To the Emory community,
This past academic year, the Emory community endured several student, faculty and staff deaths, including the passing of two Atlanta students from the Class of 2024 in the spring semester. During this time, the Wheel examined how we approached the death of community members in the past, and re-evaluated how we will approach campus tragedies moving forward. As a news organization, we want to be transparent with our readers about our decision-making process and ethical procedures.
In the past, the Wheel has acted in ways that sensationalized death or rushed to publish pieces in a manner that did not allow families and community members to grieve. For instance, the Wheel tweeted about the death of an Oxford student last year, including a picture of a hearse, before the University made any official comment. This prompted much warranted criticism, which we have reflected on.
Previously, the Wheel has viewed our responsibility of informing campus to extend to reporting on deaths of our community members, particularly as breaking news. After acknowledging community feedback and internal consideration, the Wheel has decided to not treat campus deaths as breaking news events as we had done in the past. Opting for a more sensitive and compassionate approach, we prioritize publishing a more humanizing tribute piece, commemorating the life of the community member we lost. This entails reaching out to the colleagues, friends and family members of the deceased, as well as receiving the family’s permission to publish a piece honoring their loved one. Out of respect for those immediately impacted by the death, the Wheel’s outreach to these individuals will not come directly after the news breaks of a person’s passing. Therefore, dedications to individuals may appear several months after their passing, but we want to prioritize giving members of our community impacted by the death a chance to grieve and share their thoughts rather than rushing publication.
In the coming days, the Wheel will publish dedications for two second-year students who passed last semester. While these commemorations come months after the students’ passings, the news editors prioritized reaching out to many important figures in the students’ lives, and waited until loved ones felt comfortable to share their thoughts before completing the dedication. We will continue to follow this process in the future, allowing families and loved ones time to grieve. The production timeline for future tributes will be based on family responses. Given that the grieving process is different for everyone, the timeline for publishing tribute pieces will differ.
The Wheel will continue to publish tribute pieces for losses within our community, to honor and commemorate their lives. We hope to share stories that embrace their legacy and capture the amazing people they were.
Brammhi Balarajan, Editor-in-Chief
Matthew Chupack, Executive Editor