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Recapping the best of The State Press' 2021 coverage

After a year of relearning face-to-face interactions and in-person instruction, reflect on the ASU community’s 2021 as told by student reporters

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Graphic originally published Friday, Jan. 7, 2022.

From coverage of disparities in ASU's campus accessibility and gender representation to an investigation into a viral confrontation in Tempe's new multicultural center, 2021 was a year of reporting to remember. 

While our reporters continued to cover COVID-19 and the return to in-person instruction, The State Press also dug into new territory by publishing our first documentary and first all-Spanish magazine while also conducting numerous months-long investigations into important issues within our University community. 

The following stories have been some of our favorites to read, edit, report, illustrate, photograph, record and share. Thanks to all who allowed us to share their knowledge and experiences; they make an immeasurable impact by bringing invaluable information to the ASU community.

‘Identities matter’: The Polytechnic School’s gender equality equation | Salma Reyes

ASU’s Polytechnic campus and its many STEM-based programs — like other campuses nationwide focused on science, technology, engineering and math programs — has a gender disparity. Reporter Salma Reyes took a deep dive into the experiences of women students and faculty, their experiences at the Poly campus, and efforts to close representation gaps across the STEM field at ASU.

Skating to success: One student's journey from unemployed to business owner | Kristen Apolline Castillo

After losing a summer internship due to the pandemic, Nicole Martin, ASU's roller derby team president, started up a business venture of her own: One Stop Skates Shop. Community and culture editor Kristen Apolline Castillo reports Martin had her first sale within two hours of opening the shop, which sells roller skating accessories. A year and a half later, the shop's Instagram account has amassed over 43,000 followers.

Lawsuit details severe hazing by ASU Kappa Sigma fraternity | Ellie Borst 

A complaint filed against ASU's Kappa Sigma chapter, recounted by executive editor Ellie Borst, exposes the fraternity's hazing process — from treading freezing water fully clothed to eating M&Ms off a floor where people had vomited, urinated and defecated, and other acts that ultimately left a student hospitalized. The group was suspended from campus in October 2020. 

Escaping empty stages: Bringing performances online | Salma Reyes

While the pandemic brought many things to a stand-still, reporter Salma Reyes writes that the music scene among students stayed alive through online musicals and digital jam sessions. She spoke to four people about their experiences taking their music online last spring. “It was definitely an experience that led to a lot of adapting,” one student said. “We learned that this story for us as writers and students has been such a great opportunity to make an impact and share that with people, as well as ultimately providing a little help and support.”

Mapping Access seeks to make ASU campuses easier to navigate for all | Anna Campbell 

Reporter Anna Campbell follows Mapping Access, a group of students aiming to create a readable campus map identifying accessible features for the ASU community, as they document the features of the West campus. "We just want to open people's minds" to the existing barriers on campus, one student said. "ASU is a lot better than most campuses. We just wanted to build it and make it a little bit more fluid and better."

State Press Play: The New Normal, part one | Sonya Sheptunov

The State Press’ new podcast series, “The New Normal,” follows the lives of five ASU students as they navigate college in a pandemic. One of the students is Molly Streppa, a junior studying art education. She told podcaster Sonya Sheptunov, “it's a hard situation for everybody. And being hard on yourself, and building up a lot of resentment over what people aren't doing, can be just as damaging as allowing yourself to be ignorant to it.” 

'Échale ganas': Latine medical student club seeks to boost representation | Salma Reyes

While other clubs were navigating how to handle the abrupt change to fully online operations in the 2020-21 school year, the Latino Medical Student Association was building itself from the ground up. In this feature, reporter Salma Reyes shares the stories of the club's leaders and explains the disparities that mark Latin Americans' experiences in health care. "Latines accounted for more than 50% of total population growth in the U.S. within the last decade. But at the doctor's office, Latine patients are rarely seen by physicians who look like them," she wrote. 

Velveeta’s Twitter account shells out love for Luguentz Dort | Jeffrey Horst 

Earlier this year, editor-in-chief Jeffrey Horst delivered a hard-hitting investigation: Why was the Velveeta Twitter account always posting about former Sun Devil basketball player Luguentz Dort? The answer, he found, was simple; the account told him in a Twitter message: "BC HE'S THE BEST JEFFREY."

‘In the business of poking holes’ | Chris Scragg and Jessica Myers

Robert Balling, a climatology professor at ASU, saw warning signs of the dangers of human-emitted carbon dioxide in the 1980s but questioned the predicted consequences of other researchers. Reporters Chris Scragg and Jessica Myers unpeel the layers of how, along with other such climate change skeptics, Balling proved imperative to the conservative campaign to undermine environmental protections.

Rush: Jackson He | Drake Presto

In the fourth quarter of the 2020 Territorial Cup, ASU running back Jackson He became the first Chinese-born player to score a touchdown in NCAA FBS history. One year later, in video editor Drake Presto’s documentary, a number of sources said He’s success is paving the way for young football players in China. 

Talks for permanent food pantry stall between officials and students, faculty | Nancy Lam and Jasmine Kabiri

ASU’s University Senate and the student-led Pitchfork Pantry have worked for several semesters to support students who have limited access to food and toiletries. According to reporting from Nancy Lam and Jasmine Kabiri, “Recent talks between leaders at the pantry and University officials to explore expanding access to services have failed, in part due to ASU’s ‘innovative’ view that the pantry doesn’t go far enough.”

For some, poetry is an art. For Rosemarie Dombrowski, it is medicine. | Kaden Ryback

Reporter Kaden Ryback writes ASU lecturer Rosemarie Dombrowski “acts as a living pop-out book of information whose delivery turns a seemingly mundane topic into a learning opportunity. Dombrowski's hands fly with her words, and she is exuberant when given the opportunity to talk about her favorite works by Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. 'Nothing I say can prepare you for the reality of what Rosemarie is,'" one student in her class said. "'You have to experience it.'"

Meet ASU's other Michael Crow | Alexis Moulton

A little-known fact about The State Press is that, for every named individual part of the ASU community in a story, reporters must leave a note linking to that individual's page in iSearch, ASU's student and staff directory. A name frequent in many of our stories is ASU President Michael Crow, and one thing all reporters have seen is that ASU has not one Michael Crow, but two. Reporter Alexis Moulton gets to the bottom of who ASU’s other Michael Crow is in this feature.

The Losing Ticket | Camila Pedrosa

Scattered responses and failed arrangements for LGBTQ+ students from ASU's gender-inclusive housing process raised concerns and brought further attention to inconsistent communication across the entire housing department. Magazine reporter Camila Pedrosa spoke with LGBTQ+ students who advocated for change amid housing arrangements they deemed dangerous. 

Meet the ASU Hacking Club | Olivia Persyn 

From its “leet” hackers to its mysterious webpage, reporter Olivia Persyn takes a look at the history and future of the ASU Hacking Club, formally called "pwndevils,” as the group works to change its image and create a new generation of hackers on “the journey to a perfectly hacked world" of '90s style hacking.

Brave face | Ike Everard

Conor Davis, once ASU baseball’s star transfer set to fill the hole left by former first baseman Spencer Torkelson, suffered an injury during a fall 2020 scrimmage. The athlete’s trademark positivity and leadership was moved from the field to the dugout as he became a vital supporter for the team amid his recovery. Reporter Ike Everard highlighted his journey. 

Off the press: The devil in the details | Kiera Riley and Kate Ourada

Carlos Diaz was pulled over in Surprise, Arizona, for a broken headlight 10 years ago. The stop led to a search of his car where officers found a marijuana roach underneath a seat, Diaz said. He was charged with possession of paraphernalia, a misdemeanor at the time, and had to live with the charge on his record until this past year when he utilized a new Arizona law to get it expunged. He told State Press Magazine managing editor Kiera Riley his story to encourage others to do the same.

Viral confrontation in multicultural center exposes disconnect between ASU students, officials | Anna Campbell, Morgan Fischer and Kirsten Dorman 

After a confrontation in September occurred in the new multicultural center at ASU's Tempe campus, reporters Anna Campbell, Morgan Fischer and Kirsten Dorman reported on how the new centers, years in the making, were marked by disconnected goals and little communication from ASU about the space. Those problems all came to the forefront in the now-viral video.

Sinema is betting on bipartisanship. Students aren’t buying it | Piper Hansen

Students frustrated with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said they weren’t planning to stop confronting her — wherever and whenever. They detailed her failures as an elected official who they expected to, at the very least, listen to constituents as she did in previous positions. Following an incident where students followed the senator into a bathroom on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, politics editor Piper Hansen spoke with students about Sinema’s shift on campaign promises and her lack of communication. 

Opinion: Mirabella's existence shows ASU's lack of care for community | Haley Tenore 

Following Mirabella’s initial legal complaint over Shady Park's noisy concerts, opinion editor Haley Tenore delivered a sharp analysis of the situation and its larger contributing factors. "As students on campus struggle financially and are made to live in subpar housing conditions, the University continues to expand outward, sometimes in areas where it is not wanted," she wrote.

Review of past Council of Presidents’ priorities show overlaps, shortcomings | Reagan Priest

A review of the Council of Presidents’ priorities from 2018 until 2021 by reporter Reagan Priest revealed several successful initiatives like the menstrual equity project and increased access to basic facts and direct contact lines to members of student government. At the same time, the review showed the University has chosen not to implement some legislation, such as a medical amnesty policy and the reconfiguring of the Pitchfork Pantry.

Center Stage: 'Healing Wars' confronts mental health in the military | Peter Vezeau

“Healing Wars,” a show about mental health, PTSD and the veteran experience, premiered at ASU in November. Peter Vezeau spoke with two ASU students who worked on the project about its meaning, unique presentation and the collaborative effort needed to make it a success.

The nights dragged on | Kiera Riley and Sam Ellefson

As ADHD sees heightened visibility on social media, more and more people seek out diagnoses and subsequent prescriptions. But America’s past and present infatuation with amphetamines compounded with vested interest from pharmaceutical companies raises alarm for the long term. In this piece, managing editors Sam Ellefson and Kiera Riley examine the benefits and pitfalls of rising Adderall prescriptions.

The forgotten ones: The story of the 1981 ASU bowling team | David Rodish

One of ASU’s most successful sports teams, the 1981 men’s and women’s bowling teams, doesn’t have any jerseys hung on rafters or trophies in cases, reports sports editor David Rodish in this deep-dive on the team. The bowling team is a club, not a varsity team, but 40 years ago both teams won the National Championship. “In his house lives the physical evidence of the national championships. It used to be hung in the MU, at the bowling alley, but as the building underwent renovations that got rid of the lanes, the banners left too. All that remains of a dominant bowling team are the players and their voices,” Rodish writes.

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