If you take a tourist to a Florida beach, you may warn them of sandspurs, the small inconspicuous plants producing irritating burrs that latch onto skin or fur. Stubborn and reluctant, they cannot be removed without being addressed carefully and thoughtfully.
Students and administrators may mention the same word to visitors exploring Rollins’ campus, but they are not talking about the plant—they mean the College’s student newspaper, which as of 2019, has served its community for 125 years.
The Sandspur has embodied everything about its modeled plant since its founding in 1894. Our student staff, otherwise called “Sandspurians,” enjoy covering Rollins students’ and staffs’ experiences. When we learn about issues or injustices, we stick to them, acting like annoying little burrs until the issues are properly addressed.
This quasquicentennial is more than just an anniversary. It is a commitment to student journalism, freedom of speech, institutional accountability and success. Student newspapers are the backbone of America’s higher education system, and ours became the core of Rollins when it was founded.
The Sandspur has assumed a new and improved role on campus. If you ask my staffers, they will tell you getting here was far from easy—it required Sunday and Wednesday night workshops, late-night phone calls, intense review sessions, and physical audits. All of this was necessary to bring The Sandspur’s journalistic excellence up to a higher standard and give the campus the information it desperately needs.
I hope that you have noticed our work. Student journalists do not ask for much, especially recognition—we write stories and pursue investigations for the good of the community—but on this major anniversary, our staff deserves it. If you have not noticed it, I have.
We broke stories about the inequalities facing our women’s softball team, which did not have a locker room and was forced to watch as the baseball team’s field and locker room underwent a multi-million dollar renovation. As of this January, the team now has a locker room and a safe space to convene.
We dove into the various accessibility issues plaguing our historic campus and how they affect students with disabilities. Now, the college is hiring a firm to audit the campus and see what can be improved.
Students from the Lucy Cross Center were concerned when various positions for the women’s center were being eliminated. We uncovered the changes, and now a council is creating a task force to evaluate where gender equity stands within the College.
These are just three examples that stand out, and every byline and story in between holds meaning. Yet, there is still so much that we have missed. With an editorial staff of approximately eight full-time students, we cannot get to everything. That pains us, but we are working on expansion and connecting with the corners of the campus we have not reached.
It is also worth noting that this coverage and impact not only represents our staff’s work, but the College’s ability to respond to students’ needs. The stories are one thing, but the fact that change was instituted afterwards is another.
At the end of it, our staff could not be here without all of your support. Thank you for reading, supporting, and trusting us to be your campus news source for the past 125 years. The Sandspur will continue to reach for excellence and stick to any issue that comes its way.