After 342 consecutive days of “Your startup disk is full,” notifications and my MacBook Air making noises like an out-of-shape dog, I’ve been on a digital purge of my files. In my de-cluttering process, I came across a letter to myself from one of my required First-Year Residential Experience (FYRE) sessions at Occidental. Focusing on the theme of “identity,” I brilliantly wrote: “Age is important to me now because it’s such a pivotal and transitional time in my life and I want to make the most of it.” Deep, I know. But, nonetheless, this got me thinking about beginnings and endings, the goals we set for our future selves and the reality that our future selves will forever cringe at our past selves.
It has always been difficult for me to plan ahead. Coming into college, I imagined myself throwing back my head and laughing on the patio with a group of like-minded female friends, with a coveted summer internship secured months in advance and a solid understanding of Nietzsche. I’m just going to be upfront and say it: Reading theory still feels like looking at the world through a pair of fogged-up glasses, and I’m moving back to Brooklyn and living with my parents after graduation come May 21. I just “haven’t had time” to traverse the intimidating cyber landscape of LinkedIn and TigerLink. Call me lucky, a cliché or plain disorganized.
At The Occidental Weekly, I told myself I was going to be different. Over Winter Break, I set goals for the upcoming semester: I made Google docs, I had plans. Some practical — I wanted to create a visually stimulating newsletter, expand our social media presence and produce more video content (all of which, I’m proud to say, we’ve accomplished). But then there were the conceptual goals — trying to best serve the Occidental community by reflecting a variety of voices, representing the student body in a way that is both engaging and accurate, extending coverage into the Eagle Rock and Highland Park communities and attempting to instill a culture of active listening within The Weekly staff, which have been more difficult. I cannot confidently say that I have executed these loftier pursuits successfully in the span of four months, but I can say that I have tried. We, as a 70+ person staff, have endeavored to become a paper that mirrors your interests, spurs you to start conversations and vividly archives your four years here within Occidental’s longer history.
This year has been one of change and growth for The Weekly. We cut our print issues in half and have dedicated time and resources to expand our digital presence. Since October 2016, we have had more than 75,000 individual visitors and 3 million hits from 135 countries — including a particularly robust Brazilian readership. We started a video series, “Abroad: A Storytelling Series,” which showcases student reflections of their time spent abroad. We featured Lady Bosses of Eagle Rock and the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s visit to campus. We’ve received letters to the editor regarding choices in the theater department, about the mental health initiative Send Silence Packing, from Planned Parenthood, from the Queer Student Alliance (QSA), from President Veitch concerning Occidental’s decision to become a sanctuary campus and more.
Behind the scenes, I stagger home after Monday editing nights through our dimly-lit campus at 3 a.m., circumventing raccoons and out-pacing coyotes. I stumble back into the media suite Tuesday mornings with glossy eyes, stealing sips of coffee from my fellow editors — not having it in me to care about the fact that they are recovering from the latest flu that has been going around. Tuesday nights, I sit in the office combining a PDF of all the print pages and count page numbers repeatedly for hours, frantic that I’ve put them in the wrong order. We are a learning paper — student-run — which means we sometimes flub.
If running the paper has taught me anything, it’s that Occidental students, faculty, administrators and staff work ridiculously hard. Similarly, the La Encina Yearbook staff spend months of late nights chasing people down for photos. ASOC Senate tediously combs through student suggestions and complaints. Catalist TV films and edits during their scant free-time to provide you with #content. Just to name a few I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside this semester. As student organizations, we should support each other; which means recognizing each other as teaching organizations, as much as we are critical of one another.
I now pass the torch to Flora Adamian (junior), The Weekly’s current managing editor, who I have witnessed lead with grace, humility and a laser-sharp sense of AP style. With her background of activism and scholarship, I know she will prioritize coverage specifically suited to students’ interests.
So, if this were a letter to my adult self (one that I’d most likely look back on and cringe), I would hope to be applying what I’ve learned during my time as your editor-in-chief to whatever adulthood has in store for me. I see my future self, throwing my head back and laughing on a patio, not unlike Branca, having dedicated my life to the pursuit of the slippery truth and a good story.