“What would you do if money wasn’t an obstacle?”

That’s not a terrible question. Sure it’s a little patronizing, but it has some merit. Depending on who you ask, the answer might reveal some ambition or expose a streak of narcissism and materialism–both make for good follow-up questions.

I asked myself that question about The Torch last week, during a rare quiet moment to myself.

“If money wasn’t an obstacle, what would The Torch do?”

That’s a much harder question. There are some easy answers – purchase new camera and video equipment, hire a full-time web developer, pay the staff the living wage they deserve – but a good journalist wouldn’t accept an easy out. Material things will never give you a personality, nor will they give you a personal philosophy.

But, ultimately, it can only be a hypothetical question. Money is always an obstacle, isn’t it?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve spoken to many administrators and exchanged emails with many more about ongoing budget concerns, both with The Torch and the greater college. Most of them gave me similar refrains about being viewpoint-neutral, “interesting dilemmas” and how every decision is about dollars and cents.

But it doesn’t have to be.

If you look at things through a financial lens, you only see how much we value our staff and our work in dollars and cents. But a spreadsheet doesn’t tell you about the inexhaustible Annie Smith, who works upwards of five jobs, attends school full-time and still manages to be the last one out of the office on production nights.

A budget report wouldn’t include anything about Selina Scott, who went from casual Instagram user to keen-eyed photojournalist right before our eyes. Meeting minutes fail to mention Sabrina Piccolo – who was nearly the first-ever community college student to be awarded the prestigious Snowden Internship – or Prenapa Techakumthon, who managed to submit her graphic assignment (ahead of deadline!) while in Thailand. They – and the 37 other incredible staffers that made up The Torch so far this year – are so much more than data on a spreadsheet or names on the masthead.

They are people.

They are students.

They are worth it.