“It is a good omen that the first issue of the ‘Pioneer’ can go on record as reporting a victory for our basket ball team in its game last Saturday evening.”1
Although I picked up the title of Editor-In-Chief a little under a year ago, my first editorial comes today, a little over a century after the initial issue of the Cooper Union Pioneer released on January 28, 1921. Over my time at Cooper, I have learned that competent leadership requires careful consideration of the past while maintaining an eye to the present, the near future, and the far future. So first: the past.
This new iteration of the Pioneer came after a short hiatus beginning in the fall semester of 2018 and ending with the publication of the Collective Student Letter on Fostering an Actively Anti-Racist Institution. What followed (Pioneer-wise) was a fairly consistent monthly release cycle until the October issue in which we once again took a hiatus until today. Our content was less expository, but rather focused on more individually human insights from different Cooper students on their personal worlds and their work. This recent past showed the importance of digital marketing with the loss of the traditional, physical newsstand, and the necessity of finding new methods of engagement as we work to rebuild our readership. Furthermore, the lockdown further exposed a major operational issue that all Cooper clubs have faced in the past and will continue to face: over-work. Anecdotally, Cooper students and alumni have bonded immensely over mutual gripes with administration, with the faculty, with the ever present and dominating workload. Some dismiss heavy workloads as rigor that left them over prepared for the industry, while others look back at the educational experience at Cooper with disdain, only fondly remembering the people they met. Nobody comes to Cooper to fly through for an easy A, but does a 7 AM to 2 AM day yield better results? Zoom fatigue further exacerbated this issue by creating an almost constant engagement with screens with little time for recovery as classes ran over time and meetings piled up. Such fatigue worked against clubs as many students preferred to relax and recuperate rather than sit in the same chair and stare at the same screen for yet another hour. Over-work has always reduced the allure of community bonding and engagement, but this virtual medium left clubs scrambling to rebuild their internal leadership and prepare for the future. As we look back and analyze the issues that faced us, hopefully the Pioneer can serve as one of the platforms for long-form public discourse and experimentation.
Looking back to 1921, the Cooper students of the past felt the same way. They yeaned to “dispel the fog of understanding”, for the Pioneer’s “words [to] be a happiness to those who strive for the good and welfare of the school”, to “smite, as with fire and sword, the foes of its progress”. Despite the melodrama, this mission rings true for my second and final semester at the helm of the paper. This semester will focus on creating spaces for cooperation and collaboration, for voices to be heard outside of the confines of Zoom and Teams, for the benefit of the greatest stakeholders of Cooper: its students.
I hope I can bring y’all a semester full of good content,