We should reach out to the community beyond our borders

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After a weekend beach trip, a Thursday night of bar hopping or even a midnight walk down to Donut Friend, it can be easy to forget that for most of us, Northeast Los Angeles is only a temporary home. Off-campus routines — even those as mundane as buying deodorant from CVS — become taken for granted. Seldom do we think of ourselves as the part-time residents that we are compared to the millions that call this city their permanent home. Pair that obliviousness with the infamous “Oxy Bubble” and it becomes even more apparent that we, as Occidental College students, should take a moment to reflect upon our position within the neighboring community, especially as a newspaper. Where do we stand? What is our role? Do we as a newspaper need to extend into the world outside of 1600 Campus Road?

As one of the only news publications in the area, it is our unspoken duty to cover local events, businesses, community members and news. One of the only other news sources that specifically covers Northeast Los Angeles is The Eastsider, a publication run almost entirely by Jesus Sanchez, that covers events in surrounding neighborhoods. During our staff training this summer, Sanchez led a workshop on community coverage and was open to future collaboration between The Eastsider and The Weekly.

The symbiotic relationship between the school and greater community is beneficial to all of us. On the one hand, we as students become aware of goings-on around town and get to feel more immersed in our temporary home. This allows us to pull back the lens, burst out of the bubble of privilege and start to understand how complex our corner of the world is. Awareness of the outside world can present us with new opportunities, connect us with new people and let us make critical decisions about our roles here. When The Weekly published an opinions piece on how the popular Berry Bowl products featured in the Marketplace contributed to the gentrification of Highland Park, students were able to take action and boycott their business. Similarly, Occidental hosted a symposium for non-profits and West Coast colleges alike to discuss immigration issues beyond our community last spring. We recognize that the relationship does not stop here, however, and that we must constantly work to build upon and maintain our dialogue and trust with our local community.

The community, on the other hand, also benefits from having local news publications, such as The Weekly and The Eastsider. Business owners, artists and community leaders can expand their audience and shed light on important issues, not only to us as an academic institution, but to all that The Weekly reaches. Our coverage of The York sexual assault allegations offered key insights into a controversy surrounding the well-known bar. The feature on “lady bosses” highlighted the perhaps overlooked cohort of women and femmes who are helping to lead the Eagle Rock community. Every community needs a platform and outlet, and The Weekly aims to provide ours a voice.

Our publication is not only a critical news source for an otherwise undercovered yet deserving area of L.A., but is also an example of how college and community can work together for the betterment of our shared home.