Editor’s note: A reflection of the 2023-2024 year

Photo by Hanalei Potempa

As I prepare to hand-off the editorial management and publication of The Arbiter, it is with a bittersweet sense of pride and joy that I begin to reflect on the work accomplished by our editorial staff in the 2023-2024 year.

This time last year I was given the opportunity to lead this publication, and I started by hiring an editorial staff that I am  beyond proud of, as their passion and worth ethic is the reason why The Arbiter has accomplished all that I had originally set out to a year ago. 

Once a summer of planning was under my belt, the regular bi-weekly print issue schedule began to manifest itself as my new internal clock for the next eight months. One particular goal stuck out to me when I asked myself what I wanted out of our cover stories this year: Inclusivity.


We started the year with a women-centric cover story that set what seems to be a blissfully unplanned precedent for the year. Our very first cover story analyzed the trials of living as a woman in the state of Idaho, and from there we continued to have four more female-centric stories on our print covers, including our very last print of the year — a very full circle moment.

Thanks to the editorial skill of our section editors Emily Gordon, Marlei Soderquist and Ella Van Leuven, as well as our Culture Reporter Olivia Brandon, our women-centric cover stories debunked women’s health myths, created a spotlight for Boise State female athletes, addressed the impact of Idaho’s abortion bans and highlighted the impacts of local women writers.

In addition to our women-centric cover stories, our News Editor Kiryn Willett produced not one, but two LGBTQ+ cover stories this year. First semester we highlighted Boise Pride and the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in Idaho that isn’t over yet, and second semester we addressed the increase of anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes in Idaho.

Of course, inclusivity stretched far beyond our cover stories. Across all sections we gave a voice to a variety of underrepresented communities. From the MLK day march, to the stories of student refugees, Hispanic Heritage month, wheelchair tennis and so many more, the thread of inclusivity runs through the seam of every section.

New columns

We had a few brand new columns added to our sections this year that I hope will continue to be written for in the years to come. Two columns I would love to highlight specifically are the “Top reads” column and the “Forgotten Feminists” column.

The monthly top reads column was definitely another full circle moment. The very first article I wrote for The Arbiter my freshman year happened to be a book review, and I remember thinking “I wish there was a whole section dedicated to book reviews!” 

A couple months ago, with the help of Culture Editor Emily Gordon and Staff Writer Koletta Didio, we launched the top reads column, featuring monthly book recommendations of at least one of our writers every month. So now there is a whole section dedicated to books, and our generous Opinion Editor, Ella Van Leuven, allowed this column to make its home in her section — so go read it!

Another new column that holds a special place in my heart is the “Forgotten Feminists” column. Before I could even begin to brainstorm how I wanted The Arbiter to celebrate Women’s History Month, our News Editor Kiryn Willett pitched this column to me.

The “Forgotten Feminists” column, spanning across all sections, was the perfect celebration of women’s history as it aimed to give a voice to the stories of women in history who are often overlooked. From the art of Selma Burke to trailblazing female film directors and iconic women of Greek mythology, this new column celebrated women in all the small, silent parts of history. 

I also wanted to give an honorable mention to our Copy Editor Kelly Ann Asker’s persistent continuation of her “Monday Mystery Movie” column. This solo-run film column reviews some films before they are even out in theaters, and regardless of genre or rating you can always trust the review to be spot on.

One last honorable mention to our weekly sports update column “Buster’s Roundup,” run by both our Sports & Rec. Editor Marlei Soderquist, and Sports & Rec. Reporter Alec Simeone. This column provided weekly athletics updates and news every Monday during peak athletic season — because there is never a dull moment in Boise State Athletics. And yes, the column even got a shoutout from Buster Bronco himself. 

Investigative and breaking news

This year the editorial staff took on a lot of big investigative projects, but specifically our News Reporters Joel Hroma and Kaylie Hilliker declared themselves true ‘watchdog’ reporters, tackling investigative projects that took weeks on end to finally call complete.

Amidst an upsetting increase in reported sexual assault cases on and around campus, Hilliker addressed not only the increased cases of sexual assault, but the stigmas surrounding it and the many cases that go unreported. Hroma spearheaded an investigative piece addressing the possible reasoning behind police-involved shootings in Idaho reaching a new high.

When it comes to breaking news, the sports and news sections surpassed my expectations of high-pressure, on-site reporting. From ASBSU and mayoral election results to a variety of local protests, our news team Hroma and Willett were always there and always on it. 

Also, Hilliker deserves a huge props for spearheading a “tech beat”, covering technological news affecting our community, from inconsistent wifi on campus to commonly used, dangerous VPN’s.

And our sports team — they never missed a game. Whether it was working in the Albertson’s Stadium press box on game days, watching away games on their televisions at home or even traveling to highly anticipated tournaments, collectively, our sports team duo Soderquist and Simeone scored every point possible in my book. 

As I mentioned, there is never a dull moment in Boise State Athletics, but instead of shying away from the craziness, our sports team leaned into it. They highlighted new coaches and players as they were hired or recruited, spotlighted specific players in player profiles, rushed game reviews minutes after the final buzzer, analyzed past game data to make game predictions and even put together an entire ‘timeline’ of every notable event that took place during the wild 2023 football season for our final inside print spread of 2023.

We were even able to capture Boise State Football’s journey to winning the Mountain West Championship win on one of our print cover stories; confetti and all this print edition is the perfect keepsake for any Bronco fan.

Artistic, advocacy and editorial coverage

I wanted to give special props to the section I called home before I was called ‘Chief’— the culture section. From art exhibits, to the music scene, theater, social justice and environmental conservation, our culture team Emily Gordon and Olivia Brandon pushed the boundaries of this section and did not shy away from covering any topic or event that they found intertwined in Boise’s culture. 

From hard-hitting advocacy pieces about banned books or women’s health, to introspective art exhibits and music album reviews, this section truly covered it all.

And of course, no newspaper would be complete without an editorial, opinion section. I felt so lucky to have such a creative Opinion Editor in Ella Van Leuven, as she somehow managed to strike a very hard balance of having insightful and fun to read opinion pieces, while also addressing political policy and activism on pressing issues.

From music album, book and podcast recommendations to commentary on Gen-Z and our new digital age, sustainable fashion practices, the housing crisis and more, the opinion section this year set a new standard, and I’m in awe of how it has transformed and evolved throughout the year.

She also may or may not have written the highest viewing article of this past school year — spoiler alert, it was her analysis of the 2023 film “Barbie”

I could go on and on about the amazing work done by this editorial staff and how lucky I feel to have had such an amazing team this year. And although my email inbox was constantly flooded with emails with the subject line “Article: …”, it was truly a joy to read and edit every single one of the articles we have published this year. 

The Arbiter has been my “home” on campus since my freshman year, and as a result this team has definitely become like a family to me. So it is with a heavy heart, full of nothing but love, that I am officially signing off as Chief! I hope The Arbiter achieves even more in the years to come, and I’m so thankful this publication played such a huge role in my writing journey. 

  • Hanalei Potempa 

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