COLUMN: You can depend on CM Life this semester

Central Michigan Life Editor in Chief Isaac Ritchey poses for a photo Aug. 14.

My name is Isaac Ritchey, and I'll be at the helm of Central Michigan Life for the Fall 2020 semester.

I came to Central Michigan University in 2017 unsure of what path I wanted to take. It was halfway through my freshman year that I found a home at CM Life.

Just like many other CMU students, I am returning to Mount Pleasant for my senior year amid unique circumstances. There is a lot that is testing me as an individual right now -- the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most divisive presidential elections in United States history and a national conversation on social injustice and struggles facing people of color.

This semester, I plan to lean on my experiences as a journalist while trying to seek out the truth. I have two semesters left and plenty of unanswered questions for our university.

As editor in chief, I manage the student-run newspaper, which for 100 years has presented comprehensive coverage of events and issues affecting the CMU community. CM Life is a nationally-respected student media company that wins awards every year for our coverage of student issues. 

The content we publish is editorially independent from the university. We receive money from CMU to fund a professional/administrative position and a business manager. The bulk of the money that funds student journalism comes from ads sales and other services offered by our business team.

If you are new to campus, let's talk about the things CM Life does every day to bring change to Mount Pleasant.

When much of campus shut down in March, we were here working. We were informing our readers about CMU's decisions for the semester and showing you the impact of those decisions. I spent my time photographing and telling the story of essential workers whose jobs were being overlooked. 

I also wrote an article about Morgan Trainer, who used her time and money while quarantined making masks for front line workers. 

I am not the only one. CM Life has a history of employing student journalists hungry to serve CMU and the city of Mount Pleasant.

In 1965, CM Life investigated the unfair treatment of Black students searching for housing in Mount Pleasant. The article, written by managing editor Tom Needels, sparked change in the area. 

More recently in 2019, we published a story "exploring the dark side of Greek life." The story exposed a banned fraternity accused of using date rape drugs, sexual assault and assaulting police officers.

CM Lifers graduate and continue their careers at places like the New York Times, Washington Post, Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, Mlive and many other news outlets. Today they are on the front lines of COVID-19 coverage. They've also covered national stories close to home like the Flint Water Crisis and the flood that affected residents in Midland County.

They win Pulitzer Prizes, but more importantly they tell the stories that matter most to the communities they serve. 

This summer, I hired a staff of journalists who believe in the same things I do. I believe in my staff's integrity and hunger for seeking and reporting the truth. I think every one at this university should, too. 

The CM Life staff will be fighting every day to inform students on campus and members of the Mount Pleasant community. We believe transparency should come from the university, city government and police and that our questions should be answered. 

We're just like you. We want to see change at CMU and beyond. I believe CM Life is the best  platform to have those conversations. 

I want CM Life to give students who feel overlooked and underrepresented a voice and a venue to express their opinions and concerns. There is nowhere else on campus that option to share your story is openly provided to students. International students, members of the LGTBQ community and minority students should have a heightened role in the decision-making processes at CMU.

I want you to know CM Life is listening to you. We want students of color and members of the LGTBQ community to help us tell the stories they know better than anyone else.

I want our newsroom to reflect campus and be a place where all students are getting the same opportunities as I am. I want to be helping progress the conversation on campus at CM Life, not taking away from it.

I believe change at CMU has to start with coverage in CM Life. I invite you to be part of that change.