Senior Reflections – Olivia Offner

The class of 2009 is just 25 days away from graduation. Some of my peers are dreading the day when they will have to leave Hamilton, but for me, the prospect of graduation becomes less and less bittersweet and more and more exciting as each day passes. I’m ticking off the days term paper by term paper, Persson step by Persson step, and am looking forward to moving on from Colgate, and onto a new and as yet undefined path. But as I sit in The Maroon-News office, which is virtually hidden on the third floor of James C. Colgate Hall, I find that I am almost in denial about moving on from the newspaper.

I became part of The Maroon-News staff even before I was really a Colgate student, arriving on campus a week early to participate in the pre-orientation program, and my involvement with the newspaper has come to define my Colgate experience. Even before this year, when the editor-in-chief job began to make nearly a 20-hour a week demand on my schedule, being part of the newspaper was what sustained me through four years at Colgate. In many ways, my feelings about The Maroon-News speak to the strength and importance that student groups play at Colgate. The Colgate 13 and the Swinging Gates, who we frequently hear practicing through the walls of JCC, and the intramural softball teams, who we can see playing on Whitnall field from our offices probably, feel something similar about their own groups.

The Maroon-News staff is nothing like I expected a college newspaper staff to be. The editorial staff is not a homogenous group of grammar experts (although I do sometimes wish this were the case). We aren’t all anxiously trying to break into the field of journalism (which is probably a good thing, considering the way the newspaper industry is going). Our editors have a surprisingly diverse array of majors, career objectives and interests. Most of the people that I’ve met through the newspaper I wouldn’t have met otherwise, because all of our interests are just so different.

My co-editor Vanessa and I met during the freshmen pre-orientation program. We didn’t immediately bond; in fact, I don’t think we said two words to each other throughout the first day. And then, after the traditional evening activity, Vanessa and I found ourselves walking up the hill together, just the two of us, in what we now look back on as a rather freaky foreshadowing of what our future with The Maroon-News would be. We made pleasant conversation during the walk up the hill, and each departed with the feeling that we really had nothing in common with the other. Today, Vanessa and I still joke about this. She frequently jokes that in describing me, she simply tells people that I make her look like a slovenly hippie, and that description seems to be enough. We certainly are an odd couple for the dual editor-in-chief position, but we have been able to make our differences complement rather than clash, and have discovered several fundamental similarities that go beyond a shared love for and commitment to The Maroon-News.

When Vanessa and I took over, we were anxious to challenge the establishment of The Maroon-News. We replaced our dinosaur of a technology system. After an extensive search and extensive negotiations, we made the switch from an incompetent publishing company that literally couldn’t keep our pages in order to an excellent company, and we are now producing a better product at a better price. We added several new editorial positions this year in an effort to streamline our process, and we dealt with the triumph of the successful additions and the disappointment of others. We extended the commentary section, and effectively engaged the campus on a deeper level.

At the end of this week, Andrew Wickerham and Paul Kasabian will take the reigns. As Vanessa and I have been dealing with minor identity crises over the fact that we will no longer be editors-in-chief, the rest of the staff is gearing up. We’ve heard amazing new ideas for innovations and improvements, not just from Andrew and Paul, but also from younger editors. When I first heard some of these ideas, I found myself torn between conflicting emotions. Part of me wants to ask, but what about all the things we did this year? Part of me wants more recognition for all the hard work that I’ve put in this year. But then the other part of me quickly takes over, and I begin to feel pride in the strength of the newspaper staff, and reassurance that the paper will always be in good hands, because there will always be students with fresh ideas, wanting to take what has always been great and make it even better.

As much as The Maroon-News has been a huge part of my life, I have not been a significant part of its life. The Maroon-News is the oldest college weekly in America. In our offices, we have two huge shelves of bound maroon books, which contain many issues of The Maroon-News. It’s amazing to think about all the different individual people who have come through our office (and we certainly thought about them when we finally threw away our disease-trap of a rug this year). Each person gave hours of time, even more than we do now, spoiled as we are by technology, and then left, four years later, knowing that the students coming up behind him would take the newspaper and put their own marks on it. My experience with The Maroon-News is really a boiled down version of my experience at Colgate. Each are longstanding institutions that became a huge part of my identity, and in a little less than a month, I’ll move on, knowing that both Colgate and its newspaper will remain. Just like the class of 2013 will move in seamlessly to take the place of the class of 2009, this August, two of its members will walk up the hill together, making small-talk, unaware that in four years they will be editors-in-chief of The Maroon-News. I just hope they know about Oxford commas.