An editor bids farewell

With some parting thoughts on the importance of institutions

Four years is not long. Two is even shorter, and that is how long this editor has written for The Campus. Despite that short tenure, as he reflects on the time he has spent here he is confronted foremost by the importance of student institutions like this newspaper.

The life of a social science or humanities major is more isolated than one would think. Group projects are rare and laboratory assignments are non-existent. Instead, time is spent in the library reading or at the keyboard writing.

But for most students majoring in either of those disciplines, this is the way they like it. Time spent doing work is enjoyable. Hours reading are not tortuous or boring, for one is in constant dialogue with a piece of writing or even himself. Indeed, many grow to enjoy this time at college, or at least that was the case with this editor.

He never intended to work for the newspaper. He had written occasional pieces in the past but had no interest in applying, until he was prodded to do so by the then editor-in-chief when staff positions remained vacant after the application deadline had passed.

Since then he has resigned from the newspaper, come back, threatened to resign again, begged his editor-in-chiefs to fire him weekly and developed a tendency for complaining, lamenting and audibly sighing in the newsroom. Despite this all though, he is better off for having served on the newspaper.

The reason is twofold. Firstly, covering news has given him an understanding of how important student institutions are. Whether it is outing club, Greek life, club sports or dance groups, the organizations which exist on campus are the life-blood of the Allegheny community.

Academics is the central reason one comes to Allegheny, but the fabric of the community is woven together by the countless groups that coexist and interact with each other. Through these avenues connections are made between students that cut across departments, disciplines, ideologies and ethnicities. It builds what social scientist Robert Putnam refers to as “social capital.”

It ties students together into one cohesive whole, and also ties current students to all those who have come before them. It creates one cohesive Allegheny identity which extends across space and time. Even as this editor writes this piece, a black and white photograph of Ida Tarbell looks down at him from the wall.

Although some would prefer the shy isolation and privacy afforded to them at college, all should enter into the realm of student life and devote their time to it, no matter how reluctant they are at first. For the college community to endure and reach its full potential, it needs students to do this.

But not only will it make a richer, more vibrant student community at Allegheny. The second reason a student benefits from committing himself to an organization on campus is because it will make him care more deeply about the college. When one becomes a contributing member to an institution on campus, Allegheny becomes a part of who they are.

Nights spent planning and organizing, days spent hosting and tabling; the entire time members are expanding their labor in service of their club they are becoming more fully a part of the group, and the group eventually becomes a part of who they are as well.

Participating in student groups leads one to become fully committed and invested in this college and the institutions that constitute it. This is of supreme importance because those institutions will last long after one crosses the stage at commencement.

It will make them care more about the college while they are here, and continue to care about it long after they leave.  That is the experience a student will have when he fully joins student life and becomes a member of the community, or at least that was the case with this editor.

Time spent covering departments, cultural festivals, dry committee meetings and phone banks made him fully aware of how many layers there are to this college, and how many people it takes to keep the community full and vibrant.

But writing all those articles also made him more fully invested the college that he covered, a place he has learned to love. Allegheny is indispensable, and even though this editor remains pessimistic about the state of the college, it cannot be said that he is not thankful for the time he has spent here, or that he does not care deeply about it.