2022-2023 in review
April 27, 2023
Read the Old Gold & Black section editor’s summation of the 2022-2023 school year.
The 2022-23 academic year presented students with a different set of challenges from previous years. For most students, the past year has offered what might be described as a “return to normalcy” as the COVID-19 pandemic crept deeper into the backs of our minds, and campus sprung back to life. For us, this was an exciting time to cover events that may not have happened or been fully realized in the past three years — and to reflect on how some things have forever changed in COVID’s wake.
During the fall semester, the news section was spearheaded by co-editors Emily Toro and Christa Dutton (now editor-in-chief). Under their leadership, News covered the fight for contract workers’ wages, the university’s use of social media monitoring and the effects of rising inflation. In November, now-Print Managing Editor Breanna Laws and an anonymous contributor wrote “My family would be in danger” — reporting on the risks many international students faced when they hung posters of protest in campus buildings. Then, when the results of the Campus Climate Survey were released later that month, a devoted team of reporters analyzed, contextualized and reported on the data to make it more accessible to students.
In the spring, News covered the university’s first ConsentCon, the inner workings of on-campus housing costs and the debate over new questions raised by ChatGPT. In February, staff writer Eli Leadham reported on how Asian students grappled with gun violence during a time of celebration. News also covered many of the cultural celebrations that highlight the diversity of our campus, from Black History Month to Holi. In March, News Editor Maddie Stopyra reported on the intersectionality of Women’s History Month celebrations on campus.
News also kept up-to-date with Student Government — covering a variety of new bills and legislation such as the new judicial branch and student organizations branch. Online Managing Editor Aine Pierre covered a February Senate meeting where members of the Student Government voted to pass a resolution calling on the university to hire a Hindu chaplain. After Student Government elections concluded in April, Stopyra wrote “Student Government leaders reflect on their terms” — highlighting the efforts of the Student Government during the 2022-23 academic year.
But these reflections would be incomplete without mention of the gun violence that threatens the physical and mental well-being of students across the country. We are fortunate that we haven’t had to report on lost classmates — but the specter of gun violence has made itself frighteningly clear with the police response to reports of shots fired at Reynolda Hall earlier this month and at Forsyth Tech last month.
We’re proud of and thankful for the diligent reporting of each of our writers — both returning and new — and we look forward to the stories we’ll tell next fall.
Maddie & Daniel
This year marks the second year of the Features section, whose focus is the exceptional students, faculty and alumni of Wake Forest University and their achievements. We strive to cover campus-centric topics, highlighting individuals, organizations and trends at Wake Forest. Our hope is that, in doing this, we can help our readers feel more connected to the school and the people who make it special.
This year, the Features section explored not only prominent people, events and places on campus, but also analyzed the overall atmosphere of campus three years after the COVID-19 pandemic through stories such as “Creativity during COVID-19” and our Deacon Profile on Annie Russell, a student who described her experience with long COVID. The section also continued to highlight the diversity and inclusion efforts on campus, sharing the stories of activists such as Derick Mejia Torres, who advocates for undocumented students, and Professor Margaret Bender, who has contributed her time to creating materials for the Cherokee language immersion school New Kituwah Academy Elementary in North Carolina, as well as the work of Cameron Michles, who has sought to make theater more accessible for neurodivergent audiences. We also featured minority students such as CC Carvajal, who shared what it is like to be a blind student at Wake Forest.
Our section also began to feature more in-depth stories, such as the excellent story by Editor-in-Chief Christa Dutton, who investigated Wake Forest’s Mark H. Reece Collection of Student-Acquired Contemporary Art. Her story traced the origins of the art collection, which began in 1963 and continues to send students to New York City every three years to purchase art for the university. Although this program is the only one of its kind in the United States, it does not typically receive much publicity. Christa asked questions about the art’s home and what the university’s responsibility is to preserve the art once it’s brought to campus and shed new light on the artwork that Wake Forest students see daily in university buildings such as Reynolda Hall.
Another example of an investigative feature was James Li’s article on how ChatGPT may threaten academic status quo. There are many more stories to tell on this campus that require in-depth research, interviews and investigation. In the upcoming semesters, there may also be opportunities to develop more series, such as Online Managing Editor Aine Pierre’s articles focusing on graduates of Wake Forest Law school who now serve as justices for the North Carolina Supreme Court. These series also provide our section with opportunities to explore different aspects of related topics in a way that is accessible to readers.
Over the course of this past academic year, the Features section has expanded the way we cover and present stories. We’ve learned to showcase narratives in order to provide the readers of the Old Gold & Black with insight into the environment in which we live and the community that surrounds us. We look forward to continuing the important work this section represents.
Over the course of the 2022-23 academic year, the Old Gold & Black expanded the paper’s environmental coverage from a beat in the features section, to its own one-page section to a fully-fledged three-page section. In its inaugural year, the Environment section has featured articles on sustainability initiatives both on and off campus, environmental justice issues and various ecological labs on campus.
In Winston-Salem and North Carolina, we highlighted environmental justice initiatives past, present and ongoing. On Feb. 1, we marked the one-year anniversary of the Weaver Fire with a retrospective discussing the university’s response to the fire, Winston-Salem’s community fund set-up for victims and the forthcoming Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist study on its impacts. In March, staff writer Anna Beim recounted the environmental justice movement’s roots in Warren County, N.C..
We featured small businesses and non-profit nature preserves like Earth Sage, Gateway Nature Preserve and Reynolda Gardens which work to provide sustainable outlets for Winston-Salem. The profiles not only increased awareness of and engagement with opportunities outside of campus but provided the organizations an opportunity to be highlighted to the Wake Forest community.
On campus, our writers spent time chronicling Wake Forest’s waste and resource usage. Writers examined the efficacy and journey of composting and recycling systems on campus in articles about North Pit’s Composting Methods, NCA Composting Initiatives, the journey of Wake Forest’s trash and the ecology of trees on campus. We covered these stories to show how Wake Forest is working toward increasing their waste-reduction efforts and how they may change in the future.
With more room for stories, our writers and staff have worked effortlessly to highlight students, staff and alumni who are aiding the environment. We featured Dr. Brian Tague’s mycology lab, Dr. Stephen Smith’s rock tour on campus, a coral reef biology spring break trip and Dr. Lauren Lowman’s engineering lab at Wake Downtown. We featured Wake Forest alumni and students like Meredith Mulhearn (‘01), Peter Schlachte (‘19) and Gretchen Castelloe (‘23), who are using their influence to promote sustainability initiatives in the arts and business. Outside the Forest, we tackled topics like the environmental impact of bitcoin, tropical islands, Peruvian environment and the sustainability of fake snow.
In all of our articles, we’ve worked to show a balance of perspectives on the environment. We chose to feature a variety of topics that not only promote sustainability but show the varied efforts students, faculty and the world are making to improve our planet, environment and future.
We’ve enjoyed seeing our section and writers grow this semester. We’re proud of our stories and journalists who have worked to promote the voices of environmentalists and sustainability initiatives on campus and look forward to covering new stories and sustainability efforts in the fall of 2023.
This year, the Opinion section went through several changes while also introducing fresh perspectives, all while our writers came out with some inspiring articles.
First and foremost, we held Wake Forest students and the administration accountable by doing what our section exists for — giving Wake Forest students a platform to voice their concerns. From campus accessibility to Greek life, we made it clear that there is always work to be done. We also made some direct impacts. Opinion Editor Lauren Carpenter’s article on dealing with the aftermath of sexual assault rang throughout our campus, forcing members of Greek life to actively reevaluate their standards and morals. This article made it on “Best of SNO” and won a national award.
Other on-campus topics that we explored this year include Photography Editor Virginia Noone’s article on the toxicity of “Fizz,” where she wrote about the ethics of the app, its strengths and its weaknesses. Staff Columnist Lourdes Lopez’s article about the importance of sleep for college students is an important call for students to remember that taking care of themselves must come before all other aspects of college life.
Our writers care deeply about the world beyond campus, and the Opinion section also had several articles involving world-wide issues this year. Staff columnist Walker Newman’s article about earthquakes’ impact on refugee communities highlighted the severity of the earthquake in Turkey and its effects on the surrounding community. In contributing columnist Emma Shuford’s take on debatable climate activism, she wrote about positive and negative impacts that the Vincent Van Gough soup incident left in the field of activism.
We are so grateful for our bright writers who continue to inspire us with new ideas, perspectives and incredible writing, and we look forward to the amazing articles to come.
This year has been a tremendous experience for the Old Gold & Black sports section as our writers have been able to cover one of the most successful years in Demon Deacon athletics history.
Extraordinary leadership from Wake Forest Football Head Coach Dave Clawson and quarterback Sam Hartman led the Demon Deacons to a seventh-straight bowl appearance — and second-straight bowl victory. Hartman and star receiver A.T. Perry broke school records in passing yards and receiving touchdowns, respectively.
The men’s basketball program experienced tremendous success throughout the season, with Tyree Appleby producing an AP ACC Player of the Year-worthy statline. Head Coach Steve Forbes clinched back-to-back winning records for Wake Forest for the first time since the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.
The Demon Deacons’ men’s soccer team had a spectacular season. After multiple wins against top-10-ranked outfits like No. 10 Clemson and No. 9 Louisville, Head Coach Bobby Muuss’ program went to their 12th-straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
Meanwhile, on the baseball diamond, the No. 2 Demon Deacons have launched themselves into the spotlight with an extraordinary pitching staff and a loaded lineup of bats. Head Coach Tom Walter’s squad have their eyes on Omaha to capture a possible second NCAA baseball championship.
Not only have we been able to cover historic seasons in the programs across campus, we’ve also been able to show you an inside look at your favorite players throughout campus through our “Deacon Sportlight” series.
From men’s soccer star Leo Guarino to women’s basketball star Jewel Spear, our series has delved into the players themselves, from their favorite moments of their careers thus far to their childhood heroes to opinions on pineapple on pizza.
Writers have also examined aspects of Wake Forest athletics that go deeper than sports. Reflections on seasons impacted by COVID-19 and the state of mental health stigma took the Old Gold & Black behind the scenes of the programs the Demon Deacon faithful love to cheer for. This extended to those that help the school’s sports run smoothly beside athletes, such as baseball’s Analytics Team.
It’s been a tremendous year for Wake Forest sports in general, and our section looks forward to bringing the best coverage of Demon Deacon athletics next year.
This past year, the Life section underwent great change. In the spring, we said goodbye to Life Editor Josie Scratchard, who moved on to greener pastures and became the Old Gold & Black’s Copy Chief. This was when James Watson came aboard. Watson brings a sort of Criterion Channel vibe to the Life section that Marvel fans don’t exactly appreciate. We also added some new staff writers to the fold, such as Prarthna Batra, Tabitha Cahan, Caroline Mederos and Emma Shuford, who contributed some amazing articles and helped the Life section flourish this year.
In other news, the Life section continued its Sisyphean quest to top Emily Bebeneck’s totemic cultural document, “Analyzing the personalities of the Madagascar penguins,” which remains one of the most viewed articles on the Old Gold & Black website. Many tried, many failed but a few brave creatives came inspiringly close.
In her debut article, “Dark side of the boat,” Cahan captured the attention of the Wake Forest music aficionado community and dazzled them with her vast breath of musical knowledge. She then followed this up with a wave-making piece, claiming heretically that Ice Spice is our generation’s Princess Diana. Yikes. Wyla Solsbery contributed a fantastic article on practicing subversive fashion, which felt uniquely relevant to a campus like Wake Forest’s. Cooper Sullivan provided some much-needed laughs with his satirical article, “I’m a WFU student who hates my study abroad.” Finally, Prarthna Batra gave us our first Life Through the Lens of the academic year, as she reflected on the challenges of navigating an American university after growing up in New Delhi. We also had a crossword in a later print edition that everyone loved and definitely wasn’t filler. Staff writer Ally Werstler began writing with us in the fall and quickly became our most reliable film critic (even if she gave “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” and “The Fabelmans” the same score). We can’t wait to see how she tackles the cultural disruption that will be the “Barbie” movie later this summer.
The Life section also struck gold, networking with Matador records and landing an interview with indie rocker Snail Mail and her touring partners, Water From Your Eyes! We’re hoping this is the start of a long series of artist interviews, making the Old Gold & Black Life section a rite of passage for indie music up-and-comers.
The Life section is looking to evolve and grow in the next year. Hopefully emerging from the icy caves of irony and jest and becoming more engaged with Wake Forest’s thriving arts community, seeking out their stories and work. But rest assured, no matter how our little slice of Old Gold & Black heaven changes, one thing will always be for sure: Ice Spice is our generation’s Princess Diana.