Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Farewell to the CW Opinions page

Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.” – Justice Hugo Black

The last thing I ever expected to be involved with in college was The Crimson White. The last thing I ever wanted to be in life was a journalist.

Why report news when you can make news? Why enter an industry in the midst of great transformation and instability when the economy is already struggling?

Freshman year, replete with all the wisdom and energy of a first year college student, I wouldn’t have been able to answer those questions.

I wouldn’t have been able to answer them the day I walked into The Crimson White newsroom and dropped off a collection of columns I wrote for my hometown newspaper, The Atmore Advance. I was just trying to become a columnist in order to get involved and find my place on our sprawling campus.

I wouldn’t have been able to answer them the day I was standing on the sidewalk in downtown Tuscaloosa and received a phone call informing me that I had been chosen as the new opinions editor of The Crimson White. My predecessor had resigned before ever officially taking office, and I was just falling in to take his place.

I probably couldn’t have answered those questions until last April, when a tornado struck Tuscaloosa, and I saw colleagues work around the clock to provide the public with information. Information that allowed people to make decisions about the way they were going to respond to the tragedy, from where to pick up and drop off supplies to how to locate relatives and friends.

The tornado changed my perspective and my role in student media. At that time, our student body was not in need of my opinion. Students needed to know why they couldn’t get back to their homes in the Retreat, when the power was coming back on, and where they could find shelter. As a member of The Crimson White staff, I had to find ways to be helpful and provide students with answers to those questions.

And that is what I have tried to do since; provide students with answers about how institutions on our campus operate, what motivates those operations and how those issues impact this university.

The goal of these stories is not to expose wrongdoing or target people; the goal is to give the student body the information it needs to make decisions about the way our campus will grow and thrive. Some of that information has exposed issues that caused concern, but the fact that those issues are now public knowledge has allowed students to demand accountability from those they trust with their money and their votes.

As Justice Black wrote, this is a function that only a free and unrestrained press can perform. However, while the press can reveal information, we can do nothing to act on it. That falls to you.

In some ways, The Crimson White is an ongoing narrative of our campus and the events that take place here. But the stories told on these pages aren’t just for your enjoyment. They are a part of your education, and hopefully they will occasionally perk your interest or motivate you to action on a particular issue.

That is how society moves forward. That is why an informed, educated public is so important. That is why journalism is important. And that is why I am stepping down from my position as opinions editor of The Crimson White.

It may seem ironic that I am leaving the section of The Crimson White that originally got me involved with this publication. However, remaining in my current capacity would only distract me from areas where I can better serve our readers, while confining the opinions page to a leader who is incapable of continuing to serve effectively.

Know this – I love the columns on page four more than anything else in this paper. And this semester’s opinions page has been the best I have seen since I stepped foot on campus two years ago. The columnists and contributors who have invested their time in being a part of this section have done a remarkable job.

But this page functions best when the rest of the newspaper is filled with thorough and detailed stories that provoke us to think critically about our circumstances and the circumstances around us. So, for the rest of this year, I am going to focus on those stories. Hopefully, they will address issues that you care about, and perhaps cause you to think about something differently or approach a situation with a new light.

I could not be more proud to be a part of this year’s Crimson White staff. I could not be more excited about continuing on in a new capacity. And I could not be more thankful for the support and feedback that you, our readers, have given me since I became opinions editor a year and a half ago.


Tray Smith is the opinions editor of The Crimson White.


Editor’s Note: Applications for opinions editor will be welcome from today until Sunday, Nov. 27. You do not have to be a member of the current opinions staff to apply.

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