“The Lumberjack: Northern Arizona University’s student voice since 1914.” If you frequent our website, maybe you’ve noticed this phrase placed just beneath our masthead.
Over the decades, the phrase has come to represent a wide range of meaning. In just the last academic year, The Lumberjack reported on a controversial travel audit of the Office of the President, the selection of four new deans, campus forums, ABOR meetings, student protests, the state of student media and a coalition calling for President Cheng to resign.
… Then the world flipped on its head with the arrival of COVID-19, and the dealings of higher education seemed as distant as ever.
Here at The Lumberjack we have become accustomed to reporting on the growth of the university — the arrival of new student housing complexes, disputes about campus parking and construction on multimillion-dollar science buildings — but now, our focus must shift to downsizing. Losses related to the pandemic are estimated between $30 million to $100 million.
NAU has made clear their intention to have students return to in-person classes in the fall. In order to bring students back, dramatic changes will need to be made to ensure both safety and financial stability, an arduous task. Almost certainly, the college experience will not look the same for the foreseeable future. Already, it has been announced that faculty and administration will experience pay cuts, furloughs and salary reductions.
It is clear that if — and when — students return it will be the first step on a long road to recovery.
Will students opt to return in the fall?
How will job losses affect the Flagstaff economy?
What changes will be made to class sizes, student housing and extracurricular activities?
Are international exchange programs a possibility?
Can I still watch Women’s Basketball in the Skydome?
We have a lot of questions, and likely, so do you. This statement will serve as the first installment of The Lumberjack’s investigative series, “NAU: the new normal,” where our staff will look to answer tough questions related to the future of the university. The Lumberjack has always prided itself on serving as the student voice, and now, this role is more important than ever.
—The Lumberjack summer staff