Letter From The Editor

Dear Reader,

Last month, I cried in Cohen Auditorium two nights in a row. The first was at a talk by Ocean Vuong, the brilliant, queer, Vietnamese author of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. The second was at “Drag Me to Tufts,” the beautiful, joyful drag show celebrating Trans Day of Visibility. 

I cried at these events not because I was sad, but because I felt joyful, thankful, and overwhelmed to be queer and Asian in a space where those identities were celebrated. I am grateful to have encountered many of these spaces at Tufts, the most important of which to me is the Observer. This magazine is created with love by and for students of color, queer students, first generation and low income students, students with disabilities—really, anyone who finds themselves at the margins of our campus. The stories, narratives, and poems that Observer staff and contributors publish are often personal, intimate, and deeply vulnerable. In this issue alone, multiple pieces have moved me to tears.

As journalists, we often face pressure to minimize our identities in favor of a farce of neutrality, hoping to be seen as impartial observers, historians of culture but never participants. This, of course, is silly. The Observer has never merely observed; in every story, we are caught up in the narrative, stuck between the pages like chewing gum, our existences too intertwined to be ripped apart. The record we keep—of injustice, community, resilience, strength—is a record of our lives. Maybe it’s a record of yours, too.

Throughout the past four years, I’ve written articles about students dealing with lack of access to food, the Tufts janitors’ fight for a fair contract, and the university’s refusal to divest from private prisons. I’ve edited stories about the movement for ethnic studies at Tufts, the persistent police presence on campus despite student concerns, and the institutional lack of support for DEI. Notice two throughlines here: a university that consistently prioritizes profit over student well-being, and students who refuse to back down.

In the coming years, I hope the Observer continues to speak truth to power, even when administrators would prefer us to be quiet. I hope that we continue to be an outlet where students share their stories, and that they feel proud and empowered when they see their words in print. I want to be very clear about the mission of this publication and what we seek to do: hold institutions accountable and uplift marginalized voices. These two goals are not separate, but deeply, inextricably intertwined.

Thank you, endlessly, to Melanie, Juanita, Angela, Anna, every current and former Observer staff member, my mother, my sister, and the rest of my family, my friends, and our readers. As I leave Tufts, I am grateful to know that even if I did everything else wrong, with the Observer, I did something right.

In solidarity,

Amanda Westlake