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Sunday, September 19, 2021

2020: A year in review

The Editorial Board reflects on some of this year’s greatest challenges and sources of hope

From adjusting to working from home to inspiring societal change through social justice movements to incredible advancements in science, we reflect on some of the most significant aspects of this year below.

Online learning has been an adjustment for students, instructors and those helping both groups. Although some instructors have evidently made courses harder or less fair, we want to acknowledge all the instructors who have gone above and beyond to be there for their students. 

To the professors who have repeatedly asked how their students are doing during class and individually during office hours, enacted grace periods for assignments and exams, taken a moment to clap and cheer for seniors during the last class of the year: Thank you—you are the reason so many students chose UC Davis and why many are so proud to be Aggies. 

It can sometimes be difficult to feel support at such a large research university, but we are reminded of this support when our professors show us the compassion to check in on how we’re doing and leniency—in terms of time not quality of work—during times of unprecedented stress and heightened anxiety. We are incredibly inspired by our instructors who have managed to both be leaders in their fields and show genuine care towards their students.

Not only have our instructors continued to demonstrate profound leadership in and outside of the classroom, but also UC Davis students have stepped up to push for change. This week, Panhellenic has decided to disaffiliate from all fraternities at UC Davis and will reconsider reaffiliation on a chapter-by-chapter basis depending on whether they meet criteria for implementing sexual assault prevention methods. 

We are incredibly encouraged by the leadership displayed by members of the Panhellenic community in taking this matter into their own hands; however, we do not believe it is exclusively students’ responsibility to come up with ways to prevent sexual assault with proactive methods. College students pay thousands of dollars to the university expecting to be kept safe. We hope the administration will follow Panhellenic’s lead and do its job of holding on-campus organizations accountable.

We at The California Aggie ourselves have pushed for change within our own organization and have much to show for it. We completely reformed our editor-in-chief hiring process so the leader of our organization is chosen by members of The Aggie, with the feedback of staffers, The Aggie’s alumni and journalism professors taken into consideration. Previously, hiring for the editor-in-chief position was done by an auxiliary media board with no representation from The Aggie that could actively vote in favor of a candidate. 

We compiled extensive research and sought advice from other campus publications and  adopted a comprehensive hiring process, ensuring our status as an independent news organization. UC Davis Aggies—both students and instructors—are leaders at heart, and we are proud to be part of a community that works to create compassionate and kind future leaders.

This year has shown us the power of science; from epidemiology to immunology, virology to pulmonology, 2020 has revealed how closely scientific advancements can impact our everyday lives, especially in times of crises. 

We would like to acknowledge the bravery and dedication of healthcare professionals and researchers, among others, who have undergone immense physical and emotional distress to serve our communities during this year. Just mere days away from seeing a vaccine arrive in California, it feels as if we can finally imagine a life post-pandemic, for which we have them to thank.

Even as we face an ever-escalating climate crisis, with devastating forest fires impacting many of us in California, our communities have proved resilient. Though we have responded to these natural disasters by coming together, our climate issues will not be resolved until the global community unites to proactively prevent future crises by holding corporations accountable and adhering to emissions standards. However, the widespread environmental activism seen in the past few years—like the record-breaking Global Climate Strike of 2019—is proof that climate change is a rising issue in the eyes of the general public. 

With only 40 days away from having a U.S. president who believes in climate change and protecting the environment, 2021 is already looking more promising. President-elect Joe Biden plans to enter the U.S. back into the Paris Agreement and has goals for America to reach “net-zero emissions no later than 2050.” By continuing to speak up and make our voices heard, we can hold this new administration accountable, ensuring the protection of the environment for future generations to come. 

The 2020 Election resulted in a decisive victory for Biden, who will become the 46th president of the U.S. on Jan. 20. Voters cast a record-breaking 158 million votes with a participation rate of 66.5%—the highest rate in more than a century and all in the midst of a pandemic. Backed by a 10% increase in youth voter turnout, Democrats have now won the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections and President Donald Trump is the first incumbent to lose reelection in almost 30 years. The Editorial Board will not miss Trump’s gross mishandling of our country and of the COVID-19 pandemic—we hope the new administration will do better.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be the first woman to hold the position of vice president as she adds another achievement to a career already filled with broken ceilings. We hope that President-elect Biden holds his promise to appoint “the most diverse Cabinet in history,” as we understand the value of diversity in the workplace and its importance as a reflection of our country. We additionally hope that this Cabinet commits to promoting progressive policies that foster equity. 

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement became one of the largest movements in U.S. history this year as the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others sparked overwhelmingly peaceful protests across the country. The magnitude of these protests led to displays of solidarity from the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers to Merriam-Webster. This year alone, the BLM movement successfully put pressure on city officials to ban chokeholds in countless cities, cut ties with police in major school districts and get medical groups like the American Medical Association to declare racism a public health crisis. To see many young activists fight to eradicate systemic racism, police brutality and white supremacy in Davis and beyond provides hope for a more equitable future.

Despite the challenges we’ve faced in 2020, there is much to be proud of as we reflect on the accomplishments of a tumultuous year. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but if we remain patient, listen to science and continue to use our voices for change, we can create a healthier and safer future for all of us. 

Written by: The Editorial Board

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