We are fortunate to be inspired by great leadership — the type that fosters belief in ourselves and in each other.

October 26, 2020

By William Ink, Staff Writer

This piece is part of a series that members of the Citizen staff wrote to share our stories and in response to comments that Trustee Linda Handy recently made about our newsroom.


My name is William Ink and I am a 54-year-old white male, Oakland local and longtime resident of the city. I grew up working in my father’s restaurant and catering business in the heart of downtown from the age of five. Our “greasy spoon” filled the stomachs and captured the hearts of very loyal customers for over 45 years until my father’s passing in the mid-nineties. I continued to serve the Bay Area in the home restoration business and in 2017, returned to Peralta after a 30-year hiatus to pursue my dream of a career in the arts. I would love my final career to be delivering content that may be of interest and service to the community dearest to me in Oakland. I believe the Peralta Community College District is a bridge to that reality.

With 27 classes under my belt since Fall of 2017, not including the four I’m currently enrolled in, I consider myself a typical community college student at Peralta with compatible goals and interests. I am a student and also an adult, like my many peers in the Citizen newsroom. We are a diverse and eclectic social mix of individuals who share a few important core tenets. The love of the community we inhabit, the want to be good citizens while we pursue our potential and a compelling need to contribute to the greater good drive our reporting. 

The Citizen newsroom has been confronted by a wild array of challenges this year, but our central focus has been sufficiently narrowed to concentrate on all things Peralta in the interest of developing our writing skills, our journalistic acumen and our civic engagement. We have all spent a disproportionate amount of our energy on supporting the health and success of the Peralta Community College District. This has included covering a wide range of events from the state chancellor and board of governors, to board of trustees meetings, to participating in candidate forums, asking tough questions, doing interviews and conducting countless hours of research. We are fortunate to be inspired by great leadership — the type that fosters belief in ourselves and in each other. The type that is so rare to manifest itself in life that when you find it, you immediately recognize its value. Eleni Economides Gastis, Laney’s journalism department chair, has been our pillar. She is a tireless advocate and her guidance is unwavering.

It is inexplicable to us in the newsroom why our longest-tenured trustee, Linda Handy, would publicly demean the intelligence and acumen of the entire student body as well as the integrity of our newsroom by suggesting that students are unprepared or ill-equipped to form sound political opinions and that our journalists will lie to get a story or that we aren’t even student journalists at all. It’s condescending, short-sighted, manipulative and just plain wrong.                 

We in the newsroom believe civic engagement to be at the forefront of our responsibility to our community. We also believe that we have more information at our disposal than ever before, making this the most well-informed generation in human history. You are either part of the problem or part of the solution. This newsroom is intent on finding answers. The who, what, when, why and how is what we do. This is a challenge to the status quo, and if that makes people uncomfortable, so be it.