The Ultimate Group Project


The Maroon-News Staff thanks the seniors for their time and dedication over the past four years and wishes them well in life after Colgate.

Megan Leo, Editor-in-Chief

I’ve always hated group projects and never really understood why professors insist on assigning them. In my experience, a group project goes kind of like this: first, you all say you’re going to do the reading/research by such-and-such date; second, everyone forgets that they agreed to do the reading/research; third, one person remembers that the project is due in two days; fourth, everyone meets in the library cafe to work on the project “together” – but “together” always means that you slice up the project into defined parts so that every person is really doing an individual part that requires zero interaction between yourself and your classmates. When the day of the presentation arrives, you and your partners present “together,” hoping that each of your sections can form a coherent project. Sometimes it does; sometimes it doesn’t.

I was always fine with this. If I wanted something done right, I thought, I should just do it myself. I would be responsible for my portion and be graded on that. Turns out, that is not how group projects are graded. Trying to concern myself with every single detail – no matter how inconsequential – worked pretty well for me as a first-year, when I had less responsibilities, more energy and more time. I could micromanage almost every part of my life. But as I continued to take on more roles during my time at Colgate, any hope of closely overseeing every single aspect of the things for which I was responsible became impossible.

This revelation became clear to me this year when I had the amazing opportunity to work alongside Jackie Dowling as co-Editor-in-Chief (EIC) of The Colgate Maroon-News. When I applied to Colgate, I was that annoying high school senior who told Gary Ross that, should he accept my application, I would be the EIC someday. When my prediction came true, I was thrilled – I would be able to indulge all of my idiosyncrasies (such as making sure there would never be a rogue serial comma – ever). We publish thousands upon thousands of words in every issue. Assuming that I would be able to delete every single serial comma was pure naivete on my part. 

And so, first semester of this academic year, I jumped into the deep end, prepared to make this the best paper I could. For our first issue as co-EICs, Jackie and I stayed in the Maroon-News office until around 1 a.m. making sure it was perfect. Considering we’d been in the office since earlier that morning, it was longer than the average workday… but there was no overtime pay. Actually, there’s just flat-out no pay at all. We do it because we love it.

As it turns out, an independent student publication is the ultimate group project. Yes, there are many individual pieces going on at once to eventually make up the large puzzle that is a completed issue. We have over 70 staff writers who report to our five different sections (News, Commentary, Arts & Features, Colgate Sports and National Sports). We have an editorial staff of approximately 25 people. And we all come together every Tuesday to create an issue for Thursday publication.

With so many moving parts, it’s impossible to micromanage the Maroon-News while still being a functioning, sane individual – I can’t oversee every aspect of the paper while simultaneously maintaining a healthy academic life and sleep schedule. Something had to change in order for me to make it to the finish line that is Commencement.

So I had to learn a certain word – I’d previously thought it was a myth and could never exist in real life – “delegation.” A confusing word, right? Apparently, it means entrusting other people with some of your responsibilities. I couldn’t continue my assumption that things were only done correctly if I did them myself. And man, was that a hard lesson to learn. I’ve had such an incredible opportunity to work with some of the most intelligent, competent and capable individuals at Colgate who have shown me that it’s okay to trust others. I’ve learned that, in fact, by giving up some responsibility and accepting that collaboration is necessary, the overall quality of a work can improve.

This is the lesson Colgate has taught me. Yes, I’ve been in classrooms with brilliant professors and learned how to write, do research, etc. But as far as life skills go, I learned almost all of them during my time with The Colgate Maroon-News. Today is my last day ever with this newspaper, and it is so bittersweet. But maybe, just maybe, it’s time for me to move on. Now it’s time for me to apply what I’ve learned to the real world.

Contact Megan Leo at [email protected].