From the editor
// Sarah Vitet

“To be human means to feel inferior”
—Alfred Adler

The bonds of human weakness have been exposed, and we have come out on the other side of madness. Our pages are newly glossy and our sections are filled, so I think there’s something to be said for that, even if the content itself is more fashion oriented than usual. Let me explain...
Every year the Courier sends our staff and several contributors to the national Canadian University Press conference, casually called NASH. This year it was in Victoria. The conference featured a keynote each evening, and various seminars every day with different speakers. This year’s keynotes included Alan Cross (host of The Ongoing History of New Music) giving an unscripted talk that ended up being about the importance of corporate money, Anna Maria Tremonti of CBC inspiring us to “take back our journalism” through hard work, and Chris Jones of Esquire doing a stand-up show about how much money he makes (and somehow managed to charm his way into a standing ovation). The surprising standout was Dave Zirin talking about politics in relation to sports, as he gave a lot of vital insight into our societal projections of masculinity and the glorification of violence and war. There were other solid speakers during the conference, but the ones I appreciated most were the journalists who discussed propaganda rather than spewing it, and the people who told us stories about their careers rather than listing inspirational adjectives.
However, things did not end the way we expected them to. NASH always concludes with a fancy gala after the John H. MacDonald awards ceremony (our production manager Shannon Elliott was shortlisted for a layout award for the second year in a row) which is a chance for student newspapers across the country to get national acclaim. As the ceremony ended, we were all dressed up in our pretty clothes, ready to celebrate our last night together in Victoria. After a regular amount of pre-drinking, we were bussed to the UVic Student Union Building for the actual gala. As we were getting off the bus, the man in front of Samantha projectile vomited onto the head of the person in front of him.
After that, people started puking all over the place. The gala was canceled and everyone was bussed back to the hotel, except for some of us Courier folk because we were still in denial that it could happen to us (even though several of our delegates had already been stricken with the unidentified illness). The rest of the night became a confusing tug-and-pull between trying to have fun and worrying that the illness really was serious. There were speculations that it wasn’t food poisoning but rather norovirus, which is an extremely contagious and fast-spreading illness. When I got a text telling me that the Victoria Health Authority was asking everyone at the conference to quarantine ourselves in the hotel, we began to understand the severity, despite our hope that it wasn’t true. We went back to the hotel and not long after almost the whole staff started to puke and poop their guts out.
Out of the 15 people the Courier brought to NASH, only five didn’t get sick at all, including myself. Although I didn’t catch the virus, it was still a terrifying experience. The night it struck I stayed up all night listening to the people around me realize their humanity, waiting for the virus to hit me. It felt inevitable.
To witness an invisible virus destroy an entire conference in one evening really underlined our vulnerability as a species. We may pump ourselves up with job titles, expensive degrees, awards, trendy haircuts, nice clothing, and extensive vocabularies, but even the strongest and most talented human is vulnerable and will eventually die. Although we like to think of our bodies as an accessory – a catalyst in which to move around the word – and our minds as separate entities, we are all able to be rendered instantly useless. There is no getting past it.
The conference organizers had to deal with the epidemic, and performed well considering the pressure and also that many of them had fallen ill. NASH conferences generally utilize Twitter to do a lot of communicating, due to the smartphone-crazed nature of student journalists, and the epidemic didn’t stop that. Most of the information going out was via Twitter, which left those of us without access to a computer or a smartphone completely cut off from information or contact with the outside world. For delegates who did have access to Twitter, it became a helpful way to get updates on what they were sick with, how to care for themselves, and when they could leave. For those of us stuck in the stone age of cellular technology, however, we were left to wonder what was going on and whether it would ever end.
Eventually it was decided that most of the healthy people should go home, and the infected people should stay at the hotel until they recovered. Five Courier delegates went back to Vancouver, but the next day two of them were sick. JJ even had to recover from norovirus on his birthday.
The results of the virus on the production of this paper were severe. All our section editors were still recovering during the story meeting, as was Samantha. I ran the story meeting and pitched all the sections with help from Mike, our newly hired Humour editor. Many stories were still needed for this issue, but we all came together as a team to produce something that we could successfully put on stands by Monday. The editors worked hard to do their jobs, despite feeling violently ill and tired. Through it all, we managed to publish a paper this week, and that makes this one of the proudest issues of the year, for me.
In addition to all of this excitement, we met with our printers before NASH and are now publishing on a nicer quality of paper! I’m excited for the paper to not look like a dishrag anymore, and I hope you will agree that it’s an improvement.

//Sarah Vitet, editor-in-chief

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