It seems like just yesterday I was a philly cheese steak obsessed freshman, hoping to navigate the seas of college life. UR was a giant, confusing campus, and the ugly clip art posters and senior year were far away on the horizon.
As I sat down to write my last article for the Campus Times, I struggled with what I wanted to say.
I could go through a list of why I felt I was the most important person at the CT in the history of time. Well, I don’t feel that way, and that would just come off as pretentious and douchey.
I could do the “myriad things I learned in college list,” but everyone already knows how to Facebook in class, how switching your roommates’ rooms is officially the best prank ever and how much fun hanging out with Arthur Guinness and John Jameson can be.
Instead, I decided that I wanted to get my kicks while I’m young enough to get them. I didn’t get into journalism to make friends, but to write honestly, even if fulminously, about the world around me. And the last four years have shaped what I think about the study of journalism as it truly is: a scientific art form that is often imitated but never duplicated.
And, it seems to me that it’s been when things have gotten sticky that have defined me as a reporter.
Over the past four years, we’ve had entire departments rally against us (and hack our website). One like-gendered half of Greek life wanted to tattoo the communal principles to my ass because they couldn’t take a joke. (I’ll give you a hint: It was the half that wears dresses.) We had articles requested to be “quality” approved by certain faculty members before they would comment to make sure they came off in a good light.
Others tried to stop certain issues of the paper unless we promised them a front page story of their choosing. The entire research community cried monkey business and wanted an article pulled from our website: The Democrat and Chronicle ran the story a few weeks later. Apparently they thought it was newsworthy enough.
The one uniting factor that surprised me was the lack of understanding when dealing with journalists. Most members of our college community don’t want to talk about real issues or anything that could make them look less than perfect. Many of the student groups, too, live under the assumption that the CT exists to offer them free advertisement. People don’t understand that it is our job to ask questions, to dig for the truth and to shine lights on the dark places of the world (or in the basement of Meliora Hall).
And I’m somewhat torn. Would I have learned more from a dedicated journalism program? Perhaps. But right or wrong, I felt this was where I belonged, and I think I’m better off for struggling in an environment than having life handed to me on a golden platter and ending up spineless and unwilling to stand up for myself or fight my own battles.
Like they tell you never to do in writing class, I’ll conclude in summation. We are the Campus Times, the independent student newspaper of UR. We are not funded by the Students’ Association and UR has no editorial sway over anything we publish. If you fuck up, we are going to call you on it, just like a real newspaper. We’re a learning newspaper — the Sacred Heart of newspapers — and we make mistakes, but as a community you should help us learn from them, not hide information from us because it might make it look like you aren’t doing your job, which you probably aren’t anyway. The staff here — all of whom are entirely volunteers — put in as many as 40-50 hours a week and can’t learn when the environment around them looks down on the journalism profession because it isn’t “literature” or a hard research science.
I’ll end with the best advice I can pass on to my following CT-ers: If you are a student newspaper and you aren’t pissing somebody off, you probably aren’t asking the right questions or doing your job correctly.
It’s bittersweet knowing that I’ll be finishing a semester early and my last class as an undergrad is right around the bend. I’ve met some of the best people I’ve ever known here, and I am not soon to forget the past four years of my life. You’ve helped me grow from a mouthy, armband-wearing, Converse-never-matching kid from Newark into a mouthy, armband-wearing, Converse-never-matching pseudo-adult from Newark who has a degree and knows how to use serial commas. The ones who count, my peers, my fellow writers, my classmates, and my supportive professors: You know who you are and what you mean to me.
For everyone else, I’m sorry I made condoms undeclinable, and I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve. But if there’s one thing I’ve done, I’ve had fun, and I want to end with words by perhaps the greatest UR benefactor: My work here is done, why wait? Rock it, Rochester. Always.
Clark is a member of
the class of 2012.