more labs reopened with additional precautions on top of the usual gloves and safety protocols. Still, many University and Rhode Island researchers remained hard at work, attempting to tackle COVID-19 by developing treatments and learning more about the virus, all while serving as public health leaders and lending their expertise to the public.

The pandemic, which laid bare societal fault lines, didn’t stop student activists from continuing to make their voices heard on issues from equity in grading policies and accessibility in remote learning, to policing and colonialism on campus, the movement for Black lives and sexual violence at Brown.

During a historic election season, students phone banked, took to the campaign trail and organized to get out the vote. While anxiously waiting for the results, students and faculty reflected on the significance and stakes of the election.

And while Bruno’s fall and winter seasons were canceled, five teams were restored to varsity status following a flurry of lawsuits, backlash and student mobilization that followed the Excellence in Brown Athletics Initiative, which initially cut 11 teams in the spring.

Brown alums also made history, including Janet Yellen ’67, President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for Treasury Secretary and potentially the first woman to hold the position. Andrew Yang ’96 returned to campus via Zoom to reflect on his presidential bid, and in local politics, David Morales MPA’19 became the youngest Latino state legislator in the country when he was elected in November to represent District 7.

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir ’99 returned to Earth this year from the first all-female space walk, as “Untitled (Lamp/Bear),” the beloved sculpture known more commonly as “Blueno,” graduated from Brown after more than four years on display in Ruth J. Simmons Quadrangle. 

As 2020 finally comes to a close, and we look forward to what will surely be another momentous year, we want to thank you, our readers, from the bottom of our hearts. Thank you for engaging with The Herald this tumultuous year, and we hope you stick with us into 2021. 

Here are some of our most-read stories from 2020:

  1. ‘Definitely not what you expected from movies’: Celebrating 21st birthdays in quarantine

  2. Professor served cease and desist after publishing journal article

  3. Brown professor says he requested coronavirus test after trip to Europe

  4. Brown admits 6.9 percent of applicants amid COVID-19 crisis

  5. Member of Brown community tests positive for COVID-19

  6. Brown University Band will not perform at women’s basketball games in protest of Head Coach

  7. Brown assistant professor co-leads ongoing investigation on link between hair-loss causing hormones, COVID-19

  8. ‘This is going to end’: Anthony Fauci joins Ashish Jha to address COVID-19 pandemic in live-streamed Brown event

  9. Brown to prepare both on-, off-campus fall semester plans

  10. No spring break, shorter terms: Brown outlines potential three semester plan

Happy New Year!

Editors’ Notes are written by The Herald’s 131st editorial board: Kayla Guo ’22, Henry Dawson ’22, Li Goldstein ’22, Emilija Sagaityte ’22, Kate Ok ’22, Emily Teng ’22 and Kamran King ’22

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