We found ourselves and our developing journal at a moment that could be the defining moment of a generation. We stand at an intersection between a pandemic and a demand to end systemic racism, both of which cannot be ignored any longer.
When we first settled on the theme "Unspoken" for our third issue, we never could have anticipated the way it would evolve in the ensuing seven months. As soon as it all happened, though, we knew that the stories presented in this issue would be critically important to the student body as well as our wider audience. We were determined to do the best job we could curating them.
In this year's issue of Vanderbilt Lives, we feature the unspoken struggles of Vanderbilt students. These are stories of regret and unvoiced frustration, but they are also stories of hope, determination, and healing. The essays in this issue explore strained relationships with family and with the self. They deal with change. They are methodical, passionate, collected, raw.
We also feature stories of life under COVID-19. International students face a daunting journey home. Asian students grapple with the racialization of the virus. New students leave behind what was supposed to be the most formative first year of their undergraduate careers. So many writers from different backgrounds have contributed their voices to this project.
As we speed-walk between Stevenson 4 and Wilson Hall five days a week, we sometimes forget just how much we don't know about each other. We forget to look up from our books and ask the janitor how they're doing, to learn the names of the Rand dining staff, or to understand why that sophomore in Row J always arrives ten minutes late to lecture. Sometimes we forget to understand ourselves. We hope that, by amplifying these stories, we not only facilitate understanding but also inspire action.
In these first weeks of June, this issue of Vanderbilt Lives has evolved into a call to action. As educated youth, we students have not only the privilege but also the responsibility to take action on the problems we see in our society. We have an obligation to help in any way we can, be it through dialogue, writing, research, or any of the unlimited options our college education has given us. Although we have built our third issue on a backdrop of silence, it stands for action. We are all frustrated with the lack of action our leaders have taken. We are all frustrated with the way they have circled around the problem, around the loss of Black lives to a flawed system that must be reimagined and rebuilt. Silence is no longer an option. It never was.
We hope that this is the last issue in which we must battle that silence.
Alex Camai, Editor-in-Chief
Asia Grant, Editor
Neelansh Bute, Editor
Melanie Lu, Editor
Lindsay Quackenbush, Editor