I chose to attend Pepperdine because it felt like home, and when I think of Pepperdine, I think of the Graphic. Both have shown me the importance of numbers. Both have shown me the importance of truth.
Before setting foot on campus for the first time, many of us only knew about the University through its numbers: the undergraduate population, the student-faculty ratio, the national rankings. It was only our later experiences as Pepperdine students that gave these numbers meaning.
During my time at Pepperdine, I have stood alongside the rest of the Graphic staff as we reported on the very events that threatened to destroy the place we call home. From the Borderline shooting to the Woolsey fire to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pepperdine community is no stranger to adversity. We cannot prevent these tragedies from occurring, but we can control how we react to them, and if one thing is certain, it is that stories — like numbers — are powerful.
Journalism is objective, driven by facts. And yet, at the same time, it is a form of storytelling that enables us to more fully understand humanity — the best parts, the worst parts and everything in between.
More Americans than ever lack confidence in the media, but the news, as depressing and frightening as it may be, is absolutely vital. Without journalists, who would hold the government accountable, inform the public about the pandemic or share the stories others overlook? The truth is invaluable.
In the era of COVID-19, surrounded by division, dehumanization and distrust of the media, we rely on numbers. Behind every number is truth. Behind every number is a story.
It is only when we acknowledge that 832 first-years have yet to undergo the typical college experience, that 1 in 10 American college students is sexually assaulted, that 43% of the undergraduate population are students of color, that we can recognize the lived experiences, voices and faces behind them.
The stories behind these numbers help us understand who we are and who we want to be. They have the ability to make us feel at home regardless of where we are. Although these numbers and these stories do not define or limit us, they tell us who we are so that we may become better.
My hope is that by exploring the numbers of Pepperdine, Malibu and the world, as well as the deeper meaning behind them, this special edition will bring readers closer together in a time when they are far apart.
From racial diversity and mental health to spirituality and Title IX, this is Pepperdine by the numbers.