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MUKONO, UGANDA   Happy Birthday. With this issue – our 71st – The Standard is three years old.

It’s a remarkable achievement, raising this toddler, and everyone involved can take a bow. This newspaper is a tangible reminder to ourselves and others that Uganda Christian University is called to a high service, a place set apart, an academic centre where our story is part of His-story.

To anyone who has ever contributed a news item or feature story or opinion column or letter-to-the editor or photo, congratulations. While honing your professional skills, you have provided an invaluable service to this community.

To UCU student and staff readers, thank you for your interest. It is, after all, all about you: about telling your stories, raising your concerns, celebrating your victories and recording your heritage.

To administration, well done. You have created a vehicle that not only gives you an avenue to share your programme, but a newspaper of largely-free expression, where, we trust, criticism is allowed for the good and health of the larger community.

To the Ugandan leadership in the newsroom, none of this would be possible without your niche journalism skills.

When this newspaper launched on May 7, 2007, DVC Florence Sajjabi said “The Standard” would become a phrase to make other institutions “green with envy.” And so it has been.

In the last three years The Standard has packed well over 1,000 photos into its pages, about 300 letters to the editor, more than 200 guest columns, about 500 hard news stories and briefs, more than 200 features and profiles, more than 200 sports stories, and, of course, 71 You See You Smiles.

Stories on everything from the clothing we wear, to the leaders we choose, to the visitors we receive have reminded us of who we are.

Of course, globally, we live in changing times and there are other ways for people to get information.But for a university in the heart of Africa, no other form of media can rival the practicality of the newspaper in your hand. No other media will pay as much attention to you.

Like any newspaper, we get complaints.

One is that we’re a tool of administration. To that, we say we’re striving, sometimes imperfectly, for balance between criticism and service. Certainly, rigorous and constructive criticism needs to be integral to our mandate.

And we’ve heard that The Standard is “a platform” for a select few. Well, yes, this newspaper is a platform. But it’s a platform for anyone who dares pick up a pen.

Hundreds upon hundreds of items in our first 71 issues have, in fact, come from contributors who aren’t part of our staff. And we desire this spectrum. So, yes, if you have an idea, voice it. Visit us. Get involved. All we ask for is thoughtfulness and imagination.

We will continue to improve our weaknesses. Unlike some newspapers, we are committed to run corrections when we know we’ve erred. If we don’t make these corrections, tell us. And we will continue to look to the future. Later this year, we’d like to introduce an entirely fresh design.

There is a policy issue regarding newsroom leadership that remains unresolved. It’s an issue that in a short time could drastically change many things about The Standard’s future. We would be negligent not to note this in this space. But we have confidence that administrators involved in decision-making will help ensure that The Standard can serve this unique community for a long time. And we know that your sincere prayers will make a difference.

So, on behalf of those who work in the newsroom at Block B, thank you for gathering with us as a community with vision and purpose.

After all, this university consists of not only a group of learners interested exclusively in a degree or a job; we’re a body of believers seeking truth and wisdom. We’re a community of life learners who, with this newspaper, can come together over the word … and the Word.