By Gabrielle Wilkosz
What does Hilltop Views do?
Hilltop Views is the foremost student-run news publication of St. Edward’s University. Updated online daily and available on newsstands every Wednesday, the newspaper is the only non-press relations, aggregate news source for the campus and university community.
The paper is divided into four sections, which any student may write for at any time during the semester. These include news, sports, life & arts (culture and human interest) and viewpoints (opinion). There is an additional fifth quasi-section, Voices from Abroad, which features articles from undergraduates and recent graduates residing outside the U.S. for academic purposes.
Hilltop Views does not require try-outs for writer bylines to publish articles of students. While paid staffing positions are awarded after a 3-week trial period, any undergraduate can attend a budget meeting. These are open to the public at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays in Moody 209. Here, writers pitch their own stories or can take a story pitched by section editors.
Semesterly or annually, Hilltop Views releases a special edition, often 12-pages in length on a topic of interest. Recent examples include institutionalized racism in academia and the faces of mental health. These issues combine in-depth reporting with personal columns, accompanying photographs, and a Letter to the Editor, often by an affected faculty or administrative staff member.
Hilltop Views receives funding from the university but does not require prior review. This means that the newspaper is independent of its financial sponsor, according to the student handbook. This is uncommon in most student newspapers, especially among private, nonprofit Catholic institutions like St. Edward’s University.
What do you get out of participating in Hilltop Views?
In a political and cultural time when some leaders of the free world are at war with the press, the art of no-nonsense fact-finding and reporting can be difficult to master. Hilltop Views’ Lauren Sanchez, a staff writer and Viewpoints section editor, says writing for the student publication gives students an opportunity to communicate with their peer group in a way that few other organizations or outlets can.
“While students reading The New York Times or the Wall Street Journal is important and does good, sometimes it’s helpful to learn about local issues written by someone your age, someone who is having the same types of experiences as you as a college student,” Sanchez said.
When asked, there seems to be no one reason that editors and staffers find themselves in Andre 118, the Hilltop Views office. Some writers cite the utility of Hilltop Views as a place to publish stories and build a portfolio. Those pursuing journalism might voice the importance of mastering their interviewing skills and building a repertoire of reporting experiences. These might eventually land them internships (Houston Chronicle, Texas Tribune) or jobs (The Dallas Morning News, The Austin-American Statesman).
Still, other students like freshman Robyn Pierra hone in on the community that the newspaper garners, which Pierra describes as “a fun environment with creative people.”
What does Hilltop Views contribute to the St. Edward’s community?
Hilltop Views has a longstanding history at the university. In 2017, archivists at the Munday Library began digitizing for public use 129 years of St. Edward’s publications, including Hilltop Views’ great-great-grandfather publication, The College Echo, dated 1888.
Like many news-reporting publications, Hilltop Views has had its fair share of controversies.
One recent example occurred in 2016 after Hilltop Views published an opinion piece by a guest writer and Student Government Alliance member. The author argued a connection between Bernie Sanders, then-Democratic presidential candidate, a person of Jewish descent, and Adolf Hitler. The backlash was felt for weeks, primarily on Facebook, with many publicly criticizing the Viewpoints co-editors for letting the author’s aggressive stance slip through the cracks. Hilltop Views said that while the author’s piece wasn’t well written, it was the opinion of a student body representative who had been elected to a position in student government. The dispute resulted in a headline change.
Other disputes bear different outcomes. In some cases, a professor may write a Letter to the Editor, which Hilltop Views publishes. Such letters create a means of discourse through which Hilltoppers can interact, becoming increasingly interconnected despite opposing views.
How can students get involved?
To get involved with Hilltop Views, you can visit the news website at hilltopviewsonline.com or on social media @hilltopviews on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. Inquiries about meetings, staff opportunities, and article submissions can be directed to email@example.com.