It seems to be a mocking rule: every time a Point News layout weekend comes around in the spring, the days are stunningly beautiful, and all the colors of St. Mary’s–the shimmering blue of the river, the pink, white, and yellow of the blossoms dotting the trees on the path, the red of the brick buildings, and the green of the scrubby trees–are brought to life by the sun. When compared to the gloriously sunny outdoors at the moment, The Point News cave tucked away in the SGA Club Room, with its small windows and minimal access to cell phone signals, is disproportionately freezing.
The setting mocks the chilly hesitation I’m feeling at leaving this remarkable community of learners, teachers, activists, scientists, and artists which I have grown to love and appreciate so much, especially now that I realize this type of community does not easily exist elsewhere in the “real world”–the world after college.
Although I’ve learned a lot in my four years at St. Mary’s, like how to write a semi-decent paper in two nights, how to efficiently forage for tater tots during Great Room brunches, and how to find the quickest route between the north side of WC and the Campus Center (you make two stops through Monty and the ARC, in case you were wondering), the most enduring and profound lesson that St. Mary’s and working for The Point News has taught me is the power of communication.
Whether it is expressed through the mass media or in a private face-to-face conversation, communication has the ability to bond people together or break them apart, and to see someone else as more relatable to oneself or more disparate than you would have realized otherwise. It’s a tool that must be wielded with the utmost caution.
I’ll admit it: what I have enjoyed most of all about being the managing editor of this lovely newspaper is the exclusive insider knowledge that I am able to glean from various administrators and students on campus. I do realize, however, that with this knowledge comes responsibility, and my goal as managing editor is to inform students, faculty, and staff of the issues that are the most pertinent to them, while also being mindful of how the campus community could react if not enough caution is exercised in regards to the publishing of sensitive information.
At present, while a debate over what should be private or public knowledge as been resurrected again with the leaks of surveillance plans from the National Security Administration, we are more keenly aware of the aspect of consent which comes with the sharing of information.
St. Mary’s is a place that loves to communicate; we host countless open forums (namely the “St. Mary’s Speaks” series) on topics ranging from world peace to climate change, and from race to gender equality and sexuality; we form close relationships with our professors and administrators while working for a better campus environment in projects such as the St. Mary’s Wages campaign, Green Dot, or the Public Safety Advisory Committee; we advocate for total transparency between students and all offices on campus; and yet sometimes these efforts at communication don’t pan out in the way we would hope, sometimes due to polarizing or unclear rhetoric.
A few years ago, The Point News dealt with cases in which a wholly well-intentioned attempt to raise a topic for discussion in the Opinions section erupted into a much more inflammatory issue than anyone on staff had anticipated. This incident has been haunting the back of my mind ever since I took up the managing editor’s mantle, and I had made it my goal to ensure that similar incidents will not occur under my watch; and considering that this is my last issue of The Point News, I’m happy to report that I’ve reached my goal.
Although working for TPN has been exhausting and tedious at times (This is the one and only issue I’ve stayed up past one in the morning to work on. Why not go out with a groan?), I wouldn’t exchange my time on staff for anything else. The experience has been thoroughly rewarding. Mostly due to the pizza parties. And with that, I leave the coming generations of SMCM with a final word of advice: Please continue to communicate, and do so with your ears and your mind open.