Senior column: Alexandra Jaffe

As I often (read: always) do, I’ve left my senior column to the last minute, hours before deadline.

As I often (read: almost always) do, I’ve taken on altogether too much work for The Campus this week.

And as it often (read: always) does, this newspaper gets my all while everything else—personal and familial relationships, school, unwatched episodes of Degrassi—takes a back seat.

But despite the late or missed papers, people I’ve snubbed or irritated and all the formals or football games I’ll never attend because I was working on this paper, I’m satisfied with where I am today.

DANA D'AMICO/The Campus

This newspaper has taught me more than my Allegheny education. Brittany wrote your sentimental piece about the weird friendships we share; Katrina shared an optimism for the future that I think all us editors would agree with. So here’s the sage advice I learned in the trenches of our tiny, cluttered third-floor office:

1. Nobody’s ever telling the truth, except for when they are.
Healthy skepticism is a much-maligned but invaluable trait I’ve cultivated during my time with The Campus. Enter every situation wondering if there might be something that person is omitting, something they got wrong or some explanation for the way things are aside from the one you’re getting, and you’ll eventually find the truth in the situation. I realize, however, that digging for the truth is a dirty business, so if you’d rather keep your fingernails clean, no worries; you’ve got us to do that for you.

2. Show a sincere interest in people, and it will be repaid in dividends.
Trite but true: Everyone has a story. Everyone has unique experiences and an interesting worldview and everyone makes their own impact on their community. If you’re not spending time learning about how we affect each other, and what matters to every person you meet, you’re not spending your time on Earth wisely. People are cool. Showing them you care about what they’re doing in the world will compel them to care about you, too.

3. Trust yourself.
There’s not a day that went by during my time as editor-in-chief that I didn’t wonder if I was making an editorial or design mistake or directing someone incorrectly. But once you find the confidence in yourself to ignore what everyone else might say or think, and to ignore all the infinite ways your decisions could go wrong, you’ll make much better decisions. You are stronger, wiser and more prepared than you think. Tell yourself this is true, and it will be.

This school is a hydra-like beast with more cogs and screws than any of us really know (read Brittany’s piece for more on mixed metaphors). If you think one of those cogs is jammed, or a screw is missing, you’re probably right.

If this school isn’t working for you, make it work for you. Ask questions and demand answers, and work tirelessly to hold those in power accountable. These are your four years, this is your campus, and this school is wonderfully weird, the halls of Allegheny are hallowed and venerable, only because you make them that way.

Caley Cook: Thank you for everything. You inspired us every week to work harder. You showed this newspaper the backbone we never knew we had. You dealt with endless complaints, ironed out misunderstandings and offered us a reference for everything from multimedia journalism to press law. And you’ve been a good friend.

And to you, the current and future generation of Campus newspaper editors and writers, thank you for all you do. Not a day went by that I wasn’t amazed by your skill, even if my edits on your page said otherwise. Not a story was written that didn’t impress me (even those that mostly disgusted me had an ounce of remarkable magic to them).

You editors, specifically, are some of the most talented, hard-working and inspiring people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, and if I worked hard every week, it was partly in service to truth and this campus, but also partly in service to you. Living up to the standards you set just by being the group that you are is certainly a full-time job, and I’m proud to have been able to call myself an editor of The Campus.

To everyone else: Take notice. We’ve got graduates going to some of the top grad schools in the nation, three interns in D.C., one at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this summer and unimaginable possibilities before us. If you haven’t been reading this paper so far, take this last bit of advice from me: Start reading now.


Alexandra Jaffe will intern this summer at Roll Call, a Congressional newspaper in Washington, D.C.