I’m not going to lie, I had no idea what I was walking into when I accepted this position a year ago. Sure, I had worked for the Student since freshmen year. And yes, despite all the pushback when I told people I wanted to be a journalist, I still was holding out hope for the industry. And one confession: I wanted to be Rory Gilmore since I was 12 and I refuse to give up that dream. On a serious note, however, I had no clue I would be dealing with retractions, advertising nightmares, ethical concerns, inflated egos and downright distasteful submissions.
A quote that’s gotten me through this year has been, “Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” It isn’t always easy in a position where people don’t always agree with what you publish or what you say. If I could leave you with some words of wisdom though, it’s figure out what you value, but also know when those values should, and will, be challenged. That’s where the growth and learning happen.
For instance, in light of a surge in student activism at colleges across the country, and in the midst of a frightening presidential election marked by hateful, ignorant discourse, I found my previous, rose-colored understanding of freedom of speech and political correctness challenged.
Or rather, this past year with The Student has taught me that no matter how hard you push people to listen or reason with those they disagree with, sometimes people just don’t listen. And sometimes, you need to accept that you’re not always right, or that things change and you need to be open to those changes.
But those of you who kid yourselves and think you can launch a vendetta against a movement you disagree with, or resort to belligerent name calling and raging rants in an effort to get some likes on a Facebook post, well then, I’m not sure how much you have to offer. Little growth happens when you cater to only the closed-minded.
Despite feeling like I was just trying to keep my head above water half of the time, I’m proud of what The Student has accomplished this year. We covered local elections and inserted our voice into national conversations about campus PC culture. The Sports editors did phenomenal investigative work into the hiring and firing of coaches, the history of the NESCAC, and the international presence on the squash team. We were administrative watchdogs (when we needed to be) and we served as a platform to celebrate the artistic talent of the Bates community. And we took some kick-ass photos (but shout-out to Phyllis Graber Jensen for saving us on numerous occasions).
I could go on and on (no one’s ever called me humble) but if I could leave you with a final tidbit of advice, it would be to write for The Bates Student. Kidding! You should, but seriously: have a little faith in yourself and the people on this campus. Four years is too short of a time to dislike people over petty grievances or ideological differences. You’re missing out if you don’t take a class because you had one bad experience with the professor, or if you don’t participate in a club because that kid from your FYS is the president and you didn’t get along. And don’t let people dissuade you from doing what you really want. At the risk of sounding sappy, if Bates has taught me anything, it’s that the door is never shut for good—you just have to keep knocking.