Senior Issue: Put it on the Record: The Maroon-News’ Place in Campus Discourse

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Emily Rahhal, Editor-in-Chief

I have agonized since September about how I would fill this space; writing and rewriting paragraphs, obsessively picking and scratching themes, titles, anecdotes. I have a very complicated relationship with this University and a unique view of this campus, one that I know puts me in a position to offer my community some insight — the problem is, I can’t say I’ve reached anything conclusive. I’ve covered ugly, hateful incidents from the day I walked onto Colgate’s campus, and served as the Editor-in-Chief for this “historic year” and yet never felt like I could do them any justice.

I’ve seen so much of this campus. I’ve been in the center of it; I know what it means to have information matter. I also know what it means to feel crushed by my University, by my peers, by our parents and alumni. I know what it means to tread water, to feel stuck on this campus with an uncomfortable amount of knowledge and a nagging feeling that I’ll never make a significant difference. Since my first year, I’ve found myself covering Torchlight, the ramifications of DACA on students, Alan Dershowitz’s painful visit, Colgate’s DEI plan, Heather Mac Donald’s hateful rhetoric, an analysis of Colgate’s recent racist history, racist Tik Toks, moments of fear and tension over COVID-19 and local police reform. Trying to sew up all the conversations I have had can’t happen in 1,000 words under the umbrella of only my Colgate experience. I cannot offer you a cure for this campus’s division, a roadmap to being heard by the administration, or a condensed prescription for how we must move forward to create a safer campus. But, as I’ve often written before, there is value to a nuanced record and to more information, which is something I have tried to give you.

I’m often met with confusion as to why I care to work so hard on a “lost cause.” My best guess is exposure; it’s exposure that keeps the likes of Kate Hinsche, Kelsey McGeough and Lauren Hutton writing. We have all existed with this complicated conundrum of access we have spent our time here chasing stories that would never be written, sitting on powerful accusations we could never corroborate, waiting to pack the full punch we knew was waiting for us. I’ve accrued an incredible load of resentment and guilt, relieved only by the stories that did come together thanks to powerful sources who allowed me into some of their darkest and most vulnerable moments. 

One of the most consistent challenges I’ve faced on the Maroon is reluctance. Reluctance to go on the record, reluctance to allow me into spaces, reluctance to engage in difficult topics, reluctance to share opinions. Which leads me to my first request to the community: talk more. Way more. The burden of representation and rigorous dialogue has fallen on the shoulders of a very tired few, but the division on this campus cannot be bridged by middlemen. As has been said time and time again, it’s time for students to step up and claim this campus as theirs. My Colgate experience has been vastly more whole because the Maroon pushed me to open every class, meeting, social event, and passing conversation with, “what’s going on for you on campus this week?” As journalists, it’s our job to ask questions, to parse through information and to dig a little deeper, but honest engagement is a burden every community member assumes when they put on their maroon. You all have to know your campus better, you all have to know each other better. 

I have found myself constantly working against the clock of our destructive rumor mill. The rumor mill at Colgate is powerful; I watched it trigger panic attacks last March, compel my roommates to leave campus early and manufacture fights between students and faculty. Again in July, I watched the same mass anxiety rise as we waited, once again, for days-late communication from the University about whether we would return to campus. Not two weeks ago I watched the library erupt with chaotic energy with the first COVID-19 outbreak of the year, as I braced myself for yet another three days without sleep. I skip class to follow leads, I bug sources time and time again, I feel an immense pressure fall on me to resolve everyone’s discomfort with constant, factual updates. But as I watch my group chats blow up with nasty stories and my texts for comments on the record go unanswered I can’t help but feel that, once again, I can’t make the difference I want. I’m treading water and watching this campus become toxic, feeling like I’m the only one with the tools to fix it.

At the risk of sounding self-indulgent, I beg you, take the Maroon-News seriously for the power it holds to contain meaningful discourse. It is your space, you dictate the boundaries of our coverage with your willingness to talk. You can’t know how much Lauren Hutton and I have gone to bat for you, and I am confident Kirby Goodman and Ignacio Villar will do the same. Not every story is meant for us, and we are far from a perfect staff, but we will  without failure  work tirelessly to represent you. These are good people with only one goal: to parse through what’s going on around campus, cut through our nasty rumor mill and provide a thoughtful record to allow for meaningful public discourse. An honest public record is our most powerful tool  we must work harder together to build it.

I am also leaving this campus with so much gratitude. So many of you have allowed me to help shape your time here. I am so thankful that you’ve given me the honor of participating in your triumphs and your struggles, that you’ve given me the power to participate in your stories. 

And lastly, to Lauren, my best friend and roommate of four years, you make me want to work harder, smarter, more thoughtfully, more kindly, and just plain old more. I will forever feel lucky for our many late nights together, chatting about the Maroon, our families, our days, our childhoods, soup, joy, makeup, anything. We really fucking did it.