My name is Kiara Santos (pronounced Key-air-uh), Editor-In-Chief of The Triangle. I have held this position for six months. In these six months, I have spent time juggling a full-time job, running this newspaper, maintaining my own social life and progressing my career as a journalist. I started at The Triangle as a freshman in 2018. I was insecure, clueless and had no technical skills in writing, reporting or photography. I only had my abstract wishes of being an accomplished journalist and a childhood dream of becoming a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist.
It was only a few weeks after I joined the newspaper that we declared bankruptcy. The Editor-In-Chief at the time, Mike Avena, spearheaded a movement that garnered thousands of dollars in Triangle Alum donations and created a “Save the Triangle’’ campaign. It was very nascent in my journey that it was instilled into me that student journalism matters—local journalism matters. What we did was part of a larger news ecosystem that impacted the community we engaged with in a small radius. It marked the beginning of an ambitious and intricate plan for me to one day be Editor-In-Chief too.
However, my climb up the ladder was filled with hurdles. I applied for News editor and was rejected. I applied for the Ed board and was rejected as well. I didn’t know what I lacked, but I continued to hold on to the dream that I would be the leader of this newspaper.
Then the pandemic happened and most of us were displaced from our college dorms and apartments, separated from family and friends, and lost our loved ones. The Triangle, like most organizations, were hit hard. The membership dwindled, the communication to staff became slim to none and the first general body meeting since March 2020 did not happen until November 2021.
Fast forward to April 2022, I was offered the position of Editor-In-Chief. I was in my junior year and at that point only one of three remaining staff members from pre-Bankruptcy. I was a vet who had seen the last bit of the “golden years” of The Triangle. I happily accepted and thus made me the first Black woman and first Latina in the Triangle’s nearly 100-years of existence to be Editor-in-Chief.
These last six months have been tumultuous for me. The editorial board has been cut more than half from what it was two years ago, and membership recruitment was downright difficult to do over the summer coupled with Drexel University’s unique quarter system; a mixed group of undergraduate students away for their only summer break, co-op schedules and night classes. I became more than just what my role required. I was every role at once.
Yet I persevered. I took this role with little to no training. The editorial staff including me is self-taught. There was no booklet, no training sessions or guide. A former EIC had told me “To dispose of the tradition.” That the traditions of the last nine decades were near oppressive to the former staff members. What once was a culture of trauma-bonding and producing was upheld in part of a deep-seated anxiety of breaking a chain that was older than the college staff members themselves. How could you refuse what generations have endured?
Yet with a bankruptcy and a global pandemic, everything was gutted. Our offices were moved, and it took all institutional knowledge with it. The newsrooms squandered in dust for over a year.
What you are reading here is the work of a small but mighty dedicated team of writers. This newsroom is unlike many other legacy newsrooms or student newsrooms. We are independent—we receive no funding from Drexel University. The money we receive is strictly donations or advertisement revenue. The labor put into this is voluntary. We have done this since our founding in 1926.
I am honored to lead this first edition in print after a long hiatus away from our abandoned newsstands, our distribution mornings, and the adrenaline rushes on typical Thursday nights of putting a newspaper together. To simply say that I am proud of my team’s work is an understatement of what I have felt about their dedication and work for the duration I have known them.I thank them for their menial efforts as well as their simple presence in the office. I thank those who have taken the time to read the content we have worked so hard to put together. I thank them for the jokes shared and the sacrifices made.
The Triangle is an institute that stands as a cultural affirmation of the university campus. We exist to show the student body, administrators, and everyone in between that despite many challenges we face, we write and produce not because we have to–not because we necessarily believe in up-holding tradition. We write because we believe in the mission of an outlet for the people and by the people. If you are around Drexel for a while, you see it will let anything that is not self-serving die. Our collective staunchness will keep the paper alive.
My stewardship of the newspaper coupled with my own identity has put me in the position to be more representative of the diverse city and ethnic diversity of the campus. I believe in shining a light to students who have felt neglected from Drexel and I utmost believe in the power of planting a seed.
I hope to see The Triangle exist for 100 years, 150 years, and 200 years. I refuse to let it die. To be the first Black woman with Domincan descent breaks a toxic chain that I personally still struggle to credit and affirm myself with. But I am getting better.
The Triangle and I thank you for reading our work, engaging with our work, and taking this paper into your hands.