Editor-in-Chief Kate LeBlanc and new President Marc Parlange chat for the Cigar’s first issue of the semester. Photo credit: Nora Lewis.

This feels surreal. 

Seeing campus alive again feels surreal. Going to RhodyFest with hundreds of student organizations feels surreal. Meeting the Good Five Cent Cigar editorial board members I’ve never met in person feels surreal. Stepping into the Cigar office on a Monday night and seeing dozens of new faces feels surreal. Being a senior in college feels surreal.

I can’t believe we’re back. 

In the bleakest of moments throughout the past year-and-a-half, there’ve been times where I’ve found myself wondering what the future of the Cigar holds. Will I ever get to run a proper meeting in the office? Will I ever get to meet freshmen face-to-face? Will First Night be a real in-person event again? 

As a president of a student organization I have immense care for, these are the things I would think about as I saw the regular 25 faces on Zoom every Monday night for our weekly meeting. 

While it was a challenge for my class of the Cigar staff to transition out of what they’d always known of the newspaper, it was harder to watch the freshmen not know what they were missing without those often-neverending meetings or the rush of an in-person interview with an important University official. 

There’s something special about the Cigar that is adaptable. We’re able to make an entire newspaper remotely because we know how to pivot and be flexible. However, there’s also something special about the Cigar in a familial way. We can do the remote work just fine, but nothing compares to meeting each other in person and spending those long Wednesday production nights together in the Memorial Union. It is what makes us become a family, and it is the quality I’ll miss most about the Cigar when my term ends in December.
Last semester, I learned a lot as editor-in-chief; my staff started calling me the “Newspaper Mom.” At the end of the day, though, putting out a newspaper every week alongside a full course load is hard work, and we always have to look out for each other. We dealt with issues constantly, but always came out the other side better than before. For instance, when managing editor Nicole Wagner had never had lasagna, news editor Jason Phillips made lasagna; we have to support each other in that way. 

This semester is all about coming back together fully as a family like we once did. While it’s been a tumultuous year for most, it’s still exciting to be editor-in-chief of the Cigar during its 50-year anniversary. I’m confident that my editorial board, alongside myself, will keep publishing newspapers, newscasts, podcasts and photos we’re proud of to further the Cigar’s legacy. 

Although this is our first full issue, my staff has already produced a four-page edition that we published during RhodyFest for new students. It was a big ask, but to my editors — Nicole Wagner, Jason Phillips, Adam Zangari, Kayla Laguerre-Lewis, Aniekan Okon, Imani Fleming, James Singer, Mary Lind, Leah Popovic and Morgan Maleonskie — thank you for the hard work I’ve seen from all of you so far. It takes a village every time, but you make it look easy. I’m sad that this will be my last semester as editor, but I’m thrilled that you are the people I get to share it with. 

Every Thursday during the school year, the Cigar publishes a print newspaper, a newscast, website resources at rhodycigar.com and a podcast called “Our Five Cents.” Find everything we’re working on through rhodycigar.com and @rhodycigar on social media. Send us story tips to uricigar@gmail.com or come stop by Memorial Union 125. 

We’ve been the student voice of the University of Rhode Island since 1971, and I don’t foresee that changing anytime soon. The future of the Cigar is bright, and the importance of journalism is more critical than ever. 

Welcome back to campus everyone, and welcome back to the Cigar.